2018 Winners

UL and NAAEE are proud to announce the 2018 UL Innovative Education Award winners.

Five programs were selected, each with a focus on advancing STEM learning through projects involving real environmental problems (E-STEM) and each demonstrating success and innovation in this field. Recognition grants were awarded to all five programs to help further their work. In addition, each winner will also be paired with UL employees, including science, engineering, and technical experts in realizing the full scope of activities in their E-STEM educational programs.

Thank you to each of you and your amazing programs that have applied for this year’s UL Innovative Education Award.
We look forward to learning all about your innovative E-STEM work and how you are engaging the next generation of engineers, scientists, business leaders, researchers, and inventors.

Together we can power a sustainable tomorrow!

Grand Prize Winner - $100,000 Recognition Award

Advancing STEM Education with After-School Programming for Girls from low-income Communities

By: Techbridge GirlsFrom: CaliforniaWebsite: https://techbridgegirls.org/
Four pictures from Techbridge Girls. A girl against a backdrop of grass. Four girls huddeld over a tray performing a science experiment. A group shot of 13 young participants. Three girls on a project drawing diagrams on a whiteboard.

Techbridge Girls is an award-winning nonprofit whose mission is to excite, educate, and equip girls from low-income communities (with an emphasis on underrepresented minority populations) to achieve economic mobility and better life chances through opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Techbridge Girls envisions a world where all girls lead, contribute, and thrive in STEM.

Our year-long ChangeMakers program provides impactful and holistic STEM programming to middle school girls. Our participants gain a deeper understanding of STEM concepts, explore STEM careers, develop 21st Century social/emotional skills and make an impact in their communities by identifying local or environmental challenges affecting their lives. 

Tier Two Winners - $50,000 Recognition Award

Ocean Discovery Institute: Transforming Young Lives Through Science

By: Ocean Discovery InstituteFrom: CaliforniaWebsite: http://oceandiscoveryinstitute.org/
Four Images of Ocean Discovery Institute Youth.  First a young male participant on a rocky beach. Second Image, Two young male students pouring a blue liquid into another container. Thrid image, A female instructor and a young student wading in shallow water on a rocky beach, jotting down notes. Final image, A young woman in a blue hardhat and sunglasses working on an unseen item attached to a metal pole.

Ocean Discovery Institute uses science to empower students, from a single urban community, to transform their lives and ultimately our world as E-STEM leaders. Our model uses marine environments as a platform for teaching all disciplines of STEM, and consists of programs that follow young people from elementary through college, and into careers in E-STEM. Programming is paired with access to mentors and other tools students need to overcome challenges they face growing up in underserved communities. Ultimately, these students are becoming the leaders we need to develop solutions that will make a real difference in our world.

Sweet Water Foundation's Apprenticeship and Outreach Program

By: Sweet Water FoundationFrom: IllinoisWebsite: https://www.sweetwaterfoundation.com/
Multiple pictures: Sweetwater participants at work on a hands-on project. A youth participant kneeling in a field, working with plants. A tan grassopper on a participant's fingertip. Three participants, leaning over a project on a wododen desk outside.

Sweet Water Foundation’s Apprenticeship & Outreach Program engages systemically disconnected youth into STEM-based programming and STEM higher-education and career pathways. Their workforce development approach uses hands-on, project-based learning experiences marrying centuries old practices with 21st century digital media, tools, and technology to address pressing urban problems. Youth become stewards of the physical land and develop a deep awareness of the urban ecological environment by engaging in urban farming, gardening, and neighborhood beautification, while transforming the built environment via art, architecture, carpentry, design, and engineering projects. While doing so, participating youth tackle real-world problems investigating environmental issues, generating community and youth-driver solutions, and working to bring those solutions to life.

Tier Three Winners - $25,000 Recognition Award.

Groundswell Michigan

By: Grand Valley State University College of EducationFrom: MichiganWebsite: http://groundswellmi.org/
Four images of Groundswell participants.  First image, a group of participants at a check-in desk. Second image, Two participants in red shirts looking through a video camera, preparing a shot. Third image, Two your female students looking at a specimin in a net. A large batch of participants on the bank of a stream on a sunny day.

Groundswell is a place-based environmental education program in the College of Education at Grand Valley State University. The program's mission is to get students outside and learning through their communities. We model and support effective teaching pedagogy through community-based projects that address a real environmental need. Student engagement and learning through these projects help foster the next generation of environmental stewards. With an extensive professional development program focused on the E-STEM fields, we help teachers incorporate inquiry-based education and Next Generation Science Standards into their practice. We also connect schools to community organizations and provide funding for student-led stewardship projects.

'Alalā Reintroduction Community Inquiry Program

By: San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG)From: CaliforniaWebsite: http://institute.sandiegozoo.org/
Multiple Images: Volcano Charter students at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center outdoors. Trees in the background. Four students in the mid ground and two in the foreground holding a hose. Second Picture, A group shot of participants. Third picture, An Alala, black, the image focused on its head.Final picture, three girls looking at test strips in a newly constructed campus greenhouse.

The 'Alalā Reintroduction Community Inquiry Program provides Hawaii Island students the opportunity to examine firsthand the ecological significance of the 'alalā (Hawaiian crow) through the process of conservation inquiry. Students engage with SDZG researchers at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center (KBCC) before designing and conducting their own 'alalā-enhanced native seed growing experiments on their campus. The program includes comprehensive professional development in open inquiry for Hawaii Island science teachers and fits well with Hawaii's recent adoption of the NGSS. It also coincides perfectly with the timing of ongoing 'alalā reintroduction efforts, linking activities in the formal classroom to community-wide initiatives.


Get Hip to Habitat

By: Galveston Bay FoundationFrom: TexasWebsite: https://galvbay.org/in-our-schools/education-service-projects/

Get Hip to Habitat melds Galveston Bay Foundation's (GBF's) environmental education and habitat restoration initiatives into one program designed for 6-12th grade students. The program runs the length of the school year and offers project-based learning about coastal wetlands through the set-up, maintenance, and monitoring of mini-marsh nurseries of smooth cordgrass on school grounds that mimic the natural estuarine marsh environment. In the spring, students culminate their project by transplanting their cultivated grasses to designated local marsh restoration sites around Galveston Bay. Objectives include instilling knowledge of the local Bay ecosystem; inspiring students to open themselves to new experiences; and empowering action towards a better Bay.

Planet Bee Foundation

By: Planet Bee FoundationFrom: CaliforniaWebsite: https://www.planetbee.org/

Planet Bee Foundation is dedicated to creating a green-minded generation by inspiring environmental stewardship through the power of individual action and the teaching lens of the struggling honey bee. We dream of an ecoliterate society with a higher concern for the greater good, and work with schools, nonprofits, summer camps, environmental centers, community gardens and businesses to present hands-on, educational workshops on location. We currently offer three school programs, the Humble Honey Bee (HHB), ZomBee Watch Citizen Science School Program (ZBW) and Adopt-A-Hive (AAH).

Youth Arts+Media for Plastic Free Waters (YAM4PFW)

By: Cafeteria Culture (a project of Fund for the City of New York)From: New YorkWebsite: http://www.cafeteriaculture.org/plastic-free-waters.html

YOUTH ARTS+MEDIA for PLASTIC FREE WATERS (YAM4PFW) is an environmental STEaM school/community partnership where students in grades 3-8 take the lead to investigate and design creative solutions for reducing local street and beach litter that contributes to a global plastic marine pollution plight. The program merges youth-led citizen science and civic action with Arts and Media messaging campaigns, providing an urgently needed urban youth-of-color voice to NYC's environmental movement. Students conduct litter surveys, interview neighbors, lead campaigns, and use their own data and personal stories to inform policy and create accessible, local narratives that inspire change.


By: Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, BerkeleyFrom: CaliforniaWebsite: http://beetlesproject.org/

BEETLES increases the quality and capacity to improve of outdoor science education programs nationally. BEETLES is a "change agent," providing a range of resources and technical assistance to inspire and support improvement in outdoor science education. We build relationships with educators and leaders, and create a wide variety of resources to address the particular needs of this effective, under-resourced field. BEETLES develops, tests and shares professional learning sessions that leaders conduct with their staff; student activities for instructors, and other tools that help educators infuse learning theory into their programs to make them more learner-centered, nature-centered, discussion-oriented and culturally relevant.

Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots

By: The Jane Goodall InstituteFrom: CaliforniaWebsite: http://www.rootsandshoots.org/

Established in 1991 by Dr. Jane Goodall and a group of Tanzanian students, Roots & Shoots (R&S) engages youth as stewards of their environment through service learning. Youth use best practices grounded in JGI's conservation programs in Africa including observation and community mapping to understand their environment and connect to local issues.  Community mapping is place-based and can be done with high tech mapping tools or a simple pen and paper.  Through this process, youth are empowered to act as change-makers in their communities and positively impact the issues they care about.