Academy Receives Award for WINS
August 6, 2015
Women In Natural Sciences, a program at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University that focuses on advancing science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) learning through projects involving real environmental problems (E-STEM), has been named one of the five winners in the UL (Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.) Innovative Education Award program.
The Academy, in Philadelphia, will receive a recognition grant of $50,000 to further their work. The four-year WINS program provides mentoring for Philadelphia high school girls to help them prepare for college and for STEM/E-STEM careers.
Developed in collaboration with the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), the UL Innovative Education Award was open to nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and Canada that serve to motivate K-12 students about science and research through E-STEM programming and education about the environment.
For their efforts, which began in 1982, in reaching out annually to qualified teens from underserved families in Philadelphia, WINS also will receive the opportunity to work directly with UL employees, including science, engineering, and technical experts, in realizing the full scope of activities in their E-STEM educational programs.
Four other recognition grants were awarded, including a top prize of $100,000. An additional $50,000 recognition grant was awarded along with two others of $25,000 each.
All five winning teams met in Chicago, on Aug. 6 at UL headquarters for the inaugural ULIEA kickoff meeting and leadership summit. Joined by UL executives, guest speakers and others directly involved in sustainability and environmental work, the summit not only recognized the winning teams for their work, but also helped cultivate a network among the teams well as UL mentors.
The event included an awards ceremony, a working session hosted by Jamie Herring, executive producer of the National Climate Assessment's digital strategy, launched by President Obama in May 2014, and a keynote talk by Barbara Guthrie, UL’s Vice President and Chief Public Safety Officer.
UL employees will work with winning teams to discuss growth strategies and business development and lend other expertise to assist the organizations. Each team will be paired with UL employees long-term to facilitate the continuation and expansion of the winning program’s work.
“We are tremendously pleased at how the Academy’s WINS program has incorporated the strongest principles of the E-STEM approach to give young people the unprecedented opportunities to build their skills in science and systems thinking,” Guthrie says. “They have demonstrated not only a passion for research and scientific investigation, but also how this work ties in critically to addressing significant environmental concerns with approaches that encourage social responsibility and the active engagement of all members in a specific community.”
WINS mentors offer a personalized blend of science education, positive youth development, and work experience for students, which includes intensive introductory training on scientific ecological principles, internships, and opportunities to explore Philadelphia’s urban ecology through issue-based science classes.
The Cultural Repercussions of Climate Change in Two Communities: A Teenage Viewpoint (CRCC) initiative engages students in Philadelphia and Ulan Bator, Mongolia to gain a greater appreciation of each other’s cultures and how they are influenced by climate change and how teenagers can play a vital role in educating their communities about climate change. Participants work with scientists, locally and globally, collecting climate data in Delaware, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, while participants in Mongolia collect similar regional data. The different regional teams compare data, while also coming to an understanding of the unique economic and cultural impacts of climate change.
“I loved WINS,” a student alumna, recalls. “The experience was unlike any other during my high school career. I continue to encourage young women to apply for the program. Between the abundance of resources and trips to colleges, I attribute most of my success in college to what I learned in WINS.”
WINS will use the grant money to continue its pilot CRCC program connecting youth from Philadelphia and Mongolia by inviting another 30 students to participate and matching them with scientists in both regions. It will further allow students to join scientists in Mongolia to study climate change and will provide for increased internship opportunities, as students gain more exposure to the diversity of scientists and science careers.
The UL Innovative Education Award proposals demonstrate the essential, urgent and significant value of hands-on education which drives the mission and goals of the NAAEE’s ongoing National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education, according to Christiane Maertens, NAAEE’s deputy director.
“Working for a sustainable future means focusing our educational efforts especially on our youngest students,” Maertens says. “There is a substantial body of research from many sources which shows that hands-on education about the environment is among the most effective ways to engage kids because of its exceptional capacity to inspire interest and build skills in STEM for all students. And, UL always has been one of the most trusted and respected exemplars of advancing scientific thinking and progress.”
UL is a premier global independent safety science company that has championed progress for more than 120 years. Its nearly 11,000 professionals are guided by the UL mission to promote safe working and living environments for all people via two distinct entities: Underwriters Laboratories Inc., a 501(c)3 public charity, and UL LLC. UL uses research and standards to continually advance and meet ever-evolving safety needs. We partner with businesses, manufacturers, trade associations and international regulatory authorities to bring solutions to a more complex global supply chain. For more information, visit http://www.UL.com.
The North American Association for Environmental Education is a pioneering membership organization dedicated to accelerating environmental literacy through education. NAAEE supports a network of more than 16,000 educators, researchers, and organizational members working in environmental education across more than 30 countries through direct membership and 54 regional affiliate organizations. Through sponsored community networks, publications, and employment development opportunities, NAAEE provides resources for educators, professionals, volunteers, and researchers. For more information, visit www.naaee.net.
About the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a leading natural history museum dedicated to advancing research, education, and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science.