1. R. Hougham
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/r-justin-hougham-aa617755
  3. Director of Upham Woods, Associate Professor and State Specialist
  5. Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center Univ of WI, University of Wisconsin - Madison
  1. Isabelle Herde
  2. Research Naturalist Program Coordinator
  4. Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center Univ of WI, University of Wisconsin - Madison
  1. Tempestt Morgan
  2. Expanding Access Program Coordinator
  4. Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center Univ of WI, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Science Strikes Back: Empowering Students and Educators to Impact Urban Water...

NE 00E02399

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12

This session concerns an ongoing project in which Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center and partners within Milwaukee collaborate to engage K-12 students from diverse backgrounds in outdoor, inquiry-driven environmental education that features hands-on experiences with data collection and science communication. The goal of this project is to broaden participation in environmental education by developing and leading a network of community members and professionals in support of community science fair events. This project utilizes the Place, Issue, Community and Science (PICS) conceptual framework which places community at the center for understanding and solving place-based issues using the scientific process.  

Two major aspects of the project include the Science Strikes Back (SSB) community science fair and Research Accelerators. Upham Woods, alongside Escuela Verde, hosted the third year of Science Strikes Back, a Milwaukee based community science fair. This fair encourages community members to critically analyze environmental issues and solve problems in their communities, producing a strong network for continued environmental education and natural resource stewardship.

Leading up to this event, Upham Woods staff met with learners for sessions called Research Accelerators. These are sessions where research naturalists, sometimes combined with content specialist mentors, work with learners on student driven inquiry projects using the scientific method. By participating in SSB activities, students and teachers in Milwaukee will be empowered to critically analyze environmental issues, solve problems in their communities, and make important decisions about local water quality.

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Original Discussion from the 2019 STEM for All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Isabelle Herde

    Isabelle Herde

    May 13, 2019 | 11:31 a.m.

    Thank you for viewing our video!

    Science Strikes Back is in its third year and we are excited to see it grow. This Milwaukee based community science fair is a great example of what community centered work looks like. Engaging community members of all ages in asking locally relevant questions is vital. Through the Digital Observation Technology Skills (DOTS) program and mentorship, we are able to support youth in developing transferrable skills and literacies. We hope to continue our work together with our partners to increase impact and reach.

    To learn more about Science Strikes Back, visit the website at:  https://www.sciencestrikesback.com/

    To learn more about the DOTS program, visit the website at: https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/environmentaleducation/programs/technology-programs/dots/

    We would love your feedback and comments. We also invite you consider the following:

    1. Other examples of building relationships and capacity through student led inquiry

    2. Other examples of student impact on the environmental issues within their local communities

  • Icon for: Stephanie Palumbo

    Stephanie Palumbo

    K-12 Teacher
    May 16, 2019 | 07:39 a.m.

    Awesome video, 

    If you are interested, here is a link to our video where we incorporate a student's community and culture in our teaching practices by gaining knowledge of culture internationally 


  • Icon for: David Campbell

    David Campbell

    May 13, 2019 | 12:05 p.m.

    The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia has a good community outreach program focused on climate change that might be a good example for you:  http://www.cuspproject.org/ 

  • Icon for: Tempestt Morgan

    Tempestt Morgan

    May 15, 2019 | 09:54 p.m.

    Thank you for the example! 

  • Icon for: Mary Murphy

    Mary Murphy

    May 14, 2019 | 10:50 a.m.

    Love the emphasis on getting kids outside.  I am curious to know how this is facilitated.  Is it through partnerships with schools or is it an informal or after school program? I would also love to know some examples of projects students did and how it impacted either the community or the student as a learner.

  • Icon for: Tempestt Morgan

    Tempestt Morgan

    May 15, 2019 | 10:18 p.m.

    Upham Woods is an informal science learning center. We have youth interact with our DOTS program both onsite and through our outreach efforts. On the outreach side of things, we work with various local partners as well as some of our developed relationships with certain schools within Milwaukee. Over the past couple years, we have created a network of partners within the Milwaukee area. check out some of work we have been doing on our website here: https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/environmentaleducation/programs/milwaukee-green-stem/ 

    To capture the work youth engage in while onsite at Upham Woods, we have them create scientific stories, or digital artifacts, which is a combination of their photos and narrative descriptions. Check out our DOTS at Upham Woods page to see some of those scientific stories: https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/uphamwoods/programs/dots-at-upham-woods/ (just click on any school for an example) 

    As for evaluating the impact our work has on participants, please check out our publication in the Journal of Experiential Education titled Bridging Natural and Digital Domains: Attitudes, Confidence, and Interest in Using Technology to Learn Outdoors here:  https://blogs.extension.wisc.edu/departmentalcomms/files/2019/01/Bridging-Natural-and-Digital-Domains.-JEE-2018.pdf

    You can also see more related publications by Dr. Justin Hougham here: https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/environmentaleducation/resources-and-links/

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Michelle Quirke
  • Icon for: Jacob Grohs

    Jacob Grohs

    May 15, 2019 | 06:02 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing! The video mentions several different reasons people attend the community science fair -- how have you built awareness, participation, and broader attendance by the community into this event?  Has it involved partnering with organizations?  What sort of practices have helped make it a great event? What sort of goals to you have for the event in the future? 

  • Icon for: Tempestt Morgan

    Tempestt Morgan

    May 15, 2019 | 10:46 p.m.

    Through the EPA grant, we have direct partners who all work together in putting on this event. We also reach out to other partners within the Milwaukee Green STEM network for assistance with spreading the word about Science Strikes Back. Learn more about the Milwaukee Green STEM network here: https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/environmentaleducation/programs/milwaukee-green-stem/

    This event is unconventional for what one may consider as a science fair. The event is open to not just youth,or limited to specific age range, but to everyone of all ages within Milwaukee and surrounding areas. You can find an elementary school aged youth next to an adult showcasing their respective projects. The people who serve as judges for the event are community members of all levels - content experts at local organizations to high school students to retired folks. No one is limited to the ways they can participate. We also collect feedback from participants in efforts to capture attendees thoughts and suggestion on making the next iteration better.

    In terms of goals, of course we wish to see the community science fair attendance grow. But even above that, we hope to increase community involvement beyond just attendance numbers. This year, we had an Escuela Verde student who was doing a pop-up shop as their senior project provide food for the event. To learn more about this project, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/saborverdemke/. Continuing to create those unique connections with the community members/organizations is definitely a goal we have for Science Strike Back, among others. 

  • Icon for: Michelle Quirke

    Michelle Quirke

    Project Manager
    May 16, 2019 | 12:23 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your project. Can you expand on how you select and train mentors for the program? 

  • Icon for: Isabelle Herde

    Isabelle Herde

    May 17, 2019 | 09:21 a.m.

    Hi Michelle - the mentors are trained informal educators who are partners in this grant. 

  • Icon for: Molly Malone

    Molly Malone

    Informal Educator
    May 16, 2019 | 01:47 p.m.

    I love the idea of the community science fair! It is so great that people of all ages and backgrounds participate. Communicating science ideas and experimental results isn't easy for everyone. Do you use a particular scaffold or guidelines to help participants prepare their "reports"?

  • Icon for: Isabelle Herde

    Isabelle Herde

    May 17, 2019 | 09:24 a.m.

    Throughout the course of their project participants are encouraged to write scientific stories. These scientific stories provide a snapshot into their projects and give them a place to pick up where they left off. These stories use data, provide a narrative of where they are and give them direction for when they pick the project back up. You can find examples here: https://sites.google.com/view/uphamwoodsdotswat...

  • Icon for: Mary Murphy

    Mary Murphy

    May 16, 2019 | 05:48 p.m.

    I, too, love the idea of a multi-generational science fair.  I am wondering if you think this event would be possible without having the infrastructure of the Upham woods and all the various informal programming that goes on.  In other words do you have enough insight from this work to offer a framework for any community?  

  • Icon for: Isabelle Herde

    Isabelle Herde

    May 17, 2019 | 09:26 a.m.

    Hi Mary! While the work we do supports the community science fair, it is possible to transplant this project to other places. Science Strikes Back started as an adult science fair and grew within its community to be what it is today. Starting by organizing with passionate community leaders, adults, and local schools would be the best way to get one off the ground where you are.

  • Icon for: Joan Freese

    Joan Freese

    Executive Producer, Ready To Learn
    May 20, 2019 | 09:33 a.m.

    Great project. I did my master's project in learning technologies at the University of Minnesota. My capstone combined place based education with mobile learning to teach middle schoolers about their urban watersheds--so we have a lot in common! At Twin Cities PBS, where I work, we ran my curriculum with Urban 4H clubs in Duluth (on Lake Superior) and Minneapolis/St. Paul (on the Mississippi). With training from the Fresh Water Society, here in the Twin Cities, I'm a Master Water Steward. I'm interested to hear more about the technologies you are using. If you don't have time to respond today, let's connect after the showcase to talk more about project synergies. Congrats on your important work! 

  • Icon for: Isabelle Herde

    Isabelle Herde

    May 20, 2019 | 09:54 a.m.

    Hi Joan! Thank you for visiting our video. I'm happy to hear about technology popping into education in thoughtful ways just West of us. Our dominant strategy for our technology integration is place based and inquiry education. Our technologies each enhance the observer's ability to document their experience and data. We use cameras as well professional grade equipment like mobile microscopes. You can find more information here https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/environmentaleducation/. Our PI has published about picking technology for education and that paper can be found here: https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/environmentaleducation/resources-and-links/.  

    I would love to hear more about your works as well. You're on the Hero Elementary project right? Have you all tried to use your approach into getting kids outside to practice environmentally based STEM education as a next step? 

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.

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