Recognizing Innovative E-STEM Programs that Power a Sustainable Tomorrow: The UL Innovative Education Award

UL Innovative Education Award Winners Announced

August 15, 2018

Underwriters Laboratories and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) awarded five 2017 UL Innovative Education Award (ULIEA) winners with a combined $250,000 in recognition grants for furthering environmental education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning, or E-STEM.

The Chicago Botanic Garden's Science Career Continuum received the $100,000 award for their work fostering the next generation of environmental and conservation scientists. By engaging Chicago public middle and high schoolers in a summer science immersion program, Science Career Continuum paves the way for students to study science in college. Participating students who go on to receive undergraduate degrees may apply for professional research initiative opportunities as well as internships. Students may also apply to Northwestern University, as the Garden partners with the institution to offer a Master's and Doctorate degree in Plant Biology and Conservation.

Four additional non-profit programs received recognition grants totaling $150,000:

  • Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership (Rockland, Maine) $50,000 - Hurricane Island invites local students to work with research scientists and experts to learn about ecology, marine science and citizen science initiatives. The island is completely remote and relies on environmentally sensitive technology to operate and supplement education initiatives and program demonstrations.
  • Design Squad Global (Boston) $50,000 - Middle school students in the Design Squad Global community choose a challenge or activity and then partner with another group of students in another part of the world. Together, they collaborate with their engineering ideas and address global challenges.
  • Chicago Eco House (Chicago) $25,000 - Chicago Eco House is an after-school program for students living in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood. The center helps youth revitalize the community and think sustainably through urban agriculture, green building, green energy, 3D printing, and carpentry projects.
  • Re-Energy (Alberta, Canada) $25,000 - Re-Energy engages middle and high school students in hands-on energy science activities like building wind turbines and hydroelectric generators. The curriculum and website help students grasp applied science techniques to create a more sustainable future.

"All of our 2017 winners understand what's at stake," says Cara Gizzi, Underwriters Laboratories Vice President of Education and Outreach. "They're not just thinking about short-term goals. They are actively educating and preparing today's youth - tomorrow's leaders - to solve the problems of our future world. It's exciting to see students across North America receiving the tools to identify and address environmental problems with creative, STEM-based and net-positive solutions. We are so inspired and hopeful for the future."

All five winning organizations met at Underwriters Laboratories' campus in Northbrook, Ill. Aug. 9-11, 2017 for the third ULIEA Leadership Summit to share best practices and celebrate their collective success in pushing E-STEM forward.

Underwriters Laboratories developed the ULIEA program in collaboration with NAAEE in 2015. The program is open to non-profit organizations in the U.S. and Canada who engage K-12 students in STEM and environmental education. Ultimately, UL and NAAEE aim to support organizations in inspiring and preparing future engineers, conservationists, researchers, scientists and problem solvers.

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