Science and Sustainability Education

Groundwork uses its placed-based approach to promote science, technology, engineering and math skills, also known as STEM education.  Through experiential classrooms, we are making STEM concepts tangible and relevant to thousands of students each year at the Science Barge, the EcoHouse, our Garden Classrooms, and the American Eel Outdoor Classroom.  These external science labs provide rigorous, engaging, hands-on lessons tied to national standards.

Besides teaching in these field locations, we bring STEM education directly to teachers and students in their classrooms through annual contracts with the Yonkers Board of Education.  Each year we serve hundreds of students this way, reinforcing concepts they learned at the experiential, off-site centers and in other programs.  A federally-funded study concluded that Science Barge workshops with in-school reinforcement increased student STEM retention by more than 50%.

Expanding on this school-based work, we have several new initiatives underway:

  • Building outdoor mini-refuge classrooms at School 13, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Developing a Career and Technical Education (CTE) track in Natural Resource Science, in partnership with Yonkers Public Schools and the New York State Department of Education
  • Coordinating the annual Science Fair at Gorton High School to provide students with the support they need to develop and implement innovative science projects

Because of our unique approach to teaching about science and sustainability, we were one of only six organizations across the country to win a 4-year grant in 2015 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The grant will enable us to expand climate change and resiliency education programs at our experiential learning centers and to develop climate change curricula for select schools in Yonkers. Partners include Sarah Lawrence College’s Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Hitachi America, and Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.