Google grant to fund STEM education through Environmental Science Center

Press release:

The Environmental Science Center (ESC) will be reaching students and families through out-of-school science education thanks to a $10,000 grant from Google.

Google awarded ESC this grant to provide after-school, school-break, and summer programs at schools, low-income apartment complexes, and community centers in South King County.

“We strive to close the academic achievement gap that often exists for low-income students who do not have equal access to enrichment programs to enhance their learning,” says Caroline Bobanick, Executive Director of the Environmental Science Center.

For these out-of-school programs, ESC works with several social service organizations to engage their students and families including New Futures, Community Schools Collaboration, Neighborhood House, and Para los Niños.

The city of Burien also works with ESC to provide STEM education at programs such as Gym Jams and Camp Craz.

The Google grant will be used to reach out to students and families with free programs at places such as Windsor Heights Apartments in SeaTac, Arbor Heights and Woodridge Park Apartments in Burien, and schools in the Highline School District.

Jenn Ramirez Robson, Executive Director of New Futures says, “Working with ESC not only enriches the programming that we offer to our participants but it also multiplies the impact of our efforts above and beyond what we could achieve alone.”

ESC naturalists, or environmental educators, deliver on-site STEM lessons including hands-on activities on subjects such as marine and forest habitats, green practices, waste management, water conservation, and water quality testing.

“ESC believes that families and students who experience hands-on environmental science better understand the impact they have on their environment and ultimately how they can be better stewards of their natural resources,” says Bobanick.

For example, students at one of the Community Schools Collaboration sites recently learned about ground water contamination through a project where they took samples from a model watershed and tested the pH of the soil. After realizing how pollution can affect drinking water, they started working on a plan to share this message and change the behaviors of their classmates, teachers and parents.

These kinds of programs are part of a larger picture of which Google provides funding. Through their Community Grants program, each Google office location makes grants to local nonprofit organizations and schools that address four core areas:

Bridging the digital divide
Educating about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
Reducing the carbon footprint
Training small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and schools to use online tools effectively

Google has over 1,000 employees in Seattle and Kirkland and since 2011 they have awarded more than $3 million in to non-profits and schools in Washington. Its latest round of 2012 grants focused on efforts that help to reduce communities’ carbon footprints.

Through the ESC’s programs, students of South King County will be working to gain STEM knowledge and to appreciate the environment so that they can become better stewards of our community.

More information about Google’s green initiatives outside of community grants can be found at google.com/green/

Find out more about the Environmental Science Center at www.EnvScienceCenter.org.

The Environmental Science Center’s Community Report 2011-2012 can be found at www.EnvScienceCenter.org/About /Community-Report/.

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