Skip to content

Urban Environmental Stewards: Youth Aid Community with STEM


University of Wisconsin-Madison, in collaboration with the Southeast Michigan Stewardship (SEMIS) Coalition, University of Michigan, and the National Science Foundation (NSF)


Ypsilanti, MI



Urban STEM Stewards: Expanding career interests through citizen science with community partners. In this collaboration (U. of Wisconsin-Madison, U. of Michigan, SEMIS) we documented the efficacy of urban place-based civic science projects. Classes of middle- and high-school students collaborate with teachers and community partners to study and mitigate environmental problems in their communities. Working in teams they use STEM content, methods, tools, technologies and, drawing from their cultural and community knowledge, they gather data on local environmental conditions. After analyzing their data, they choose actions to mitigate the problem and then present their work to others in various public venues. This place-based civic science model is a way to reimagine environmental and STEM education – by focusing on human-nature interdependence in the urban ecology. When students’ attention is drawn to how they are using STEM, their stereotypes about science expand from work done in labs to work that they can do to benefit their community. Through projects youth learn to reinhabit communities and reclaim narratives about those communities.