A new education center in a riverside park in Stamford, Connecticut will connect communities to nature, promote sustainability and apply to inspire the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals. I teach science. As climate change and biodiversity loss accelerate, it is more important than ever to empower people to care about how their actions and career choices affect the environment. . The non-profit Mill River Park Collaborative is a way for local projects to benefit from corporate partnerships and connect young people in their communities to relevant, practical science and environmental education to have a big impact with long-term results. is a shining example of

From a ‘garbage dump’ to a revitalized ecosystem and community center

Mill River Park was built over the years. Nearly a century old, if you count the town’s forgotten plans. Before the park opened in 2013, the area was far from the lush green space that planners envisioned. Instead of being a place for family and recreation, it was “basically treated like a dumping ground,” Kristia Yanofsky, the park’s head of education and sustainability, candidly told Triple Pandit. rice field.

Transforming the waterfront was a decades-long group effort involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps removed his two dams and concrete channel walls, restoring the riverbanks to their natural state. This allowed the riverbanks to absorb excess flooding, effectively removing a 100-year-old floodplain from downtown Stamford, Janowski explained.

The Mill River Park Collaborative was born out of a partnership between the City of Stamford and The Trust for Public Land. After the Corps left, they were tasked with maintaining and continuing the restoration, Janowski said. , making it a true community effort.

STEM Education at Whittingham Discovery Center

A new science center connecting locals and nature

The riverfront transformation is exciting, but the recently opened Whittingham Discovery Center makes Mill River Park special. “It’s about connecting people and nature,” Janowski said when describing the educational space, which has always been part of the park’s plans.

The building itself is a symbol of this goal. Built to mimic the natural environment and use solar panels, it is expected to supply about 85% of its own energy. The center consists of museum exhibits related to the local area, including aquariums housing local species. Classrooms throughout the complex, including those made possible by our partnership with Henkel North America, focus on how the STEM field relates to nature.

This spring, the park rang with its first field trips and test classes. Full programming begins in the fall from 3rd grade through his 5th grade and will eventually expand to include students from kindergarten through high school. “In class, we explore concepts through experiments in the lab, then go out and discover how those same concepts manifest themselves in nature,” he says. Lessons cover topics such as sustainability, energy conservation, waste reduction, biomimicry, packaging reduction, and solar he panels.

“Ultimately, this will be a place to spread awareness of sustainability and environmental issues,” said Yanowski, adding that the park “provides a place for people to connect with nature in an urban environment.” . About the goals of the park and science center, she hopes to first help people build a connection with nature and then teach them the science behind the natural environment. “When they realize they are connected, they care more,” she said.

Inside STEM education at the Whittingham Discovery Center
Exhibits within the Whittingham Discovery Center educate visitors about the local ecosystem.

Corporate partnerships help bring local STEM education to life

The educational programs offered in the Science Center classrooms play a major role in achieving these goals. One of the classrooms is sponsored by Henkel North America as part of Researchers’ World, a STEM outreach program for young people. The program has already reached her 81,000 children in 19 countries. “The classrooms have customized science lab equipment and workstations for up to 20 elementary school students,” said her vice president of corporate communications at Henkel in North America, her president and executive of the program, her sponsor. says her Jennifer Schiavone. The mobile Henkel Researcher’s World Discovery Cart acts as a weekend extension of the classroom, reaching students across the park with interactive lessons.

Janowski explained that the classroom is very child-centered, with fun cartoon canvases and colorful Researchers’ World rugs, designed to create a stimulating atmosphere for learning. Educators partner with Henkel to inspire students in their communities with Henkel lessons developed in partnership with Germany’s leading universities and adapted for parks. He one of such classes is glue. This includes lab lessons and trips to the park to observe naturally sticky substances, reinforcing what students have learned in the classroom.

The partnership between Mill River Park and Henkel shares a purpose and a vision. “We are passionate about growing his Henkel Researchers’ World in North America, reaching out to the next generation of scientists and inspiring their curiosity about STEM learning,” he said. says. “By setting up a dedicated classroom, she can meet the need to reach more children with her STEM education in a growing and diversifying community.”

In fact, Mill River Park is the perfect place to bring STEM education to a diverse, historically underserved community. The river used to serve as a boundary between the downtown core and Stamford’s poorest neighborhood, the West Side, but now the Greenway connects her two neighborhoods. The park is also an ideal location for Henkel North America to be involved. This is because our headquarters are located a few blocks away and our organizational values ​​are shared. “The program engages young people with hands-on, interactive experiments created to spark their curiosity about science,” he said.

A legacy of environmental education

“We want to influence the next generation to change the way work is done,” Janowski said of the future benefits he expects for children who visit the center. As an example, she mentioned architects and how learning about sustainability as a child affects how you design buildings as an adult. “Let them think,” she said. “Long-Term, Environmentally Thinking, Sustainability Oriented, STEM Career Fields”

For brands looking to blend purpose and profit, Researchers’ World provides a worthy example to follow. As a manufacturer of consumer goods such as detergents and adhesives, STEM belongs to Henkel. Sharing scientific knowledge and seeking to involve children of all backgrounds in his STEM is a natural fit for the company. This effort reflects that purpose and helps grow a diverse pipeline of scientists for the future.

Schiavone explained why partnering with the Mill River Park Collaborative made sense for the company. Our sustainability strategy is inspired by our purpose of being pioneers that benefit generations. We want to use our pioneering spirit, knowledge, products and technology to enrich and improve the lives of billions of people every day and shape a viable future for the next generation. ”

This article series is sponsored by Henkel North America and produced by the TriplePundit editorial team.

Image credit: Mill River Park Collaborative

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