Investing in the transformative power of communities.

Education partners across the Northeast are connecting to build local learning communities committed to empowering the next generation of climate stewards. Together, we will forge learning ecosystems that connect educators of all kinds to build the climate and data literacy youth will need to tackle the challenges ahead.

Investing in the transformative power of educators.

Formal and informal educators alike are powerful role models. Interacting with classroom teachers, 4-H volunteers, librarians, and other educators through shared investigations demonstrates the relevance of science for local communities. We envision learning ecosystems that enable educators to provide youth with multiple pathways to gain confidence, interest, and agency in science.

A woman with glasses faces the camera, with a big piece of white paper behind her with blue marker writing on it. She is wearing a white mask and seems to be intently listening to someone out of frame.
Masked educators and CLE facilitators stand in a circle in a room with a bright wood floor, speckled with circular white reflections from lights above. A facilitator stands in the center of the circle in a maroon shirt, with her arms outstretched to the sides, palms up.
Two masked people stare at a big white piece of paper on a circular round desk. The person on the left has glasses on and is standing, leaning over onto the desk in a blue shirt and blue mask, holding a blue pen.. The woman on the right is facing the camera, sitting down, with a black and brown striped shirt and a white mask.

Learning Ecosystems Northeast

We envision a growing network of regional learning ecosystems across the Northeast who are supporting one another to create and implement innovations. And we are building communities that gain independence and sustainability over time as local institutions and educators take the reins from project partners and staff.

Science centers are learning ecosystem hubs across the Northeast.

With support from NASA, small science and technology centers across the Northeast have gathered in a community of practice focused on creating data-rich climate learning experiences for informal spaces. From small nature centers to regional science museums, this diverse peer community regularly meets to experiment with exhibits and workshops designed for a variety of museum audiences. Members are now in the process of strengthening partnerships with local formal and informal educators as the foundation for connected learning ecosystems serving their regions.

Community of Practice partners
Students sit cross-legged on the ground in a room dimly lit with purple walls, so that the whole room feels purple. In the center of the room there is a large glowing purplish globe-like structure, streaked with cloud-like white patterns. Glow in the dark five-pointed plastic star shapes dangle in lines from the ceiling, they are green, pink, yellow, orange, and red.
Educators form the heart of learning ecosystems.

We envision a time when all the educators interacting with an individual student share trust and intent to broker experiences that enrich each youth’s personal learning ecosystem.

Youth navigate within their own learning ecosystems, but with support educators can broaden the learning pathways available to youth. This work seeks to enable educators to more effectively guide youth experiences with science by connecting learning pathways inside and outside the classroom.

We seek to build confident, competent educators and librarians who view effectively brokering youth experiences as essential to their work. We aim to support them to have the knowledge, tools, and resources needed to offer compelling experiences with data and climate learning.

Shared educator professional learning experiences will support educators to build expertise within and create communication corridors between contexts — moving best practices across the boundary between informal and formal learning.

Two men and two women sit/stand around a circular table that has a big piece of rectangular white paper on it. A man in a black mask and a plaid shirt leans over the paper and uses a pink marker to right words near the top of the page. The others look on, also masked.
Climate change is a compelling context for STEM learning.

We aim to bolster students’ climate and data literacy as an investment in the lifelong critical thinking skills that will serve them as ecosystem stewards and as members of engaged communities.

Climate change, climate impacts, and environmental justice are compelling and locally relevant contexts for building key STEM skills and understanding of the nature of science. We take a place-based approach to climate investigations that are grounded in combinations of local and global data. Fundamental to the approach is our focus on data literacy, a critical component of science literacy and for active participation as a global citizen.

NASA is a critical partner in this work through its data assets, science, and scientists in addition to its financial investments.

Two young students face away from the camera toward a dense green meadow. The boy on the left is in a brown shirt, the boy on the right in a red shirt. The boy on the right is holding a clipboard with white paper clipped on.
Our work will center underrepresented voices and broaden participation.

When learning ecosystems together focus on compelling, locally relevant topics, youth find avenues to leverage community culture and values as inherent assets investigating climate change.

We are challenging ourselves to move away from a "one size fits all" model to mindfully engage underrepresented communities in the co-design of learning experiences. With a strong focus on rural, Indigenous, and immigrant/refugee communities, we envision elevating youth voices about issues that matter to them and creating pathways for STEM learning that embrace and leverage community cultures. Today’s youth are keenly aware of the links between climate change and environmental justice, and we aim to outfit them to apply the key skills of science to create solutions for their communities. We maintain that learning ecosystems are essential for youth to recognize the relevance of science for their local communities and to surround youth with a network of adults invested in STEM education.

Two people stand close to each other looking down at a mesh rectangle that has small marine life and debris on it. A man in a white shirt and orange ball cap sits on a dock on the left, and someone else in a gray shirt and a backwards black ball cap stands in the shallow water looking down on the right.
Educators and communities connect learning experiences and contexts.

We want youth to have multiple entry points and broader pathways to build STEM interest and identity through learning experiences that are connected inside and outside school.

The project connects informal and formal learning experiences, giving students repeated exposure to skills and content through a variety of different kinds of engagements. We draw on values and goals from multiple settings and identify practices in one setting that can be used in another to support and engage diverse learners. As youth move through their world they might learn about a citizen science investigation through a visit to the library, study relevant data visualizations in the classroom, hear a NASA scientist talk about a related global investigation, and conduct community interviews as part of their after-school club to uncover cultural perspectives on the issue. We are working toward a future when educators within a region are mindfully creating these connected opportunities and actively brokering youth to move from one context to the next.

Four students gather around two black laptops. The one on the right is in a green shirt, and is pointing to something on the screen.
We work in the open.

As a project community, we embrace “working in the open” and strive to enable transparency in everything we do.

Communities are founded on trust and we believe transparency in our work is a central tenant in building trust. This is particularly critical in working with underserved communities who are most affected by climate change. We therefore seek to enable transparency both in how we conduct the work of the project and by emphasizing public storytelling as a means to lift up the experience of youth and educators in communities. We will also aim to enable co-development, prototyping, sharing, and risk-taking with communities, as well as public reflections on our experiences and collaborative work products. Ultimately this commitment to transparency is essential to authentically achieve the other project principles.