Green Infrastructure Technologies Inspire STEM Interest

Green Infrastructure Technologies Inspire STEM Interest


This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase student motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by engaging middle school students in the science and engineering of urban green technologies (e.g., bio retention planters, green roofs and rain gardens). By developing student awareness and understanding of Green Infrastructure (GI) technologies, the project will prepare students to become informed citizens who can research, design, manage, monitor and sustain GI systems of the future. The project includes students at northern New Jersey middle schools that are located within densely populated urban cities impacted by the effects of combined sewer overflows, rising coastal waters, frequent flooding resulting from changing climatic conditions, and severe natural disasters (e.g., Hurricane Sandy in 2012).  Middle school teachers and students will engage with the Stevens Institute of Technology Living Laboratory, a state-of-the-art outdoor GI research laboratory, by interacting with researchers and through classroom activities and fieldwork experiences. Students will be able to view research facilities and real-time events virtually, thus improving accessibility of the experiences.

Civil Engineering faculty at Stevens Institute of Technology, in collaboration with educators at the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE), will prepare and support 30 urban middle school teachers and actively engage teams of students in design-based curricular activities that infuse engineering with earth science content and practices. Students will be challenged to conduct a series of investigations to identify the storm water runoff issues for their school or community, use the findings to design and test a model to address the water retention issues, and develop a proposal for addressing the identified issues using one or more GI technologies. Ask-an-Expert webinars and virtual tours of the Stevens Living Laboratory provide a platform for students to interact with those in GI-related careers such as civil and environmental engineers, urban planners and ecologists, environmental scientists, landscape architects and horticultural specialists. Student surveys combined with an examination of student work products, records of student interactions with those in GI-related careers, and teacher feedback on classroom and fieldwork activities will provide evidence of the extent to which an understanding of GI technologies stimulates student awareness of and interest in GI-related careers and education.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.


Principal Investigator(s): 


Award Number: 



2018 - 2020


Stevens Institute of Technology NJ

Project Status: