Los Angeles High School Students Conduct Environmental Research Alongside Scientists

The 50 winning students represent 35 schools

Fifty high school students from Los Angeles County schools have been awarded an Ignite LA Student Science Award, a fellowship program sponsored by the LA-based Durfee Foundation, in partnership with Earthwatch.

Earthwatch is an international environmental organization whose mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

The winning 50 students were selected from a competitive pool of 230 high school students from Los Angeles County who might not self-identify as science-tracked, but who are well rounded and excel in the arts and humanities.

The program aims to ignite curiosity and interest in STEAM education through participation in a scientific field research expedition this summer. Participation in this experience encourages students to think differently about what science looks like as a career (i.e. not just a chemist in a lab coat) and empower the notion that STEAM careers are attainable, accessible and alluring.

This summer, 50 Ignite LA Student Science Awards recipients will travel to one of five different locations across the United States to help conduct hands-on scientific field research:

  • •    Schoodic Education and Research Center, Acadia National Park, Maine
  • •    Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; Edgewater, Md.
  • •    Aransas National Wildlife Refuge; Austwell, Texas
  • •    Eglin Air Force Base (formerly Choctawhatchee National Forest), Florida
  • •    Sagehen Creek Research Station (near Lake Tahoe), California and Nevada

Each expedition provides students the opportunity to work alongside world-class scientists, collect scientific data, exercise the scientific process, and explore a unique natural environment with a diverse group of peers.

In addition to the cohort of 50 students, the Ignite program will also send 10 high school science teachers from schools in Los Angeles County on a teacher expedition to the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Manitoba, Canada.  The program recognizes the importance for teachers to get out of the classroom to engage in field work and collegial exchange around best practices in science education.

Over the 22 year partnership, Earthwatch and the Durfee Foundation have provided over 1,000 high school students with this exciting and impactful educational opportunity. 

A 2010 evaluation of the Ignite LA Student Science Awards showed that 78% of prior participants reported becoming more interested in science outside of the classroom, and more than 50% went on to major in science, and an additional 32% reported pursuing science courses in college.

In total, 230 students from 52 schools across Los Angeles County applied for the LA Student Science Awards, with the 50 awarded students representing 35 schools.

Interested students are urged to keep an eye out for Earthwatch’s LA Outreach Coordinator in their school this upcoming fall or online to participate in the 2015 Ignite LA Student Science Awards.


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