STEM Studio

Last spring, with funding from Northwestern Mutual, we conducted interviews with teachers and mentors involved with MPS’s efforts to introduce Project GUTS, SHARP Literacy’s Design Through Code (DTC) program, TEALS, and First Robotics. The goal was to understand how we might expand opportunities to develop computational thinking outside of computer science classes, by listening to what drew teachers and mentors already engaged in that type of activity to take on the task. We provided a recap of that work here.

One of the ideas that came out of that effort was to work with teams of teachers and expertise from the broader community to create and pilot real world projects that provide solid opportunities to engage students in computational thinking. We call that the STEM Studio, and are happy to report that Northwestern Mutual has provided funding to design and pilot the first projects with MPS.

Since environmental science is a spring semester focus for MPS middle schools, we used our November Collab Lab on Green Infrastructure to generate ideas for potential projects. One of those is the Southeastern Wisconsin Watershed’s Trust’s (Sweetwater) Adopt a Storm Drain Program. As we talked about what that might look like as a STEM Studio project, Sweetwater pointed us to the Smart City Reverse RFP offered by Caravela IoT. That initiative seeks to demonstrate the potential to leverage a network of sensors that detect environmental data. Winning submissions would receive both equipment and technical support to pilot a project. We partnered with MPS, Sweetwater and Reflo to put in a joint proposal which uses STEM Studio pilot projects to both deploy sensors and expose students to the technology. We were selected as one of the winners and are happy to now have Caravela IoT engaged with us in the STEM Studio effort.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be pulling our teams of teachers together with community partners to design and pilot the experiences we want students to have as they take on the STEM Studio projects. Collab Lab attendees will know that one of our criteria for projects we get involved in is the ability to scale across schools with network effects. As part of the STEM Studio pilots, we’ll work with the teams to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what the next cohort of teachers will want to have in place to take on or extend the challenge in their schools.

Collab Lab 30: Green Infrastructure

How can we leverage green infrastructure projects to create authentic learning experiences for students?

Whether they are in place or in design, green infrastructure projects offer opportunities for student explorations across a broad range of issues. Join us to connect with K-12 colleagues from across the area, as well as community partners from higher ed, industry, and non-profits to share ideas, and explore options where collaborative efforts could help move things along.


5:30 – 6:00 Grab something to eat and drink, say hello

6:00 – 6:30 Introductions

6:30- 8:30 Let’s work through some ideas

Food and beverage will be provided. There is no charge for participation but space is limited!


Featured Participants

Among others, you’ll have a chance to talk with:

Catherine Bronikowski — Math Dept. Chair, North Division High School

In addition to her work teaching Pre-Calculus, Geometry, and Introduction to Computer Science (through TEALS), Catherine is the Faculty Advisor for North Division High School’s Green Redevelopment Plan, Service Learning partnerships with Marquette University and UW-Milwaukee, and a faculty member on Division’s Learning and Community Schools Leadership Teams.  North Division High School is one of five schools working with Reflo on a conceptual green schoolyard redesign in 2019.


Justin Hegarty — Executive Director
Lisa Neeb — Green Schools Project Manager
Reflo – Sustainable Water Solutions

Reflo runs a robust Green & Healthy Schools Program. In 2018 alone, they helped shepherd construction of green infrastructure projects at two Milwaukee Public Schools, supported coalition efforts to raise $1.2 million for greening schoolyards, designed five conceptual plans for green schoolyard redevelopment, and conducted the third annual Green Schools Conference featuring over 260 participants.

Justin is an environmental engineer and co-founder of Reflo. He has worked as an environmental consultant for 10 years working on green infrastructure, alternative energy, and brownfield remediation projects. Lisa has shared her passion for animals and the environment working as a science educator in museums, zoos, and traditional classrooms in Wisconsin and Michigan. She uses hands-on learning and inquiry to encourage students to be curious, creative, and critical thinkers while they take risks and learn by experiencing the world around them.


Kara Koch — Senior Project Engineer,  Stormwater Solutions Engineering

Kara specializes in green infrastructure design, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, and construction management. Her project experiences involve conceptual site planning, full site design, modeling, permitting, community engagement, construction documentation, and oversight. Kara’s passion for water harvesting and sustainable stormwater management has led her to be involved with various volunteering activities with Milwaukee community organizations to educate the community and young students about water conservation.


Linda Reid — Principal,  Water 365

Linda works with individuals and organizations to support freshwater sustainability and resilience efforts through capacity development, technical consulting, and coaching. She formed and led the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Institute for Water Business — the first of its kind in the United States — created to develop water business acumen and capacity through education, research, and multi-stakeholder collaboration. Linda has more than 10 years experience with industry, government and academic organizations in the freshwater space, focusing mainly on policy and legal issues as well as helping water technology companies bring their products and services to market.


Erick Shambarger — Director of Environmental Sustainability, City of Milwaukee

Erick leads the Environmental Collaboration Office. The Environmental Collaboration Office was created to develop practical solutions that benefit Milwaukee’s environment and economy. This includes the City’s Green Infrastructure Plan published in June. Prior to his current role, he served as Deputy Director for 5 years, and as City Economist before that. Erick oversaw implementation of the Milwaukee Energy Efficiency (Me2) program and the Milwaukee Better Buildings Challenge, chaired the City’s Energy Reduction Team to reduce energy use across City operations, and promotes innovative storm water management practices and green infrastructure.


Rosheen Styczinski — Principal/Landscape Architect, New Eden Landscape Architecture
New Eden creates eco-friendly havens also help improve environmental sustainability and encourage social interaction and healing. Rosheen brings more than 30 years of experience and insights to her innovative work. She’s a national leader in the field, and her award-winning projects can be found across the Milwaukee metro and beyond. Her specialties include green infrastructure design, including green roofs and urban sustainable site design; construction management; healing and therapeutic gardens.


James Wasley — Professor, UWM School of Architecture & Urban Planning

James is a director of the Institute for Ecological Design within the School of Architecture. He is the Past-President of both the Society of Building Science Educators and the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance; now USGBC Wisconsin. He was a founding member of
WGBA in 1997. Professor Wasley’s current research is in the creation of ecological urban waterscapes. He has produced stormwater masterplans and designed and built stormwater demonstration projects on the UWM campus and around the UWM School of Freshwater
Sciences since 2005. Most recently, he has organized an NSF funded workshop on ‘Reimagining Water: Linking Sustainable Urban Water Systems in the Great Lakes Basin.’ This work on the future of waterfront cities is ongoing

2023-24 Collab Labs

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