Beyond the Classroom: Exploring Environmental Issues

Keystone Science School (KSS) is offering a 2-day teacher training, Beyond the Classroom: Exploring Environmental Issues, June 6-7, 2019. Teachers will learn the KSS non-biased framework for exploring controversial issues within the classroom. Meals, lodging, and digital copies of all lesson plans are included. CEU’s are also available for an additional cost.

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“Polarized” is a word that creeps into almost all aspects of our life. Education can provide students with opportunities for the development of personal opinions and more importantly strategies of collaboration and consensus building. It’s not just about forming opinions but communicating those opinions and being open to a wide variety of perspectives.

For over 46 years, Keystone Science School (KSS) has had the mission of inspiring curiosity and broadening perspectives and been achieving this through our school field trip programs, camping based programs, and summer camp programs. With this mission in mind, we have developed several curricula focused on engaging students in the study of contentious issues.

Through these curricula, students explore all sides of an issue and learn about the importance of meaningful dialogue and collaboration when developing solutions to these controversial topics. We have taken this student curriculum and developed a framework which can be used by any teacher to lead their students in an issue-based unit. For over the last 25 years we have been training teachers on this framework, providing each teacher with the skills and lessons to go into their classroom and explore challenging topics within their classroom.

The next teacher training, Beyond the Classroom: Exploring Environmental Issues will be held on June 6-7, 2019. Teachers will receive curriculum and training to explore local and regional issues using Keystone Science School’s non-biased framework. Participating teachers will receive a complete set of lesson plans allowing teachers to facilitate an issues-based curriculum within their classroom. Teachers are also provided dedicated time towards designing their specific curriculum to be used in their classroom. With the assistance of the Keystone Science School education team, all participating teachers will walk away with their unit planned and ready to implement in their classroom.

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Specifically, teachers will learn how to identify stakeholders, conduct field-based research, and gain background information to support policy recommendations within a chosen environmental issue. The closing activity will be a “Town Hall Meeting” which will allow students to collaborate across differing opinions as they develop policy recommendations within the topic they are exploring. We will be using the regional issue of water management in a demonstration of our issues-based curriculum. CEU’s will be available to all teachers through the Colorado School of Mines.

Beyond the Classroom Details
Location: Keystone Science School
Dates: June 6-7, 2019
Cost: $100 with additional cost for CEU’s
More Information: (970) 468-2098 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Girls in STEM High School Mentors

By Carrie Scheick, Program Coordinator

Our next program is Saturday, April 27th focusing on careers in Landscape Architecture and Design. Girls and their mothers, grades 3-12th grade are invited to participate. Learn more on the Girls in STEM webpage. If you have questions about the program or High School mentorship please contact KSS at (970)468-2098 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

There is a large gender gap within STEM careers. Keystone Science School hopes to engage as many female students in STEM education and challenge the gender gap to inspire social change within STEM fields. We launched our Girls in STEM program in 2015, targeting 3rd-8th grade students hoping to get them excited about these fields and careers.

Four years later, we expanded our program to include a Girls in STEM High School Mentor Program, a leadership program striving to empower high school girls to be confident and positive female role models, as well as encourage continued engagement in STEM opportunities.

This idea was born from Maia Wang, a long time KSS program participant. Maia has been a part of our Girls in STEM program since it started. Her interest in the activities and her enjoyment of science, math, and academic related subjects is what made her want to get involved. Maia’s favorite thing about the program is learning how to do new things. “One year we learned how to code and design a website and I just thought that was the coolest thing.”


I first met Maia during the summer of 2017 and then worked with her during Girls in STEM programs throughout the fall. We were catching up this past summer and I asked if I would see her at any of the Girls in STEM programs the rest of the year. She told me that she was a freshman in high school would no longer be able to participate. “I was disappointed as I think that the activities and experience you gain by doing Girls in STEM are really valuable,” said Maia. “I think that any aged girl should be able to educate themselves about women in STEM careers and ideas involving STEM.”

Maia’s family agrees, they love that their daughter has been part of our program. “There is pretty substantial research showing that many girls lose confidence in their potential to excel in STEM fields around 5th-8th grade.” says Cecila Wang, Maia’s mother. “We think it is wonderful for Maia to meet, learn from and work on a tangible project with the amazing counselors/instructors and fantastic volunteers in the program. Each interaction and experience has been so positive, and we love the breadth of STEM careers she is finding out about.” Her parents have also noticed positive changes in Maia based on her involvement in Girls in STEM. “It has certainly played a role in her confidence in her abilities and her belief that the world is full of opportunities, and if she goes for them she will be enriched in some way. It has also nurtured her curiosity about the world.”

During our conversation, Maia simply asked me “What if there was some way that we could still be involved once we’re in high school?” Gears slowly started turning in my head. I smiled and told her I would try to figure something out.
I started to think about ways that we could continue to engage high school students in our Girls in STEM program. How could we provide development of interpersonal skills and leadership opportunities? Our summer camp has a great leadership development program for middle and high school students - the Counselor Assistant Program (CAP). What if our Girls in STEM program had something similar?

Thus, the Girls in STEM High School Mentor Program was born. Keystone Science School invites all interested high school girls to get involved, regardless of if they have participated in our Girls in STEM program before. We are piloting this program this year, and hoping it will continue to grow in the years to come. We want to see girls who participate as an elementary and middle school students, stay involved in our programs after their transition to high school. By transitioning these girls from participants to leaders within our program, we are fostering a continued connection to STEM topics and developing these girls into future STEM leaders. We hope these girls choose to pursue a STEM degree and/or career and then come full circle back to our program as a professional mentor.

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That’s the really big picture and long term goal of our Girls in STEM program. In the short term, we hope that our High School Mentor program empowers high school girls to be positive female role models, develops friendships, and inspires confidence and self-awareness. In addition to developing these skills, girls can participate in our programming at a significantly reduced cost and earn community service hours.

Our Girls in STEM program fosters an amazing community of females, students and adults alike, and we hope you join us!

Carrie Scheick
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NKJN Program Reconnects a Generation to the Outdoors

At the beginning of the 2017 year, Keystone Science School (KSS) received approximately $30,000 annually for five years in new funding from the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) competitive grant program, which aims to reconnect an entire generation with the great outdoors. The funding came through Thorne Nature Experience’s Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza (NKJN) program which provides programming for students in grades K-12 with a focus on backyard to backcountry programming. There are over 75 partner organizations and Keystone Science School is excited to be one of the many program partners with a focus of providing backcountry experiences.


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Reflecting on Our 2018 Impact


We are excited to share that we reached more than 8,700 youth and adults in 2018 through our three program areas: School-Based Programs, Camp and Adventure Programs, and Education Programs.

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Girls in STEM: Health Care

By Carrie Scheick, Program Coordinator

Girls in STEM has a goal of inspiring young women to engage with STEM subjects throughout their education career. Our next Girls in STEM program is April 27th and has a focus on careers within landscape design and architecture. Check out our website to register.

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Our Girls in STEM Health Care program last weekend was certainly one to remember! This program was incredibly impactful thanks to our program partners - Summit Orthopedics, Kaiser Permanente, Colorado Mountain College, and St. Anthony Summit Medical Center. With their help, this experiential learning program was taken to a whole new level. It was so encouraging to meet and interact with local professionals in the medical field; we learned that there are a lot of different options in the way that you can care for people.

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