Carnegie Mellon University
December 07, 2015

Nearby Nature Project Empowers Students To Monitor Their Environment

Teacher Training, Classroom Kits Enable Inquiry-based Learning

By Byron Spice / 412-268-9068 /

Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab will launch an educational project next year called Nearby Nature that will enable middle school and high school students in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to study scientific phenomena in almost any outdoor space, in both built and natural settings.

Sponsored by the Benedum Foundation and Chevron, Nearby Nature will provide tools that empower students to measure otherwise invisible aspects of their surroundings, such as fine particulates in the air and dissolved solids in water.

Nearby Nature
Nearby Nature team members Dawn Embrey-King of West Virginia’s Regional Education Service Agencies, Anastasia Klemm of West Liberty University, Tarabeth Brumfield of Marshall University and the CREATE Lab’s Debbie Workman check ground temperatures during a project meeting at Carnegie Mellon.

Teacher training will be provided through the CREATE Lab and its West Virginia satellite centers at West Liberty University and Marshall University, as well as through Intermediate Unit 1 in Coal Center, Pa., and Regional Educational Service Area (RESA) 3 in Dunbar, W.Va.

The project will develop curriculum and classroom kits for inquiry-based learning, with both indoor and outdoor activities. Kits will include technology from the CREATE Lab and the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program that will be available through a lending library for schools teachers and students.

“Students perform genuine science and not worksheets that are discarded after completion,” said Rick Sharpe, an earth science teacher at Huntington (W.Va.) High School and a certified GLOBE trainer. “Students are more engaged because the learning is hands‐on and relevant.”

The project is part of a larger effort of the Robotics Institute’s CREATE Lab and CMU’s School of Computer Science to push for environmental education through technology innovation and social empowerment.

For more information or to learn how to get involved, contact Ryan Hoffman, Nearby Nature project coordinator, at