Urban Green Lab’s Mobile Science Lab Launches in Metro Schools


Stratford High School freshman Charlie Utley walks to school, bikes to church, and recycles - he takes his impact on the environment seriously. "It's everyone thinking about their contribution that matters. What you do matters and it adds up over time," Utley said.

He's one of the students involved with Nashville's first sustainability laboratory that launched Tuesday, Feb. 16, bringing mobile field trips that will enhance science and technology curricula within Metro Schools, thanks to Urban Green Lab. The project is funded by the generous support of 23 sponsors, a two-year, $91,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Education grant, and Founding Partner Nissan North America. The lab is expected to reach more than a 1,000 students by fall 2017.

Click here to see a video of the ribbon cutting or watch it below:

The mobile lab explores five important topics in sustainability: energy, water, green building, food and agriculture, as well as sustainable transportation, challenging students to make everyday choices that save money, resources, and improve their quality of life.

"This is a big day for us and a step forward in making Nashville a greener and more sustainable city," said Urban Green Lab Executive Director Jennifer Westerholm.

"What we are seeing here today is the next big step of a bold vision … a vision that takes a message of sustainability and conservation out into the community, where our next generation can learn how to live in - in a way that will benefit the world around them," said Ken Srebnik, Nissan North America Senior Manager of Corporate Strategy.

Nineteen schools have signed up for mobile green lab visits so far, Urban Green Lab said.

To sign up for a mobile lab, click here.

Download the one-pager about the Urban Green Lab Mobile Lab here.

The Urban Green Lab Mobile Lab represents STEM education that is purposeful and well done, said Kristopher Elliott, Director of STEM at Metro Schools.

"It gets students out of the classroom and gives them experience with STEM lab facilities beyond the school. This is a unique and rare opportunity for Nashville. Anytime we can get students to understand the connection between science and their life - where their food comes from for instance - it helps solidify the impact of science," Elliott said.

"The aspect of interactive, hands-on learning is the most important and helps students learn better than anything else and complements their science lessons. It really drives the lesson home," said Catherine Walker, Urban Green Lab's staff educator.

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Overlooking an exhibit in the lab that examines electricity production in Tennessee, students explain why being aware of where our energy comes from matters. "Half of all our energy in Tennessee is made by coal," Stratford High School sophomore Maxie Ball said. "This affects our city and how much pollution is produced," chimed in Leslie Deleon, also a sophomore at Stratford. Both students were involved with the lab's design and content. "It's cool to see that schools will be able to go inside and learning something; that all of the hard work paid off," Deleon said.

"Creating a more sustainable Nashville, and ensuring that all of our students have access to a world class education are top priorities for Mayor Barry’s administration. One of the things that makes education in Nashville so unique is that we have community partners that work with our schools to make connections between what students are learning in the classroom and the real world, and to give them the tools they need to compete in our thriving economy," said Laura Moore, the Mayor's Office education liaison.

"That is why we are so excited for today’s launch of Urban Green Lab’s Mobile Lab. You all exemplify the kind of partnerships between nonprofit, business, and education that we need to enhance the STEM educational experience for our middle and high school students and your focus on raising awareness about sustainability and challenging our students to make choices that improve their quality of life and the quality of life of our county will help make them better citizens," Moore said.

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Nissan donated a brand new, 2016 Nissan Titan diesel truck to pull the mobile green lab.

"When Nissan stepped up to be a founding partner of Urban Green Lab, our leadership saw it as an honor, not a gift. Honestly, the gift was ours. For Nissan, having the unique opportunity Urban Green Lab offered us to connect with our community was a perfect match with our corporate mission of 'Enriching Peoples’ Lives,'" Srebnik said. "What could be a more fitting way to be a good neighbor in our hometown than to invest long-term in its sustainable future? To that end, Nissan has provided nearly $500,000 in support since 2011. Being a part of Urban Green Lab from the outset and watching the dream come to fruition has been an inspiration to us."

View photos from Urban Green Lab's Mobile Lab launch below: