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July 28, 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Young

EMU, American Honda Foundation partner for program to help kids understand the science of everyday items

YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University has received a grant from the American Honda Foundation, based in Torrance, Calif., that will help area school children understand the relationship between dinosaurs, computers and sneakers.

“Designed by Nature” is an innovative after-school program that will introduce 450 students to the growing field of environmental product design. Funded by an $86,000 grant, the program uses everyday objects such as T-shirts and packing peanuts as a launching point, encouraging students to explore the science of materials use and product lifecycles, design products that minimize pollution and energy use, and make a difference in the community through a service project such as a computer recycling drive.

“We want students to understand the concepts of transfer of energy, inputs and outputs, cause and effects, and renewable vs. nonrenewable resources,” said Peggy Liggit, EMU associate professor of biology and program director.

Designed by Nature will benefit students in the Ypsilanti Public Schools as well as EMU pre-service teachers. EMU science education professors will train and supervise undergraduate teaching majors to deliver the program. These new educators will gain techniques and curriculum they can utilize in their own classrooms, expanding the impact of the funding beyond the grant timeline. In addition, a workshop for practicing teachers during spring term 2007, and online dissemination will enable the program to reach hundreds of educators across the nation.

The program also will partner with graduate students from the University of Michigan in a joint MBA-environmental science program who will mentor the younger students, introducing them to careers in design, materials science and engineering.

Designed by Nature builds on a successful, federally-funded science education project developed by Liggit. (See http://www.emich.edu/wrc/wet/). She will head the program with two other science education professors, Sandra Rutherford and Bonnie Wylo.

Creative Change Educational Solutions, a local nonprofit with extensive experience providing curriculum on product lifecycles and sustainability, will collaborate with EMU throughout the program. (See www.creativechange.net). 

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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