UTA Research Team to Launch GREEN STEAM Project

Dr. Amanda Alexander, Assistant Professor of Art Education at the College of Liberal Arts, will serve as a co-principal investigator for an interdisciplinary research project titled “GREEN STEAM: Using Principles of Design to Power the Development of Outdoor Educational Spaces.” The project has been selected for funding by UTA’s Office of the President as part of its Interdisciplinary Research Program to promote collaboration at UTA across academic units.

“I’m excited to be a part of the GREEN STEAM project and work in collaboration with area schools on gardening and learning about the elements and principles of design,” said Alexander. “Elements and principles of design are universal in every walk of life especially in nature.”

Dr. David Sparks, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Education, will serve as the project’s principal investigator. Dr. David Hopman, Associate Professor and Interim Program Director of Landscape Architecture, will serve as co-principal investigator.

GREEN STEAM will provide resources for area schools to incorporate elements of design into outdoor learning labs, or green spaces, and make them sustainable learning environments on their campus.  The goal of the GREEN STEAM project is to create a research-driven network of schools in North Texas and eventually across the state.

“We will have the opportunity to help develop integrated curriculum with science and art, and also use color schemes and values, rhythm and motion, focal points, ideas about composition and organization, and developing visual texture and balance,” said Alexander. “I hope to bridge science and art so the school gardens have a strong sense of presence and inspire all children to want to participate.”

Other outcomes include an interactive website, a resource guide for schools to follow best practices when building their spaces, an annual GREEN STEAM conference which will be a coordinated effort at UTA, and published research about the effectiveness of the green spaces for encouraging student engagement in STEAM.

The project will start with local school districts with hopes of expanding to all of DFW and, eventually, the entire state of Texas. The Interdisciplinary Research Grant will provide funding for graduate assistants and expenses incurred by project staff who visit local school district green spaces.

“Project GREEN STEAM is an exemplary model for interdisciplinary research to build sustainable urban communities as outlined by UTA’s Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact, said Dr. Elisabeth Cawthon, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts.  “This multidisciplinary research starting in Arlington ISD will have a direct impact on our community’s natural, built, economic, cultural, and social environments.”
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A mini-grant seed program component will be implemented for Arlington ISD. Five schools within the district will be chosen to participate in the creation of new green spaces. The project is set to begin August 2016.

The GREEN STEAM project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the College of Education, College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Architecture Planning and Public Affairs.

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About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 “highest research activity” institution of about 55,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

For more on the Strategic Plan, see Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.

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