America the Beautiful series captures STEM stories in National Parks

The 2016-2017 class of STEM Student Reporting Labs celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service by spending the past year producing unique stories in National Parks across the country. The result is a new video series called “America the Beautiful”.

From citizen bat research in Kentucky caves, to a pygmy mammoth discovery in the Channel Islands of California, to the mysteries of the ancient Hopewell earth mounds in Ohio, the stories combine journalism and the scientific method to explore the natural environment. Many of the videos demonstrate how scientists today are working to preserve the American landscape and wildlife in theface of challenges like climate change and invasive species.

Youth reporters learned to practice their craft and problemsolve while battling obstacles like wind, rain and mosquitoes in the great outdoors.“Getting our students out into nature to tell their stories really resonated with our reporters, some of whom have never had the opportunity to visit a National Park,” says William Swift, STEM Coordinating Producer.

A survey of participating STEM reporting labs concluded that SRL’s original curriculum and program has helped students develop essential STEM and media literacy skills like researching, fact-checking, and writing. “I found that going out to the national park was incredible and worth all of the work following the gathering of information,” said one student.  “It was a great experience that I can use in other aspects of my life to learn from.”

On July 4th, PBS NewsHour aired Etiwanda High School’s story on pygmy mammoth skulls on Channel Islands National Park.

Visit Student Reporting Labs on YouTube for closed captioning.