Green Energy Technologies Collaboration with Boys and Girls Club of Lansing Receives Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award

  • Angela Calabrese Barton, Ph.D.
  • Professor
  • Department of Teacher Education
  • College of Education
From left to right: Angela Calabrese Barton; Carmen Y. Turner

Angela Calabrese Barton, professor in the College of Education, and the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing, led by president Carmen Turner, were named co-recipients of the Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award during the annual MSU Awards Convocation on Tuesday, February 14, 2012.

Calabrese Barton and Turner, representing the community partner, were recognized for "GET City" (Green Energy Technologies in the City), a collaboration that engages at-risk youth in science, technology, engineering and math, and encourages them to become community science experts who can bring about change by linking green energy technology with local environmental health, responsibility, and practice.

"I realized that I can get things done, and make a difference."

Chris, senior class
Lansing Everett High School and GET City participant since 2007

Calabrese Barton and her husband, Scott Calabrese Barton, a professor in the College of Engineering, work with Turner to offer year-round program opportunities in advanced science and engineering for middle school and high school youth with an interest in science, engineering and IT career awareness and college preparation.

"We designed the program to link out-of-school science investigations with in-school activities," says Calabrese Barton. "We have discovered new insights into how and why youth engage meaningfully in community-based science, and how they develop science and engineering identities."

The Boys and Girls Club of Lansing has been the primary partner with Calabrese Barton since 2007.

"The GET City program gives our children the opportunity to strategically think beyond what they thought was possible. Dr. Calabrese Barton and her staff set high expectations for the kids, which they meet and most often surpass. They understand how to apply what they learn in GET City into making better decisions about life. That's what learning is really about," says Turner.

Green Ambassadors

GET City Partners and Funders

  • Boys and Girls Club of Lansing
  • Lansing Community College Alternative Energy Center
  • Lansing Public Schools Energy Office
  • Michigan Energy Options
  • Lansing Board of Water and Light
  • Granger
  • Lansing Mayor's Office
  • Capital Region Community Foundation
  • Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council
  • Society of Black Engineers at Michigan State University
  • TechSmith
  • Information Technology Empowerment Center of Lansing
  • MSU College of Education
  • MSU College of Engineering
  • National Science Foundation
  • Dart Foundation
  • Capital Region Community Foundation
  • Auto Owners Insurance
  • MSU Federal Credit Union

Students who are attending the GET City program in advanced science and engineering present their work to their peers in class and at school-wide workshops during special events such as Earth Day. There are opportunities for GET City students to attend summer residential engineering programs, mentor other students, and participate in career awareness and college preparation offerings. More than 120 youth, ages 10-14 years old, from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds have participated in GET City since the partnership with Boys and Girls Club of Lansing began in 2007.

Moving from New York City to work at Michigan State University in 2006, Calabrese Barton knew she wanted to get involved with the community. She began visiting different organizations, and found that Carmen Turner and the Boys and Girls Club of Lansing had created an atmosphere that encouraged learning with actionable outcomes.

"Carmen is very forward thinking," says Calabrese Barton. "We wanted to educate about green energy technologies, but also create an environment where the youth can feel like they have the ability to change things for the better. The impact factors and their sense of identity as involved citizens are very important to all of us involved."

Experienced GET City students can become "Green Ambassadors", charged with working with school leaders and teachers to help schools meet the new challenge of going green. One such effort led to changing incandescent light bulbs in Pleasant View Magnet School in Lansing to more energy efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). Students conducted research, made movies that illustrated the research findings, designed experiments, and produced raps to educate teachers and fellow students about the changes.

One of the students involved with GET City wrote to support the nomination for the Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award: "I am a senior at Everett High School… I joined GET CITY in 2007 and have stayed in it ever since. Last year I was an instructor.... I think my most memorable experience was presenting our research findings to the mayor when I was just an 8th grader...I guess I have realized that I can get things done, and make a difference."

Awards and Achievements

The MSU Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award is the latest addition to an impressive list of GET City achievements, awards and recognition, including a Partnership Award from the Lansing City Mayor's Office, an Outstanding Youth Programming Commendation from Governor Jennifer Granholm, and the 2008 Technology Program of the Year for the Midwest Regional Council of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Students have made presentations to the Southside Community Center, Pleasant View Student Council, Lansing Mayor's Office and the Michigan House of Representatives. In addition, GET City youth have won statewide competitions for green education videos, as well as scholarships for further academic endeavors.

The project has influenced doctoral students, and Calabrese Barton is now working with two of them on piloting a scale-up version of GET City in Greensboro, North Carolina and Honolulu, Hawaii.

One study focuses on place-base research, exploring how GET City is adopted and adapted within new cultural contexts. Another component explores critical race theory around science, and addresses the young people's identity as community science experts who can bring about change.

"What stands out most to me about the GET City project is the stance they take on ‘educated action', knowing not only how to green the world, but learning the science behind it," says Ruth Daoust, manager of the MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center.

MSU's Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award is conferred annually and provides University-wide recognition of highly engaged community-based research collaborations that positively impact both the community and the scholarship of MSU faculty work.

Learn more about current and past recipients of the Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award. For more details about the GET City project view their website at Green Energy Technology in the City.

  • Written by Carla Hills, University Outreach and Engagement
  • Photograph by Derrick Turner, MSU University Relations

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