Civic Science: Inquiry to Action - Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation

Civic Science: Inquiry to Action

Science matters, of course it does. Science matters – in the classroom, but especially beyond the four walls. In fact, the ability to make science-driven decisions in the real world matters more than ever. The planet needs civic scientists, now.

CELF’s Civic Science: Inquiry to Action program transports teachers and students to the intersection of science and society; where environmental issues and every-day life meet face to face. Students engage with their communities as data-empowered problem solvers. They will emerge from the program as inspired change agents, with the skills and strategies to implement inquiry-based solutions in their school communities, neighborhoods and beyond. 

“You are a change maker, you are an untapped resource, you are our future and your voice is absolutely relevant, important, critical and transformative. … Share the wisdom and the data and the research that you have gathered. It is not to be contained; it is to be shared and celebrated.”

Juliet Stipeche (Former Director of Education, City of Houston) speaking to students at CELF’s May 2021 Civic Science Symposium

Environmental degradation has consequences beyond the natural world; the polluting of our air, soil, waterways, our parks and playgrounds, affects the health and welfare of many millions in this country. And biodiversity loss hurts entire ecosystems, including the human element. Environmental problems have social repercussions, affecting our rural towns as well as our cities. CELF’s Civic Science: Inquiry to Action program empowers students to apply scientific data to local concerns. As civic scientists, students will identify an environmental issue with social impact; they will collect, analyze and share their data, and they will collaborate as they  determine causes and design  solutions. Finally, students will present their findings to an audience of peers and policy makers, inspiring innovation and action. 

Through this program, students will learn to envision  and effect data-driven change in their own communities and thereby gain the skills and motivation to become educated and active global citizens.

CELF’s Civic Science: Inquiry to Action Program is now in schools in Los Angeles, Houston, New York City and schools throughout the Lower Hudson Valley area. It is offered both as a blended-learning professional learning program and a fully virtual professional learning course, all leading to an authentic Student Symposium with local decision-makers.

CELF has partnered with local institutions of health and higher education. In New York, this includes the Mount Sinai Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, Habitat Map, NYC DOE Department of Health and CUNY School of Law.

In a year when teachers and students faced unprecedented challenges, our CIVIC SCIENCE: INQUIRY to ACTION 20/21 program participants accomplished a lot!  

3000+ students, 70 teachers, in 4 states… During a worldwide pandemic, they were hard at work…

Students investigated pollution stemming from idling buses, indoor cleaning products, a local industrial park and a nearby expressway. They explored the influence of precipitation on pollution, how air quality affects wetlands, and the impact of expired air filters on a school’s indoor air. They examined issues of equity, environmental justice, how a school garden benefits a community, and much more!

Students and teachers shared their work, their ideas and their inspiration at the CELF Civic Science Symposium, May 22, 2021.


This is a fee-for-service program with grant-funded opportunities offered throughout the year.

Get in touch!

For questions and information about the program and/or costs, please contact Vicky Garufi, Director of Education:
For school districts in the Houston-area, please contact Lisa Gianukos in our Houston office to learn more:

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