News & Collaborations


Toledo Zoo hosts student research symposium

Detroit students take water sample from Toledo Zoo

Learning outside a classroom is better than doing it inside one, elementary students have told a local educator.

Through Project Prairie, youngsters have learned different things about plant life, like its diversity as well as native pollinators. The Toledo Zoo program works with schools and their districts to have students install and study native prairie habitats.

“When I walked around and I talked to the kids, … I asked, ‘So what’s better, classroom learning or what you did with your research in the field?’” said Jodi Haney, owner of XCite Learning in Maumee. “Every single one of them got big smiles on their faces and said, ‘What we did in the field.’ And I asked, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘It’s hands-on, we learn more, and we’re helping the community.’”



The GLOBE Student Research Symposia: Engaging Youth Around the Country in an Environmental Research Community

GLOBE Student Research Symposia group

Youth in today’s world are experiencing the effects of climate change, decreasing biodiversity, urban heat islands, wildfires, low air quality, water shortages, and other environmental problems. They may feel helpless to respond to such large-scale challenges. Yet equipped with the right tools and supported by a scientific community, they can be empowered to take part in developing solutions.


First Vermont Student Attends National Invention Convention Competition, August 2023

The Northern New England Invention Convention recently sent the first student representing the state of Vermont to Invention Convention U.S. Nationals at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Whitaker Newton, a rising second-grade student at Vermont Day School, competed with over 330 students from across the United States. Whitaker’s participation in the national competition represents growth in the invention education ecosystem that is happening across the country, and, particularly, in Vermont, which will host its inaugural Invention Convention Fair in February 2024.

Whitaker Newton


You can read more about Whitaker's participation here.

Congratulations to our Northern New England Young Inventors winners and finalists!

Over 40 young inventors represented Northern New England at the Henry Ford in Dearborn, MI at the 2023 National Invention Convention. We are so proud of all of the inventors, and are excited to announce our two winners. Congratulations to Everly, 1st grader from Hooksett, for winning 2nd place with her invention The Calming Buddy, and to Ria, 10th grader from Holliston, for winning 3rd place with her invention G-Dog.

NNE finalists


Cheryl Lavoie - Leitzel Center Award for STEM Education Research at the GRC, April 2023


Steve presents Cheryl with the Leitzel Center Award

The Leitzel Center Award for STEM Education Research at the Graduate Research Conference (April, 2023) goes to Cheryl Lavoie. Her research demonstrated that UNH organic chemistry students gained understanding and confidence in their evaluation of organic molecules in terms of their non-polarity or polarity based on training to interpret various models of molecular structure. She is pictured with Steve Hale, Project Director and Leitzel Award Leader.


Don Wason + John Tietjen - Best Posters - URC, April 2023

The Leitzel Center is excited to present Don Wason and John Tietjen for their poster presentations at the Undergraduate Research Conference (April 2023). 

UNH Today - Michael Morris inspires young inventors - April 2023

Michael Morris, co-founder and CEO of Torc, was featured in UNH Today as an advocate of software development. He volunteers his time to inspire young STEM students to dream big  and serves on the board of directors for the Young Inventors' Program. Read the full article here.

UNH Today - Building Equity Leadership Skills - March 2023

“We have a lot of students who struggle with access to materials because of their socioeconomic status and they also might be experiencing a social-emotional gap. Now there is the added challenge of getting out of the pandemic — the COVID gap,” says Valerie Morneault, who teaches life sciences at Spaulding High School in Rochester.

To build her leadership skills and better understand equity pedagogies for STEM instruction, Morneault applied for and was awarded a fellowship through the five-year Building Equity Leaders for STEM (BELS) in NH program.

Read the full article here.


Portsmouth Herald article: Grants for robotics teams, Soil Tent Program: Seacoast education news - January 2022


Students measure soil

Elementary students explore with the Soil Tent Program

MADBURY — Students from Moharimet Elementary School (Madbury) and Mast Way Elementary School (Lee) got outside in the fall to explore soils with the Soil Tent Program.

The Soil Tent is a traveling STEAM educational exhibit that combines hands-on GLOBE science activities centered around the pedosphere and a 10x10 pop-up tent with murals depicting students’ observations of their local soil ecosystems. The tent was developed by the NH GLOBE Program, the USDA Forest Service, and the Northern Arts Alliance.

Read the full article here.


Jordan Bader - Best Oral Presentation at the GRC, April 2021

Jordan Bader received the Leitzel Award for best oral presentation in STEM Education Research at the Graduate Research Conference in April, 2021. Her presentation is titled "The Decision is in the Details: Justifying decisions about socioscientific issues". Jordan's faculty mentor was Melissa Aikens, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture.
Congratulations, Jordan!

Mike Routhier - Best Poster in STEM Education at the GRC, April 2021

The Leitzel Center Award for Best Poster in STEM Education Research at the Graduate Research Conference (April, 2021) goes to Mike Routhier for his poster titled "Testing Geospatial Technology Learning Tools in the Classroom for Inspiring the Learning of Environmental Science". His faculty mentor was Gregg Moore, Research Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture.
Congratulations, Mike!

Celebrating Women Ocean Mappers and Their Stories

The Leitzel Center collaborated with the UNH Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping to celebrate International Girls and Women in Science Day on Thursday, February 11, 2021. The online panel discussion included Josie James, the Portsmouth-based author of 2021’s “Best STEM Book”— Marie’s Ocean —and two UNH-based scientists who have mapped and explored the oceans: Florencia Fahnestock, Research Scientist, UNH Earth Sciences and Elizabeth Weidner, Phd.D. Candidate in oceanography, UNH Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping.

YIP Joins UNH Leitzel Center

YIP student

The Young Inventors’ Program (YIP) and the University of New Hampshire are excited to announce a new collaboration that will increase resources and strengthen opportunities for K-12 students in the subject areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). A 35-year-old, project-based STEM education program, YIP began at the Academy of Applied Science in Concord as a vision and passion of founder Dr. Robert H. Rines, an inventor, entrepreneur and attorney. YIP was developed to encourage students in early grades to explore STEM principles and apply their learning to real-world problems. It has evolved to meet education standards, including the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), while reinforcing 21st century skills including decision-making, problem-solving and communications. By joining the state’s flagship research university (categorized as R1 by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education), YIP will benefit from the direct-service STEM programs for K-12 students housed at UNH’s Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education.


UNH Receives $3.6 Million To Examine Climate Change Effect on Ecosystems

DURHAM, N.H.— The University of New Hampshire is one of 14 universities from around the globe that have collectively been awarded $12.5 million by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to launch a new Biology Integration Institute (BII), called EMERGE. UNH will receive $3.6 million and will collaborate with the other universities to focus on better understanding ecosystem and climate interactions—like the thawing of the Arctic permafrost—and how they can alter everything from the landscape to greenhouse gases. EMERGE, which stands for “EMergent Ecosystem Response to ChanGE,” is an ambitious five-year project that will concentrate on discovering how the processes that sustain life and enable biological innovation operate and interact within and between each other—from molecules to cells, species and ecosystems—under dynamically changing conditions. The end result will be a new “genes-to-ecosystems-to-genes” framework to create models that could help predict ecosystem response to change.

Improving STEM Education

With major NSF grant, UNH supports NH teachers

Wednesday, July 22, 2020: UNH Today
A major National Science Foundation grant to UNH aims to improve science and mathematics education for middle and high school students in Manchester, Nashua and Rochester schools. The five-year grant will support 15 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers to build their leadership skills, equity pedagogies and STEM content knowledge and instruction.

“It’s never been more important for all New Hampshire students to have access to high-quality STEM education,” says principal investigator Lara Gengarelly, UNH Extension specialist and affiliate associate professor for science education in UNH’s Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education. “Given the shifts in the K-12 science education landscape in the U.S., the performance disparities in STEM subjects across different populations of students and the changing demographics and pockets of poverty in New Hampshire school districts, supporting teachers as leaders in STEM and equity education is essential work that UNH is well-suited to lead.”

“Supporting teachers as leaders in STEM and equity education is essential work that UNH is well-suited to lead.”

The $1.49 million grant will fund a program called Building Equity Leaders for STEM in New Hampshire (BELS in NH) that engages partners from Manchester, Nashua and Rochester school districts as well as two professional organizations, NH Teachers of Mathematics and NH Science Teachers Association, that serve K-12 teachers in the state. Lessons learned from this project can then be applied regionally and nationally.

BELS will recruit and work with STEM teachers in grades six through 10 to participate in a master teacher fellowship program over five years. In addition to deepening their STEM content knowledge and pedagogies, fellows will engage in equity and justice-focused training that aims to enhance their capacity to design STEM learning experiences that are community-responsive, relevant and authentic. The Manchester, Nashua and Rochester school districts represent some of the largest and most demographically diverse and dynamic school districts in the Granite State.

Read the full article



Connecting Through GLOBE

A video from the U.S. GLOBE Office, located at the Leitzel Center at UNH, about high school students connecting through science will be featured in the 2020 STEM for All Video Showcase, held online May 5 – 12, 2020.

The video, “Students connect through science at GLOBE Symposia,” follows students and their teachers as they attend the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional GLOBE Student Research Symposia (SRS) in Boston in spring 2019. Participants describe how the event reaches diverse audiences, their ability to connect students from different demogr aphics and how participation in the symposia has shown to increase student self-efficacy in the science practices.


What's Working: Finding tomorrow's workers in kindergarten?

Union Leader article by Michael Cousineau

MANCHESTER — It’s never too early.

This includes reaching out to kids in kindergarten through second grade to create the earliest of worker pipelines.

“That’s when they’re deciding what to be when they grow up,” said Barbara Hopkins, who’s working on one of several pilot projects that the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute/BioFabUSA is funding.

Hopkins, as part of the effort by the University of New Hampshire’s Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education, is producing “unit lessons” for teachers to use as soon as this fall to get kids interested in the life sciences and eventually pursuing a career.

The aim is to get kids from K-12 involved — and become a model for other states.

Read the full article

Provost Jones Announces Leitzel Center Interim Director

Julie Bryce, professor of geochemistry, has agreed to serve as interim director of the Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education for the 2019-20 academic year. Julie brings a dedication to working with K-12 teachers, decades of experience mentoring earlier career scientists and leadership experience in numerous projects from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey and private foundations to direct scientific research projects, build capacity and engage with the K-12 community.

A member of the Earth sciences department for 16 years, she served as chair for two terms and was a member of the executive committee for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. This past year she served as a faculty fellow in the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Engagement and Faculty Development, where she was co-chair of the university’s Research and Engagement Academy.

Professor Bryce will direct the center through its next year and foster its integration into its new home under the Office of Outreach and Engagement within the UNH Research Office; Leitzel Center Director Ruth Varner is taking a year of sabbatical leave (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020).

Please join me in congratulating Julie on her new role.


Wayne Jones
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Cheryl Lavoie - Best Poster in STEM Education at the GRC, April 2019

Cheryl Chris and Ruth with award

The Leitzel Center Award for Best Poster in STEM Education Research at the Graduate Research Conference (April, 2019) goes to Cheryl Lavoie, “Polar or non-polar: Student decision-making when offered sequential or simultaneous exemplars with and without electrostatic potential maps”. She is pictured with her faculty advisor, Chris Bauer, Professor, UNH Chemistry and Ruth Varner, Director of the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education.

Dalton Marsh received the Leitzel Award for best oral presentation

Sheree Dalton and Ruth

Dalton Marsh received the Leitzel Award for best oral presentation in STEM Education Research at the Graduate Research Conference at the Whittemore Center in April, 2019. The presentations in the Leitzel Award competition were all extremely relevant and very high quality in the area of K-12 STEM education. He is pictured with his faculty advisor, Sheree Sharpe, Assistant Professor, UNH Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Ruth Varner, Director of the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science and Engineering Education.

Hands-on learning for citizen scientists through Schoolyard SITES

Students in multiple Rochester schools have taken on the roles of citizen scientists, thanks to a partnership with the University of New Hampshire’s Cooperative Extension and the Leitzel Center.

Through its collaboration with UNH’s Schoolyard Science Investigations by Teachers, Extension Volunteers and Students (Schoolyard SITES), students at five schools are exploring a variety of scientific areas through hands on research and experimentation.

Schoolyard SITES is a UNH research study that investigates a new professional development model for elementary school teachers, while giving students opportunities to explore science on a deeper and more engaging level. With support from the UNH Cooperative Extension science volunteers, teachers develop science investigations that incorporate student learning goals and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Are you ready to integrate science practices into your teaching?

Dive In! Cover

How can you create opportunities for student-directed investigations in your learning setting? Have you ever considered partnering with a scientist to add depth to your lessons?

These are some of the central questions of the new book "Dive In! Immersion in Science Practices for High School Students" by Karen J. Graham, Lara M. Gengarelly, Barbara A. Hopkins and Melissa A. Lombard.

“Dive In!” explains the important ways in which science instruction is evolving.


Ruth Varner Receives Faculty Excellence Award