Student Reporting Labs’ “America the Beautiful” series captures STEM stories in National Parks

WASHINGTON DC (July 12, 2017) — PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service by spending the past year producing unique STEM 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 the face of challenges like climate change and invasive species.

Youth reporters learned to practice their craft and problem solve 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.

The Student Reporting Labs STEM initiative is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Featured Student Reporting Labs:

  • Black River Falls High School, Black River Falls, WI
  • Central Hardin High School, Cecilia, KY
  • Dalton Middle School, Dalton, GA
  • Etiwanda High School, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Health and Science School, Beaverton, Oregon
  • Hughes STEM High School, Cincinnati, OH
  • John F. Kennedy High School, Silver Spring, MD
  • Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Legacy Charter School, Greenville SC
  • Maui Waena Intermediate School, Kahului, HI
  • Media Enterprise Alliance, Oakland, CA
  • Pleasure Ridge Park High School, Louisville, KY
  • Royal Oak High School, Royal Oak, MI
  • Turtle Mountain Community High School, Belcourt, ND
  • Vista Peak Preparatory, Aurora, CO
  • Wauwatosa West High School, Milwaukee, WI

Station support for this project provided by:

Cincinnati CET Connect, Detroit Public TV, Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB),  Ideastream (WVIZ), Kentucky Education Television (KET), Maryland Public Television (MPT), Milwaukee PBS, Montana PBS, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), PBS Hawaii, PBS Southern California, Public Media for Northern California (KQED), Prairie Public, Rocky Mountain PBS, South Carolina ETV, Utah Education Network (UEN), Wisconsin Public Television

About Student Reporting Labs

Student Reporting Labs provides middle and high schools with a unique video journalism curriculum, teacher professional development, mentorship and relationships with local public media stations to produce original stories that explore how critical national issues impact communities around the country. Visit PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Major support is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award.

About PBS NewsHour                                                                                  

PBS NewsHour is seen by over four million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets, and via podcast. PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned nonprofit subsidiary of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with WNET in New York. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at On social media, visit NewsHour on Facebook or follow @NewsHour on Twitter.

Media Contacts

Leah Clapman, Managing Editor, Student Reporting Labs:

Elis Estrada, Director, Student Reporting Labs: