ACES Ed: A Science Classroom Without Boundaries

ACES Staff

February 17, 2014

ACES Ed: A Science Classroom Without Boundaries

Did you know that Colorado is ranked 36th in state government per capita spending on K-12 education? Add to that statistic that the U.S. has been ranked 48th out of 144 developed countries in quality of math and science education, and a troubling portrait emerges.

Given the scale of environmental problems our world faces, science literacy has never been more important. It is critical that our society be able to make the informed decisions necessary to manage an ever more complex world; where the ecosystem services human survival is dependent upon are threatened.

ACES’ core work is to build ecological literacy in our community and to spread the word about our unique model of environmental education. In a time of limited education funding, ACES works with 42 regional schools to provide programming that inspires joy for learning and lays the foundation for love of science.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of articles about ACES Ed, the in-school and field programs ACES has been offering the Roaring Fork Valley for more than 35 years. Thank you for learning about our important work!

~ Chris Lane, CEO


Aspen Center for Environmental Studies Celebrates Record Year for Education Programs
Aspen, CO, February 18, 2014 — Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), a non-profit environmental science education center, announces a record year for ACES Ed, the organization’s extensive science and environmental learning programs for pre-school through high school students. ACES Ed programs made over 48,000 student contacts in the 2012-13 school year, a 27% increase over the prior year, making 2012-13 its largest ever. ACES Ed is already on track to surpass this mark in the 2013-14 school year, teaching up to 4,600 individual students a broad spectrum of science education in the classroom and in the field, creating a passion for learning and preparing regional students to excel in science at an early age.

Since 1975, ACES has provided educational programming for regional students, adding full-time programs at both Basalt Elementary and Carbondale’s Crystal River Elementary in the past two years. While Roaring Fork Valley residents and visitors may be familiar with ACES’ naturalist programs and events, many may not be familiar with the non-profit’s educational initiatives.

“Aspen Center for Environmental Studies provides science education programs for 42 schools from Aspen to Rifle and is the backbone of science curriculum in three local elementary schools,” notes ACES’ CEO Chris Lane. “ACES Ed has fostered generations of ecologically literate citizens through hands-on exploration of the sciences and access to our outdoor environment. Our curriculum is highly integrated with that of the schools to support under-funded public programs stressed to meet increasing standards set by the state.”

More than Environmental Education
ACES Ed, a science classroom without boundaries, is a diverse approach to science education, incorporating elements of environmental ed, outdoor ed, experiential ed, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) ed, standards-based ed, placed-based ed, project-based learning, and more. In addition to these, ACES Ed programs integrate curriculum from ACES’ other areas of focus, including sustainable agriculture and forest health. ACES Ed also cultivates a sense of stewardship by nurturing each child’s curiosity and wonder about the world.

At the Forefront of the Education Movement
ACES is one of a handful of organizations in the U.S. that provides curriculum-integrated environmental science classes every day in schools. At Aspen, Basalt, and Crystal River elementary schools, whose teacher funding for science has all but disappeared due to budget cuts, ACES Educators teach environmental science in dedicated classrooms as part of each student’s weekly schedule. In addition to these in-school classes, ACES Educators teach over 350 field programs at Hallam Lake, Rock Bottom Ranch, and other Roaring Fork Valley locations.

A Model for Community-Supported Education Programs
ACES Ed offers an exemplary approach to supplementing science education in our school systems, a model that has been replicated by other organizations. ACES Ed continues to develop programming that can be modeled across the country, establishing Aspen Center for Environmental Studies as a leader among its peers.

For more information about ACES Ed, please contact Arin Trook, Education Director for ACES, at 970-925-5756 and, or click here.


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