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Partnerships enhance Disney's Planet Challenge

UL leads hands-on classroom learning

It's OK to read a textbook that discusses someone else's discovery. But it's so much better to work side-by-side with a scientist who helps you make your own. That's the theory behind the partnership between Disney and Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which places its professionals in classrooms all across the country.

"Now more than ever children have the wonderful opportunity to learn both in and out of the classroom," said Barbara Guthrie, vice president of Consumer Affairs for Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. "Project-based learning is a wonderful example. We believe mentoring brings this to yet another level to benefit and engage the students even more. " UL employees work with students on science, technology, engineering and math projects sharing their real-world experiences.

"With a technical employee base of thousands located around the globe, UL felt we could bring subject matter expertise, project management assistance, engineering knowhow, even hands-on experiences—whether real or virtual—into the classrooms," Guthrie explained.

This is not the first time the two companies have joined forces, though in the past the partnership focused more on safety. UL helped develop safety DVDs and contributed to Radio Disney and the Test the Limits attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida. More recently, UL and Disney launched Safety Smart.

"UL knows that testing, certification and standards alone cannot address all aspects of safety, so UL reached out to Disney to partner in a youth safety education initiative that aimed to empower, engage and educate young people in taking responsibility for themselves and their surroundings by conscious actions, not chance," Guthrie said.

In addition to providing mentors to DPC classes, UL serves on the Disney Planet Challenge Advisory Council and helps develop the middle school program.

NSTA supports Disney program

It's only natural for the National Science Teachers Association to partner with Disney's Planet Challenge.

The nonprofit NSTA's mission is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning. Disney Planet Challenge's mission is to teach kids about science and conservation while empowering them to make a positive impact on their communities and planet. Together, they are providing teachers with a great tool to teach science and motivating students to think critically and act responsibly toward the environment.

"Disney's Planet Challenge is truly a wonderful program," said Dr. Francis Eberle, NSTA executive director. "It instills an appreciation for important environmental challenges and helps students master critical-thinking skills that will prepare them to evaluate issues and make informed decisions regarding stewardship of the planet."