Developing a Strategic Plan for an Experiential Environmental Education Program in Piñones, Puerto Rico

Sponsoring organizations: LimPiaR

Team members: Emily Doucette (Mechanical Engineering ’23), Nathaniel Gamboa (Applied Physics ’23), Samuel Boudreau (Mechanical Engineering ’23)

Advisors: Prof. Alex Sphar and Prof. Brigitte Servatius


Jami Claypoole, the founder of LimPiaR, believes that people “cannot care about things which they know nothing about.” This idea has led LimPiaR to create an environmental education program in Piñones, Puerto Rico. As of May 2022, LimPiaR has been educating children at COPI, however, they have been doing this without a developed curriculum. Our goal was to help LimPiaR outline an environmental education curriculum for children in the Piñones community as well as find new settings where the curriculum can be implemented. To accomplish this, we developed main topics and macro-objectives that outline a curriculum, three interactive lesson plans, and identified P.A.Y.E as an organization that could implement LimPiaR’s curriculum.

IQP Final Report

IQP Final Presentation

IQP Supplemental Material

Executive Summary


Piñones is a small neighborhood consisting of approximately 2,000 people. It is located on the northeast side of the island in the municipality of Loíza. Our team has partnered with the non-profit organization, LimPiaR. LimPiaR believes that educating the youth on their local ecosystems leads the children and future generations to make environmentally conscious decisions. As of May 2022, LimPiaR has been educating children at COPI, however, they have been doing this without a developed curriculum. Our goal was to help them outline an environmental education curriculum for children in the Piñones community as well as find new settings where the curriculum can be implemented. We focused on incorporating topics into the lessons that directly relate to the children’s environmental surroundings, developing these lessons to be interactive, and finding new places where LimPiaR can implement the curriculum. To accomplish this, we understood the mission of LimPiaR and each team members role, understood the community’s perspective on environmental education, and adapted lessons from organizations with environmental education programs to connect with the Piñones ecosystems.



         COPI is a cultural center located in Piñones. On Saturdays COPI provides drumming classes, bomba lessons, and activities related to the environment for children to participate in. Our team spent two Saturdays at COPI observing these activities. We found that with all the distractions from the drumming and bomba classes, it was difficult for the children to stay engaged in the environmental activities for extended periods of time.



P.A.Y.E. is a community project that operates out of the abandoned school of Emiliano Figueroa Torres. P.A.Y.E offers an after-school program through the academic year and a three-week summer program starting in June. After interviewing Tanisha Gaspar, the Foundress of P.A.Y.E, we determined that LimPiaR would benefit from the structured setting of P.A.Y.E. The setting would have less distractions and allow for the students to focus on the topics being taught to them.


Curriculum Outline

         Through researching environmental organizations and discussions with LimPiaR, our team developed an outline for an environmental education curriculum. The curriculum is broken down into six main topics: ecology, diversity and interdependence, water, soil and food, solid waste management, and climate change. Each topic has a correlating macro-objective description from which 2-3 lesson plans can be developed to create a curriculum. Our team developed three lesson plans as examples for LimPiaR to follow.


Scavenger Hunt

         The scavenger hunt lesson was adapted from the Cornell Waste Management Institute to fit under the topic of ecology (Cornell Waste Management Institute 1991). The lesson was designed to have students look for living and nonliving things around COPI and to discuss their differences. We found that this was an unsuccessful lesson for the COPI setting due to several distractions and the lesson not being eye-catching. We determined that this lesson would be better suited in a more structured setting such as P.A.Y.E.


How Trash Travels

         The How Trash Travel Infographic and lesson plan was adapted from the Ocean Conservancy to fit under the topic of solid waste management (Ocean Conservancy 2017). The infographic displays the consequences humans can create on their local ecosystems through improper waste disposal. Through utilizing textures, colors, and action figures, the children stayed engaged and participated throughout the lesson.

Cycle of Organic Matter

         The Cycle of Organic Matter infographic and lesson plan was adapted from Sitopia to fit under the topic of solid waste management (Sitopia 2020). The interactive infographic describes the composting process through figures and is designed to be taught alongside a composting bucket. The infographic allows for the figures to be shuffled so that students must put the process back into the correct order by memory. Through the utilization of colors and a memory game the students stayed engaged throughout the lesson.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Based on the information we have collected, our team determined that LimPiaR’s plans for an environmental education program would be better suited to a more structured setting than COPI. To grow LimPiaR’s program, they need to have a developed curriculum which can be implemented into other organizations. This will allow LimPiaR to continue spreading environmental awareness throughout Puerto Rico.


In addition to this conclusion, we recommend the following ideas to LimPiaR:

  • We recommend that LimPiaR continues developing interactive lessons for each macro-objective.
  • We recommend LimPiaR adapts their curriculum to be implemented at the P.A.Y.E after-school program at the abandoned Emiliano Figueroa Torres school.
  • We recommend LimPiaR develops a way to evaluate the students’ understanding of each lesson.
  • We recommend that LimPiaR develops a pamphlet or PowerPoint that defines their mission and outlines the macro-objectives that were developed.
  • We recommend LimPiaR updates their website with current projects and media.