A new experiential learning program called “Seastate” (http://seastate.ocean.washington.edu) has been established at the University of Washington (UW) to increase K20 (K12 plus higher education) computing, science, technology, engineering, and math (C+STEM) knowledge. The program’s objectives focus on student-driven design, building, and implementation of sensors to address locally relevant environmental problems. In partnership with the West Sound STEM Network and with funding from the State of Washington, the goal is to mentor K12 teachers from 18 school districts on Kitsap Peninsula, Washington, in sensor building and marine science. In addition, the UW School of Oceanography curriculum includes a hands-on Ocean Technology program (https://www.ocean.washington.edu/story/OTP_Home) that includes a multiyear class sequence and opportunities for UW students to mentor K12 teachers and students in environmental sensing, augmented with core knowledge about local marine environments directly impacting their communities. Our experience shows that coupling hands-on activities with deployment of sensors in the field is a particularly effective way to promote computational skills and environmental literacy among underrepresented minority communities.