Wednesday, April 27, 2011

STEM Education and the Environment

"STEM" seems to be the education buzzword of choice these days. STEM--Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics--is an approach to education that encourages a curriculum driven by problem-solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and requiring students to actively engage a situation in order to find its solution[1]. When most people think of STEM education and STEM careers the focus is on biotechnology, high tech, and engineering. I think it is imperative to show how environmental education can be a perfect fit in a STEM education program.

STEM Education and the Environment: An example

In San Diego, the San Diego Science Alliance has helped to bring the SeaPerch Program to more than twenty (20) teachers in the 2010-2011 school year. SeaPerch is a project based program that has students build (including wiring and soldering) an underwater remotely operated vehicle (U-ROV) in tandem with a curriculum covering concepts including buoyancy, force and motion, electricity, and engineering concepts.

After building their U-ROV's the students can make design modifications to use them to explore the environment. Students can design containers to collect water or sediment samples from waterways that are potentially polluted and unsafe for students to enter, mount a camera to the U-ROV to look at macro-organisms, add various water quality sensors to collect real-time data for different depths and locations in a body of water. While students are using U-ROV's to gather information about water, they also have a chance to explore and understand the environment surrounding the water.

The first San Diego SeaPerch Invitational was held in April at Kimball Elementary School in National City, CA. This urban elementary school is situated along Paradise Creek, a tributary of San Diego Bay that suffers from many problems common to urban waterways--litter, pollution, and invasive species. SeaPerch teams explored the water at different locations using a camera. As the program develops, there will be more opportunity to explore local waterways, collect more environmental data, share data online, and hopefully adopt some action plans to make positive changes for the environment.


The environment offers myriad opportunities for integration into STEM education programs, and has the unique feature of being tangible and available to students to ground their understanding of STEM topics in their own local reality.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Earth Week (April 10 - 16) and Earth Day (April 22)

National EE Week 2011 theme: Ocean Connections – April 10-16, 2011

Join us April 10-16, 2011 to explore our vital connection to the ocean with teachers and students nationwide.

The ocean covers nearly three quarters of our planet's surface, provides 70 percent of the oxygen in the atmosphere and houses about 20 percent of the known species on Earth. It regulates climate and weather and provides food and energy resources for humans worldwide. No matter how far from the coast, water in every stream or river eventually ends up in the ocean, and all life on Earth is dependent upon its health. More than half of all Americans live within 50 miles of the coast, but whether near or far our lives are inextricably linked to the ocean.

Recognizing the importance of protecting the health of our ocean and understanding our dependence upon it regardless of its proximity, EE Week's 2011 theme is Ocean Connections. Learn more at

Register today at to join thousands of educators and students across the country in exploring our vital connection to the ocean during National Environmental Education Week, April 10-16, 2011.

Daily Activity Planning Toolkit

Each year, EE Week provides hundreds of free resources and lesson plans on this website to help educators plan activities around an annual theme. But busy teachers don't always have the time to sift through all of these materials to identify the best activities for their classes. This year, together with our partners at the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE), EE Week brings you this planning toolkit with a suggested grade-appropriate activity on a daily sub-topic for each school day of EE Week. We are all connected to the oceans in many ways, whether we live near or far from it. These sub-topics were selected to help students better understand their many connections to the coast.

Earth Day is April 22 annually

Earth Day Network has chosen A Billion Acts of Green® as the theme for Earth Day 2011. A Billion Acts of Green®–the largest environmental service campaign in the world–inspires and rewards simple individual acts and larger organizational initiatives that further the goal of measurably reducing carbon emissions and supporting sustainability. The goal is to register one billion actions in advance of the global Earth Summit in Rio in 2012.

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. But Earth Day Network (EDN) does not stop there. 

All of EDN’s activities, whether greening schools or promoting green economic policies at home and abroad, inform and energize populations so they will act to secure a healthy future for themselves and their children. With its partner organizations, EDN provides civic engagement opportunities at the local, state, national and global levels. At every turn, EDN works to broaden the definition of "environment" to include all issues that affect our health, our communities and our environment, such as greening deteriorated schools, creating green jobs and investment, and promoting activism to stop air and water pollution.

Over the last 40 years, EDN has executed successful environmental campaigns on issues ranging climate change and drinking water to voter registration and saving the whale. EDN is a recognized leader in creating civically–oriented innovative programs with partners outside of the environmental movement to tackle new challenges

Check your regional CREEC Network newsletter to find Earth Day activities taking place in your area.

Monday, April 11, 2011

CREEC featured by Keen for Green

This past week, CREEC got together with Keen for Green, a community of green bloggers and activists. Check out the article on the Keen for Green blog!