Plan sustainability activities with middle and high school students to encourage efficient, eco-friendly innovation while boosting engagement.
Teaching students to respect the environment is an excellent way to explore careers in ecology and sustainability, but teachers should be taking additional steps beyond showing children how to protect the Earth. Once students understand how pollution, deforestation, and other threats caused by humans can impact nature, they can begin to develop solutions to these problems through sustainability activities.
1. Sustainable School Redesign
There is a movement toward greener schools as parents, teachers, and administrators seek to improve the learning experience for children while providing a safe environment. Ask students to think of ways their schools can become more eco-friendly. Students should list sustainable measures that can be implemented in order to promote more environmental conscientiousness while they learn. These can include using solar energy sources, more efficient heating and cooling systems, and reusable or recycled supplies. This is simply a project for children of all grades to begin thinking about their roles in environmental protection, therefore the price tag should not be an object while they brainstorm during these sustainability activities.
2. Shedding Light on Sustainability
Before solar-power solutions can be utilized, STEM professionals must calculate how much energy is used in a certain area. TeachEngineering provides an important lesson that shows students how to work with solar-energy maps and algebra concepts to estimate the amount of solar power necessary to generate energy. Educators can use this single solar-energy estimation project to branch out into other sustainability activities, as the lesson outline provides information regarding climate change, fossil fuels, and vocabulary that is relevant to the study of these environmental issues for high school students.
3. Something Fishy in the Classroom
One of the most crucial areas of environmental protection lies in maintaining the quality of the world’s oceans through beach cleanup, reversing the effects of water pollution, and finding sustainable sources of fish. Through the TROUT in the Classroom project, students of all grades will use biology and ecology concepts to care for trout eggs as they mature and eventually hatch into fry. Teachers will then organize the final phase of the project that allows children to release trout into a state-approved body of water. Through completing the sustainability activities involved in this project children will become more conscientious regarding conservation, responsible fishing, and clean water while developing consideration toward other living creatures.
4. Gas Up the Class
The consumption of fuel in the United States is another major environmental concern that STEM professionals are attempting to address through more efficient, cleaner alternatives. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory offers steps for teachers of middle-school students to show children how to generate biogas from biomass, which is manure in this case. Discussion questions are also included to engage students and ensure they understand the chemical processes through which biogas was produced. In this sustainability activity, students will learn the simplicity of creating alternate fuel resources from trash, which kills two environmental issues – fuel consumption and waste management – with one STEM stone.
5. The Carbon Footprint of the Student Body
One of the more detailed sustainability activities, mapping a student’s carbon footprint, requires each student to bring household financial records such as energy bills, insurance information, and pharmaceutical spending estimates to class. This project is perfect for high-school students, especially seniors who will legally be entering adulthood next year, as they will develop a genuine sense of environmental responsibility and be more likely to take ownership over their choices. Work together using statistics and algebra to develop solutions regarding how students can reduce their carbon footprints over the course of the year.
Altering human behavior to ensure environmental protection is an urgent matter, therefore the need for passionate engineers, scientists, and other ecology-focused STEM professionals will increase. Use sustainability activities to teach students about some of the industries that will rely heavily on professionals who are prepared to innovate and promote a healthy planet.