We at the National Environmental Education Foundation appreciate the opportunity the Environmental Protection Agency is providing to share with its national audience the wealth of resources available through our organization and our partners to strengthen environmental knowledge, both inside and outside of the classroom. Thank you, Karen, for inviting us join you today as part of celebrating National Environmental Education Week and Earth Day. A little background and history of our organization:The National Environmental Education Foundation, or NEEF, was chartered by Congress in 1990 to advance environmental knowledge among the American public. The National Environmental Education Act of 1990 established the National Environmental Education Foundation as a complementary organization to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), extending its ability to foster environmental knowledge in all segments of the American public as well as leveraging private funds that EPA, as a federal agency, cannot access.
NEEF’s strategy is to reach the public through a powerful network of trusted professionals who can help Americans make everyday, informed choices for a healthy life and healthy environment.
Because there is a natural link between the weather and the environment, broadcast meterologists are uniquely poised to educate the public about key environmental topics in their communities. Earth Gauge is helping broadcast meteorologists broaden the scope of the weather forecast byWorking with the American Meteorological Society to change the role of meteorologists to station scientists who can cover a range of science and environmental topics for their stationsProviding a free, weekly e-newsletter linking the local 3 day forecast and environmental impacts andProviding free online educational materials for broadcast meteorologists to broaden their expertise in the environmental sciencesCurrently Earth Gauge is distributed in 118 media markets around the u.s. to over 215 meteorologists and reaching more than 230 million television viewers.
Our children suffer from a variety of chronic health conditions such as obesity and asthma. Research indicates that unstructured outdoor activities may improve children’s health by increasing physical activity, reducing stress, and serving as a support mechanism for attention disorders.NEEF is educating pediatric health care providers about prescribing outdoor activities to children and connecting helath care providers with local nature sites so that they can refer families to safe and easily accessible outdoor areas. Health care providers can then refer families to parks or nature centers in their communities where NEEF’s partners (such as the National Audubon Society, National Park Service, and others) provide active nature programming.
We employ a number of strategies to support the integration of environmental learning into schools around the country. These strategies include national awards to recognize exemplary teaching on the environment, support in the way of grants to teachers for professional development opportunities and grants to students to support environmental projects and internships, online resources for educators, and the incubation through demonstration projects of new models of k12 environmental learning.
The National Environmental Education Foundation, in partnership with The Weather Channel, launched Classroom Earth in 2009, as a program designed to enhance and strengthen environmental education highschool classrooms nationwide. By harnessing the expertise and passion of teachers and students around the country, Classroom Earth is designed to enrich the curriculum by encouraging the inclusion of environmental education into all subjects - from biology to art - and make it easier for teachers to access best practices online. The primary goal of the program is to increase the environmental literacy of students and to provide models for including environmental education in classrooms through the Web. By becoming a member of Classroom Earth you become part of a nationwide community of high school educators teaching about the environment. Note: Beginning this summer, Classroom Earth will shift to become a K12 site.
Advancing STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering & Math – education is a national priority. In order to prepare students for life in the 21st Century, it is important to consider the pressing issues that leaders and citizens will face and the ways that STEM are likely to contribute solutions. Due to the challenges of climate change and the resource demands of an ever-growing population, in some respect, all jobs will be green jobs. Young people are highly concerned about the environment. The interest coincides with growth in jobs for such careers as environmental engineers. Even students in non-environmental degree programs are increasingly seeking environmental content relevant to their career path and selecting environmental minors. While young people are concerned about the environment, however, they feel increasingly disconnected from it. Hands-on environmental education projects enrich STEM learning and offer an exciting opportunity to engage more students in STEM. Environmental learning leads to more enthusiastic learners and boosts critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills. When presented with opportunities to learn in an environmental context, students are more likely to choose STEM fields as careers. In 2012, NEEF kicked-off a multi-year focus on Greening STEM through which we highlight the connections between the environment and STEM and the learning opportunities for teachers and students.
Hosted by NEEF, National Environmental Education Week, or EE Week for short, is the nation's largest celebration of environmental education held each year the week before Earth Day and inspires environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. We reach educators across the United States with resources for teaching about the environment.Last year, we kicked off our Greening STEM initiative with the theme, Greening STEM: The Environment as Inspiration for 21st Century Learning. This year, as part of our Greening STEM initiative, the EE Week theme is Greening STEM: Taking Technology Outdoors. We’ll highlight the unique new role that technology can play as a bridge to engaging students in meaningful and hands-on STEM learning outdoors. By meeting them where they are in terms of interest, comfort and ease of use, tech tools like smartphones can help young people “plug into nature” by empowering them to observe and document the world around them. Our Top 10 Apps for Taking Technology Outdoors graphic, pictured here, provides examples of free, educational apps that educators and mentors can use to engage their students or mentees in the application of STEM skills to environmental learning outdoors.
Even a decade ago, teacher competed with tech devices for their students’’ attention. But now, 77% of teachers believe using tech in the classroom increases student motivation to learn. At the same time, 75% of 1,900 surveyed educators said students who spend regular time outdoors tend to be more creative & better problem-solvers.These and other statistics are presented in NEEF’s new infographic, Tech & Our Planet, which demonstrates how tapping into student interest in technology and the environment can lead to a greener, more prosperous future. The infographic takes us on a journey from the prevalent use of technology by young people and the benefits of access to technology and the environment to the environmental and STEM opportunities in college and career and how ultimately, environmentally literate and STEM savvy students can be leaders in a 21st century economy.
There are many ways to Take Technology Outdoors with kids. Mobile devices, with access to Internet, a phone and a GPS, make it easy to gather, organize and submit data from observations. There are lots of great apps available that engage students and the general public in citizen science projects, like identifying wildlife or monitoring a local water body. As part of EE Week 2013, we’ve compiled a series of case studies from educators and organizations around the country who are successfully engaging students in environmental learning using tech tools. One of our case studies provides an introduction to QR codes and how to engage children and the general public in learning about the wildlife in nearby nature. QR codes are fairly easy to make and can be place on signs throughout the landscape. Visitors can scan the QR codes with their smartphones for access to a website or other types of media to learn more about that particular species or habitat. It’s also great for use in a community, school or public garden.Another case study details a project using smartphones and a popular scavenger hunt app called 7scenes to create an interactive experience for young visitors at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Older students developed a scavenger hunt for younger students, in the process learning about and coming face-to-face with endangered species from around the world. Yet another case study discusses how to use innovative software tools, like iTree Design, to calculate the ecological value of trees in the schoolyard, campus or neighborhood.
Project Noah is a website and an app that allows people to explore and document wildlife and harnesses the power of citizen scientists everywhere. By snapping photos and uploading them to a mission – a collection of spottings within a certain thematic or geographical context – people add to a global database of wildlife information, contributing to scientific discovery and expanding their knowledge of their local environment. It’s a free, easy-to-use app and provides parents, educators, students, volunteers and citizen scientists the opportunity to contribute to our knowledge of the diversity of life. It’s on our list of top 10 recommended apps for taking technology outdoors and is a great tool for all kinds of different activities that can be outdoors in nature at school or in the community.
In December of 2012, NEEF, with generous support from Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., partnered with Project Noah on Using Technology to Connect Students & the Environment, a video on how technology can further STEM learning through the environment, both in nature and in the classroom. The video demonstrates how the students of Islesboro Central School in Maine use technology to help document the ecological condition of nature preserves near their school. The students use tools like the Project Noah app in order to connect with people around the globe, including scientists, learn more about the wildlife they document, and contribute to local conservation efforts. In March of 2013, an educator toolkit was released as a companion to the video, with activities and resources around the subject of wildlife/habitat conservation to support educators in implementing a project similar to the one featured in the video with their students.
Beyond Project Noah, there are lots of great mobile apps for environmental learning outdoors. Here are just a few I’d like to call out. Additional recommendations can be found on our list of Top 10 Apps for Taking Tech Outdoors available at eeweek.org.
Each year, EE Week provides registrants certificates of participation, free online resources, information on professional development and funding opportunities, and access to discounts on educational materials from our partners. The resources that we produce take the form of educator toolkits, webinars and infographics. As part of Greening STEM:Taking Technology Outdoors, EE Weekis highlightingthe growing opportunity to engage today's students in learning about our environment, with new technologies that enable scientific research and develop 21st century skills.Our 2013 educator toolkit highlights a variety of educator resources for utilizing technology to engage students in outdoor learning on behalf of EE Week’s 2013 theme, Greening STEM:Taking Technology Outdoors. This toolkit is available as a free, downloadable PDF at eeweek.org.
Each year, EE Week hosts a series of free educator webinars with partners based on our annual theme. This year, in celebration of our Taking Technology Outdoors theme, we hosted three webinar on a variety of topics relating to tech & the outdoors.Using Technology to Investigate the Outdoors featured the Pacific Education Institute (PEI) and explored how to use technology to engage students in investigative outdoor field experiences. Taking Technology Outdoors: Geography Connections featured National Geographic Education and Esri and explored tech tools that engage students in citizen science projects and connect them with their local communities. 21st Century Tools for Environmental Learning in the Community, co-hosted by Green Teacher, featured the Island Institute and their strategies for integrating and applying technology with community-based environmental education programs.All of these and other past webinars have been archived and are available for viewing at eeweek.org
Do you have an inspiring photo of how you and your school or organization are engaging students in environmental education? EE Week invites you to upload your photos, including those from digital cameras, camera phones and social media sites like Instagram to the EE Week Photo Contest. Your photo can depict activities either inside or outside the classroom, before, during or after EE Week. The 2013 EE Week Photo Contest -- which runs from April 1 through May 31, 2013 -- is open to individuals affiliated with a school or organization providing K-12 educational programs. Photo Contest applicants must be 18 years of age or older, have a valid email address and be residents of the United States.* Read the complete contest rules. Entries will be judged on quality, visual appeal and the student learning that resulted from the environmental education efforts depicted in the photo. Prizes include a Samsung Galaxy Note® 10.1 (Wi-Fi) 16GB, a 14.2 Megapixel Samsung SMART Camera and a Dual-View Smart Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi.Got photos of wildlife near your school? Upload them to Project Noah's Global Schoolyard Bioblitz mission and harness the power of technology to contribute to wildlife observations from schoolyards around the world in an effort to get kids outside and exploring nature. Contribute now through May 31 for the chance to earn a commemorative digital EE Week 2013 patch.
Every great outdoor adventure has a great classroom component. And, for those who may not be able to explore outdoors, technology can help bring the outdoors into the classroom. One example is participating in a Distance Learning Adventure. The new FSNatureLIVE site provides access to past and present Distance Learning Adventures and education resources from the USDA Forest Service, Prince William Network and partners.
3Statement of PurposeWe provide knowledge to trusted professionalswho, with their credibility, amplify messages tonational audiences to solve everydayenvironmental problems. Together, we generatelasting positive change.
Greening STEM10• Solutions to 21st centuryenvironmental challenges oftenresult from STEM knowledge andskills.• Hands-on environmentaleducation projects enrich STEMlearning and offer an excitingopportunity to engage morestudents in STEM.
A Message by U.S. Secretary of Education,Arne Duncan12“We know so many of thejobs of the future are in theSTEM fields, and there areso many great ties betweenSTEM education andenvironmental education. Ifwe really want to keepthose good jobs in thiscountry, if we want ourstudents prepared, I thinkthere’s no better way tostart to get at that, whetherit’s in 2nd grade or in 11th or12th grade, than to get kidsout in the outdoors withenvironmental education.”
Tech & Our Planet• 75% of 1,900 surveyededucators said students whospend regular time outdoors tendto be more creative & betterproblem-solvers• 77% of teachers believe usingtech in the classroom increasesstudent motivation to learn.• Children who experience thenatural world & haveopportunities to play & learnwithin it are more likely tochoose science or related fieldsas careersAvailable at: www.eeweek.org
Greening STEM:Taking Technology Outdoors14Use smartphones andapps to create ascavenger hunts inparks, zoos, etc.Put QR Codes on plantlabels and outdoor signsto link to changeableonline informationincludingvideos, text, images andsound.Use software toolsto determine theecological benefitof trees.More case studies at: www.eeweek.org
16Using Technology to Connect Students & the Environment
Apps for Outdoor LearningExamples17What’s Invasive! - Help scientists locate invasive species by making geo-taggedobservations and taking photos in their natural areas. The information studentscollect can help stop the spread of invasive species which destroy native habitats.iNaturalist – Record nature observations and share them with the onlinecommunity of naturalists. Students can also keep a log of the wildlife theydiscover and the biodiversity they experience while being outdoors.Leafsnap – a free mobile app that uses visual recognition software to helpidentify tree species from photographs of their leaves. **For iPhone & iPadonly.
EE Week Photo ContestUpload your photos - including thosefrom digital cameras, camera phonesand social media sites like Instagram -to the EE Week Photo Contest.Prizes include a Samsung Galaxy Note®10.1 (Wi-Fi) 16GB, a 14.2 MegapixelSamsung SMART Camera and a Dual-View Smart Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi.Upload your wildlife photos to ProjectNoahs Global Schoolyard Bioblitzmission now through May 31 for thechance to earn a commemorativedigital EE Week 2013 patch.
Register, tune in, and experience our latest LIVE programs or access our past adventures andjoin the nature action!• Live adventures take you to exciting places where you meet experts and educators.• PAST Adventures allow you to access full programs, searchable video segments andclassroom resources anytime.• Education Resources aligned to the standard provide lesson plans and educator resourcesthat can be integrated into your classroom and beyond.