What is Environmental Education?
Environmental education is the study of the relationships and intreractions between dynamic natural and human systems. Environmental education:
- Includes learning in the field as well as the classroom.
- Incorporates the teaching methods of outdoor education, experiential education, and place-based education.
- Is inherently interdisciplinary.
- Promotes school/community partnerships.
- Is hands-on, student centered, inquiry driven, engages higher level thinking skills, and relevant to students' everyday lives.
- Develops awareness, increases knowledge, builds skills, and creates the capacity for stewardship and good citizenship regarding the environment upon which we depend for life support.
- Helps address the causes of "nature deficit" disorder."
- Boosts student achievement in math, science, reading, writing and social studies.
Below is a listing of resources for Environmental Education (EE). From free-lessons to programs and organizations, there is a wealth of materials, information and projects to bring EE to your classroom and community!
Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) is a network of volunteer monitoring programs in Michigan.
Earth Force engages young people as active citizens who improve the environment and their communities now and in the future.
Watersheds.org offers resources and project examples for teaching about water quality.
Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), the mission of Project WET is to reach children, parents, educators, and communities of the world with water education.
Michigan Project WET the home of Michigan's Project WET network at Annis Water Resources Institute of Grand Valley State University.
Water Quality Test Kits Options for Students:
Lessons and Activities
Data in the Classroom provides free curriculum and scientific information for students to investigate Earth processes using real data, promoting scientific inquiry skills.
Ask Nature is an online database and inspiration source about biomimicry.
Concord Consortium has an online learning activity for students about freshwater availability, hydrology and conservation. In this investigation, students will explore the question: Will there be enough fresh water for the growing human population? Students will use groundwater models to discover how water flows above, through, and beneath Earth's surface. Students will analyze how water is used to propose solutions that may preserve clean freshwater sources for the future.
Enchanted Learning has online curriculum materials and printable resources for students.
Project WILD is a wildlife focused conservation education program for K-12 educators and their students.
Project FISH (Friends Involved in Sportfishing Heritage), Project F.I.S.H is an educational program for youth and families sponsored locally by schools, fishing conservation organizations, others interested in fishing and our fisheries.
PLT (Project Learning Tree) is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. It offers curriculum, programs and more!
Leopold Education Project (LEP) is an innovative, interdisciplinary, critical thinking, conservation and environmental education curriculum based on the classic writings of the renowned conservationist, Aldo Leopold.
Salmon in the Classroom Students and teachers participate in a program to follow the life cycle of salmon from eggs, to hatchling to smolt, starting in the classroom. The program culminates at the end of the school year with the release of the young fish in a local watershed that feeds one of the Great Lakes.
Annie's BIG Lesson Programs in the BIG Lesson model, students, teachers, and parents use community resources as their classroom for a week. Changing the concept of the traditional field trip to a week-long interdisciplinary study trip, this experience includes investigations, behind-the-scenes tours, presentations by community experts, and groups of students working cooperatively on research
Classroom Earth is an online resource designed to help high school teachers include environmental content in their daily lesson plans. The site is comprehensive resource for environmental education across the U.S.
Climate Change: Wildlife and Wildlands Toolkit provides information about regional changes in ecocsystems predicted with climate change and educational resources.
EcoLibrary gives students and teachers free access to high-quality images and useful supporting information.
Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s Electronic Naturalist program is a free, web-based interactive program. Electronic Naturalist features a new natural science lesson every two weeks.
Wisconsin Environmental Science Teacher Network helps environmental science teachers with one another, with resources, and with professional development opportunities.
Wild World Educator’s Guide from National Geographic Society offers activities for students to learn about biodiversity and ecoregions through exploring maps.
Alien Invasion: Plants on the Move is a “weed” curriculum for grades K-12. A comprehensive website with lesson plans, background material and presentations.
ESCAPE Learning Modules to learn about the impacts of exotic species, includes case studies, quiz and lesson plans.
EPA Classroom Ready Resources in partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation provides direct links to classroom resources on water, energy, recycling, air quality and more!
National Wildlife Federation lesson plans presented here are a sampling from NWF's collection of over 1,000 lesson plans designed to introduce students to life science, ecology, wildlife biology, scientific identification and observation. All lesson plans are aligned to the National Science Education Standards.
Center for Essential Science (CES) is a research center committed to developing and evaluating educational materials for K-12 students that focus on some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. The website includes resources, publications and example lessons.
Biodiversity Counts! This resource collection takes students into the field and engages them in life science research: the inventory of plants and arthropods outside their own backdoors. Resources in this collection include lesson plans, essays, and Web-based interactives that help students explore, analyze, and apply their field observations.
Go Green E-Waste Recycling Project provides a partnership opportunity to organize an electronic waste recycling day at your school.
Citizen Science for the Classroom
GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program.
Project Budburst is a national citizen science field campaign that targtes native tree and flower species around the country.
Journey North tracks the monarch migration between North America and Mexico using student data. The website offers lesson plans, presentations and students hand-outs to teach students about this incredible journey.
USA National Phenology Network tracks changes in the timing of flowering, emergence of insects, or the arrival of birds, all of which monitor changes that may be due to climate change. It offers the Nature's Notebook phenology curriculum for students to engage in citizen science.
Michigan Herp Atlas provides a format for citizens to help with monitoring reptiles and amphibians in Michigan.
The Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program is a binational, long-term monitoring program that coordinates the skills and dedication of hundreds of volunteer Citizen Scientists throughout the Great Lakes Basin in Ontario and the United States.
Michigan Green Schools offers information how to make your Michigan school a GREEN school through this school-friendly certification process.
Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative is a state-wide effort to encourage place-based education to create the next generation of environmental stewards. The program offers funding and training for developing regional hubs.
COSEE Great Lakes is a network of researchers, educators and students in collaboration to share knowledge and research about the Great Lakes. The site offers online events, professional development opportunities and curriculum about Great Lakes science.
Earth Partnership for Schools is a program that assist teachers in developing ecological restoration sites on school grounds with proven curriculum that integrates the process into multiple subject areas.
National Ocean Sciences Bowl - The Great Lakes, the NOSB is a nationally recognized and highly acclaimed high school academic competition that provides a forum for talented students to test their knowledge of the marine sciences including biology, chemistry, physics, and geology. The NOSB was created in 1998 in honor of the International Year of the Ocean and since its inception, the competition has grown to include 25 regional competitions with 300 schools and over 2,000 students participating annually.
PROJECT EARTH is a web-based global environmental network designed to connect schools and organizations around the world to help solve environmental problems.
Eco-Schools USA is a program of the National Wildlife Federation that helps U.S. K-12 public, private and charter schools green the school building, grounds, educational programming and student experience.
Sustainable Schools Project works with schools to cultivate responsible, informed citizens, engaged in building sustainable communities.
Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) of Grand Valley State University
Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Educators dedicated to promoting environmental literacy in the state of Michigan.
Great Lakes Maritime Shipping Education Chest includes lots of hands-on education materials including a Great Lakes floor map, literature, curriculum guide,and posters.
Acorn Naturalists comprehensive catalog of environmental education resources for the trail and classroom.
KidWind offers kits for students and classrooms to make windmills and other alternative energy projects. The site includes lesson plans and background information on alternative energy.
Owl Brand Discovery Kits has owl pellets and educational supplies.
Remember to never release classroom organisms or pets into the environment that are not from your local area.
Green Teacher is a magazine that helps youth educators enhance environmental and global education inside and outside of schools.
Michigan State University Press offers publications on the Great Lakes Environment and Natural History
Environmental Smart Phone Apps
MyBeachCast App (Android Phones only) – web, iPhone and other mobile users can go online here. Search for your favorite beaches and click on a marker to view advisories; what the current weather, wind, waves and water temperatures are like there; and more.
EPA’s How’s My Waterway App - Learn the condition of local streams, lakes and other waters anywhere in the US quickly and in plain language. See if your local waterway was checked for pollution, what was found, and what is being done. The source of this information is a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) database of State water quality monitoring reports provided under the Clean Water Act.
Project Noah - With this App, tap into a world-wide network to document local sightings and join specialized missions and monitoring projects.
Leafsnap - Visual-recognition software helps identify tree species from your photos of leaves.
Project BudBurst - Observe and record the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants across the U.S.
iNaturalist - Record plant and animal sightings, then upload photos for identification help from an online community.