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MP2 Environmental Education
(FAL-1117-726159) Creating environmental science activities appropriate for middle school students.
Trapp, A1, Falconer, R1, 1 Chatham College, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
ABSTRACT- Environmental Education generally refers to curriculum and programs which teach about the natural world and how ecosystems work. Its goal is to bring about an appreciation for nature to increase the likelihood it will be preserved for future generations. Environmental Education is a growing subject area in K-12 schools. Many state standards are being changed to require students to take an environmental science/studies class. Because the teaching of environmental education in K-12 is fairly new, many teachers are not familiar with the subject or creative ways of teaching it. Several organizations have created environmental education criteria and teaching manuals that can be used by K-12 educators. However, most of these manuals tend to gear activities and lessons towards either elementary or high school students or the activities are written for too broad a range of students (i.e. 4th through 12th grade). Lessons must then be adapted by individual teachers to fit the students' appropriate learning level. This extra work can deter teachers from attempting new activities. The 13 and 14 year-old age group (7th/8th grades) is perhaps the most diverse, yet is often underserved in this area of education. Very few activities are geared for this specific age group and teachers must either upgrade K-6 activities or lower lessons meant for high school students. For this project, several environmental science activities, geared for this specific age group, were created. Lessons include background information, one indoor activity, one outdoor activity, materials/supplies information, student worksheets, methods of student evaluation for teachers and sources for extended information. Topics include both natural systems (e.g. food chains) and environmental problems (e.g. acid rain). By gearing activities to this specific age group, middle school students will gain more from the lesson and teachers will be more likely to incorporate the activities into their classrooms.
Key words: education, middle school, science activities
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