Think Earth's environmental curriculum, which is designed for preschool through middle school, is being updated, revised, and made freely available online.
In order to make our way toward a more sustainable world, it's important that we're not only taking direct action now, such as expanding initiatives that reduce pollution and increase renewable energy production, but it's also key that we're giving future generations a good understanding of our environmental issues and challenges, because ultimately, they will be the ones inheriting them.
And there's no better time to start educating kids about the environment than early on in their lives, when they are still getting a grasp on the basics, because so much of what we learn during our formative years ends up influencing the rest of our lives, for better or for worse.
Learning about core environmental concepts, such as the importance of conservation of our natural resources and the effects of pollution and waste, can help inform the future of both individual decisions as well as national and global efforts toward sustainability, but all too often, these topics get passed over in favor of other, more conventional, educational goals.
After all, getting great grades in traditional academic courses can directly influence our kids' future careers, but learning the importance of conserving resources or reducing our waste streams, for example, doesn't always translate into a clear or measurable outcome in financial terms. But then again, neither do the arts or sports, and yet we still value those aspects of education, as they can go a long way toward creating a more meaningful and fulfilling life, which will have a positive impact that can last a lifetime.
And now, access to effective environmental education is about to get a bit easier, as a historically print-based curriculum is being updated, revised, and made available for the internet generation. In a bid to increase the reach and the impact of its work, the nonprofit Think Earth Foundation is making its award-winning environmental education curriculum available for free, starting initially with grades K-2, with grades 4-8 rolling out over the next year or so.
"The Think Earth mission is to help communities create and maintain a sustainable environment through education. We seek, initiate, and oversee environmental projects and partnerships among stakeholders from the business, education, government, and public sectors."
The Think Earth Environmental Education curriculum, which is designed with Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and the McREL Standards Compendium in mind, has been distributed to more than 70,000 teachers (and presented to some 2 million students) over the last two decades, and has garnered a number of awards during that time. The curriculum is described as a "behavior-based" program, which is meant to not only educate kids about the issues, but to also help drive a change in daily habits, which is a key component of any environmental program.
"Environmental education is vital to stemming the effects of climate change around the world. Our curriculum makes it easy for teachers to show students that small everyday behaviors, such as turning off unused lights, putting trash in trash cans, carpooling to school, and recycling can have a big impact on the health of our planet. If we help young people establish positive environmental habits while they are young, they’ll carry them into adulthood and pass them on to the next generation." - Joseph Haworth, Chairman of the Think Earth Foundation
The Think Earth curriculum includes teacher's guides, handouts, practice exercises, posters, videos, and songs, and has Family Activity Sheets that students can take home to help share what they've learned with their parents and the rest of their family. The updated curriculum is available now for grades K-2, with the third grade unit to be released sometime this month, and grades 4-8 are currently being developed and will be ready for release next year. Each unit can be taught over the course of a week, and the program has received glowing reviews from teachers and students alike.
Find out more at Think Earth.