Tag Archive | "Education"

Make an Environmental Difference: Student Grants now available

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Have you ever had an environmental project, or idea, but didn’t have the finances to get started?  Planet Connect is here to help, giving high school students grants and green knowledge, so that they can positively impact their environment and local community.

Planet Connect logo
It’s well documented that the youth of today are more environmentally knowledgeable and conscious than any other current generation.  Knowing this, Planet-Connect.org wants to help foster the outstanding environmental ideas that so many teens already have.

Planet Connect

Planet Connect’s newest round of Student Grant Applications has just been released, and we welcome all to apply.  There will be many grant winners, giving you a great chance of receiving funding – especially if you believe your project can help the environment and local community.  Isn’t the environment the winner, anyways?  At Planet-Connect.org, we are happy to provide you with the funding to make a lasting difference.  We hope to see your application.

Some previous winning project’s titles include:

  • Water Monitoring Stations
  • Educational Trail at Long Hunter State Park
  • The Greening of the East Side Cafeteria
  • Replanting a Garden for the Community
  • Educating Latino Communities about Healthy Fish Consumption
  • And many more

Application page: http://www.planet-connect.org/planet-connect-grants

In addition to becoming a one-stop shop for info on Green Colleges, Careers and Grants, Planet Connect is also a social networking site, where high school students can share ideas, videos, comments and suggestions with each other.  Hope to see you there!

Student Grant Application Deadline: November 15th, 2009

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Article by David Lanham and Anna Burke

Meet the green creature

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If you’re regular readers of this blog (and/or of the GGirlsG) you’re probably beyond the ’7 easy steps to save the planet’ stage in your life, but I still want to tell you about the lovely newly redesigned Do The Green Thing because I think that these guys (as well as The Nag which I will write about in the near future) are the most creative, engaging and inspiring green education project out there on the web – I’m a big fan.

So if you, like myself, still have cynical, reluctant or just lazy friends I highly recommend to send them to Green Thing (especially if they have kids), there is a good chance that the green creature will get them on board and help them lead a greener lifestyle.

With the help of brilliant videos and inspiring stories done with the help of creative people and community members around the world, Green Thing focuses on seven things you can do – and enjoy doing.

After a great first year in which they reached over 2.1 million people from 171 countries worldwide (!) and helped save in excess of 3.4m KGs of CO2, they now made Green Thing even simpler by giving people seven easy ideas for a greener life.

Meet Green Thing from Green Thing on Vimeo.


Meet Green Thing from Green Thing on Vimeo.

James Russell – How to Turn our Children Green

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It’s hard to remember what the world was like before we found out about climate change. For children it’s probably impossible. Yet ten or fifteen years ago Greens were still perceived as slightly crazy, unrealistic misfits – people who refused to engage in the eternal political battle between right and left, but instead wanted to send humanity back to the Dark Ages.

With Green politics rapidly becoming mainstream and the Environment high on everyone’s list of important subjects, we’re moving into new territory. The old campaigners from the 1970s are suddenly discovering that politicians and pundits are listening to them, and you can hardly pick up a newspaper or open a web page without somebody telling you how to Green up some aspect of your life. Rarely a day goes by without an alarming news story about melting ice or vanishing species. In fact the news story that doesn’t have climate change as an important component is now as rare as the Panamanian Golden Frog.

Child with Geese

News and opinions inevitably filter from the adult world into the playground, and children are worried. A government-sponsored UK survey of primary (4-11) education last year found that kids were pessimistic about the future and concerned about everything from climate change to trade injustice. Many equated these huge issues (which they felt powerless to address) to their immediate environmental problems – traffic, bullying and so on – creating a general climate of anxiety.

This has worsened a tendency that should alarm environmentalists across the spectrum: children’s abandonment of the real world in favour of TV, the internet and fantasy fiction. A recent editorial in the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust magazine suggested that children’s lack of enthusiasm for nature (in reality, rather than on TV) did not bode well for wildlife organisations that rely both on the work of enthusiastic volunteers and donations from supporters. The people currently filling the ranks and the coffers of the RSPB and other organisations developed their passions when they were children, but if our children spend their free time at home (or in manmade playgrounds), how can they do the same?

Other factors are at work here, for instance the misguided health and safety rules that make it so hard for schools to arrange trips. My son went to a wonderful pre-school set beside a city farm, yet the kids never went to the farm during school time because to take them fifty metres required supervision at a ratio of one adult for every three children.

If children are raised in these surroundings, driven everywhere in cars and offered the easy solace of the bedroom computer, it’s no wonder they find the real world alarming. Add to this fears of climate change and you have a generation ill-equipped to face any sort of challenge, never mind the ones our kids are likely to encounter.

Child with ducks

Yet many children want to be active and informed citizens, and thankfully they are now getting more and more opportunities to do so. The international organisation Eco-schools (www.eco-schools.org) is one that doesn’t yet have the cachet of Greenpeace, but it could prove a vital force for change. Some 40,000 schools around the world (8,000 plus in the UK) have signed up to this programme designed to help schools teach kids about a whole range of Green issues and carry out practical work.

A glance at the nine topic areas listed on the UK website (www.eco-schools.org.uk) shows that this programme goes way beyond light bulbs and composting. It is, in fact, a revolutionary exercise in consciousness-raising, covering everything from Fair Trade to Biodiversity. It insists on the importance of children leaving the classroom and experiencing the world as much as possible, emphasizes that the Environment is all around us and ours to look after, and empowers students by putting the school council rather than teaching staff at the centre of the decision-making process.

Of course schools can ignore the whole thing if they choose, but this is part of a wider movement to encourage and facilitate children’s involvement with their environment. A few years ago play workers in the city of Bath launched a Play Rangers scheme, which offered children adult supervision in local parks, encouraged adventurous play and gave lessons in outdoorsy skills. Now local authorities all over the country are launching similar schemes, and children are coming out to play.

Personally, I am less excited about the much more loudly-trumpeted Greening of children’s TV and websites. While it might be inspiring for children to see their favourite characters saving the planet, the children themselves are still staring at a screen. If we want a new generation of eco-warriors to stand up to governments and corporations in the future, they need the opportunity to fall in love with the world around them and to develop the strength and imagination to become its protectors.

James Russell is the author of How to Turn Your Parents Green
howtoturnyourparentsgreen.blogspot.com

Managing Change : A Blue Print for an ‘Ecolution’

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How many times have you witnessed your workplace changing? A few days ago I sat and participated in a workshop on change management. The very words ‘change management’ evoke all sorts of cynicism in me. I’ve seen my fair share of departmental re-structures in both the private and public sector. ‘Change management. What feeling do those words evoke?’ the consultant asks. ‘Sham’ is usually my first unconscious first reaction. However change management is more about trying to help people come together, and sort things out in a way everyone wants to. If only they told you that in the first place.

As I sat there, it dawned on me that maybe society needs some help with Climate Change. Maybe society needs a little bit of Change Management.

Prosci came up with a change management model called ADKAR. They call it a model, but some may call it common sense, a Tao or even a bit of advice.

Apparently these five steps enable you to recognise what you need to do in life, to survive change (or at least make yourself feel better about it).

1. Awareness – ‘For things to make sense, you’ve got to know why change is needed.

- Famine, mass immigration, food crashes, economic risk, disease caused by climate change. If you think Climate Change is a left-wing conspiracy, then you really haven’t read enough. I’m not being nasty, it’s just simply the way it is.

2. Desire – ‘You must have the desire to support and participate in change

- As James Lovelock said in The Guardian(1) ‘Humanity is in a period exactly like 1938-9, when “we all knew something terrible was going to happen, but didn’t know what to do about it”. But once the Second World War was under way, “everyone got excited, they loved the things they could do… they had a sense of purpose – that’s what people want.” At the moment people are in denial, because they can’t relate to catastrophic climate change on a personal level. They won’t make environmental improvements until the waves are at the doorstep.

3. Knowledge – ‘Once the need for change is realised, you wonder how to change, and minimise the impact on your own life’

- GreenGirlsGlobal, GreenGuysGlobal, and all those leading the environmental on-line ‘ecolution’ can help increase your knowledge. Information about making environmental improvements has never been so widely available.

4. Ability – ‘You need the ability to implement new skills and behaviours. Can you rise to the challenge?

- Recycling, growing, building, helping, engineering, discovering, complaining, campaigning. There’s something for everyone

5. Reinforcement – ‘Making change, making history. It can only happen with reinforcement

Once you’ve cracked all the previous points, change large enough to save the world can only happen, if you help others through the process. Don’t forget, not everyone surfs the Internet.

We are headed towards a 2-degree rise in global temperatures. IPCC scientists have told us that this is the limit of safety (2). For those of you that think this will make the summers nicer, think again. Reports from the Center for a New American Security (3) and the OECD (4) have climate change could induce: mass immigration, crop failures, disease, economic crises and international security issues. It’s not just about the sea level.

Kevin Watkins UN Development Report recently said that it require take rich countries to make a 80% reduction in Carbon Dioxide for there to be a fifty-fifty chance of the temperature not rising by 2 degrees (5).

We cannot give up on humanity now. For all the bad things in this world there are at least twice as many good things. The challenges we face together as a species are not insurmountable. We owe it to those generations that have given us our freedom, we owe it to future generations across the world.

Climate change isn’t a war, a great fire or a pandemic. But like all those challenges it requires commitment, strength, creativity and all the technological ingenuity that humanity can muster. In the words of Nelson Mandela. ‘Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.’

(1) ‘Enjoy Life while you can’, The Guardian, 1 March 2008

(2) ‘Too late to avoid climate change’, The Independent, 19 September 2007

(3) The Age of Consequences : The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change, The Center for a New American Security

(4) OECD 2008, Environmental Outlook

(5) UNDP, ‘UN Focuses carbon burden’


Steu Mann – Students Motivate Themselves in Environmental Education

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K-12 students in Kenya, Paris, or San Diego all have one significant commonality: the environment. What Inconvenient Truth did for raising the bar on environmental education is, without a doubt, “global awareness?” I think whoever watches it, even if they don’t agree with the message, gets a clear picture of how different aspects of the environment are directly connected to our life styles.

Education Information StallEvery class of my high school students watching that movie have concluded with the question, “What can I do?” Young people today do care about what happens with the environment; yet many feel overwhelmed or powerless in dealing with environmental issues. My experience leads me to believe that the time has arrived to capture their interest with learning experiences to discover appropriate care of tomorrow’s healthy environment, which means providing environmental education that is academically focused and civically pointed.

Service learning contributes to student education, along with building social skills: character building. Service-learning is considered a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. Constructivists (e.g., Brooks & Brooks, 1999) propose that students actively create their own knowledge using real world situations to examine essential concepts in a context that is personally meaningful. Service-learning has been around since for almost 100 years as a method to enhance education. Since the early 1990’s there have been more and more legislative efforts and comprehensive national programs to emphasize and support this learning. Today, there’s a growing interest on the part of educators as more studies point out the cross- curriculum benefits.

Students recycling

Producing projects that combine service learning and environmental education is easily accomplished to fulfill lesson objectives and it can be molded to fit class characteristics. Here are two examples of projects for grades 5-12: A) students in a middle school science class studying the environment help preserve the species of birch trees, local to their area, by raising money to purchase some small birch trees and then plant them at a local park or forested area; B) students concerned with the quality of the environment organize a recycling effort at school by establishing and carrying-out a schedule of regularly picking up recyclable materials from classes and offices; then depositing that material in a campus bin that is picked up by a recycle vendor. There are volumes of benefits for students participating in a project.

Educators have to take the lead in class environmental projects. The teacher has to get them pointed in the right direction, assist them in getting organized, and keep them on track. When I hear my students asking about what they can do, I take their interest down to our local level. We begin talking about ideas to clean up the campus, teaching other students about the environment, or doing some work in the neighborhood. We begin with brainstorming on ideas as a class. The next step is alignment, making a commitment as a class to take some action on at least one project we have discussed. The last step is the most comprehensive because it involves the actual project work. The pivotal point is the students taking control and running the project work, which happens when the teacher becomes a resource or Subject Matter Expert. If you want a copy of my Environmental Project Packet, which helps the students and I stay organized. Receive my Environmental Project Packet for free by clicking here.

Students in the Classroom

There’s a multitude of projects that integrate environmental stewardship with academic success. This project type is totally complaint with current Standards. From a teacher point of view, as much as I want to deny it, the fact remains: I must teach to the test to have my students succeed. Below are two of the National Science Education Standards whose scope is deep enough to encompass most environmental service learning projects for grades 5-12:

Students recycling in their community

- Content Standard B: The program of study in science for all students should be developmentally appropriate, interesting, and relevant to students’ lives; emphasize student understanding through inquiry; and be connected with other school subjects.

- Content Standard C: Teachers of science engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning.

I guarantee all teachers this: if you have the time and sincere motivation, the students will gladly partner with you on completing an environmental project. It’s a win-win situation: the students win in academics and in skill building, the teacher wins as the students learn while practicing responsibility, and the environment is nurtured. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to receive support in getting an environmental education project started with your class(es).

Resources

North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Education

National Service Learning Clearinghouse

National Student Service-Learning and Community Service Survey

References

Brooks, Jacqueline Grennon, Martin Brooks. In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA; Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development,1999.

About the Author: Steu Mann is a high school biology teacher as a second career. He established Education Reporting, Inc. in his effort to provide a resource for improving K-12 education. Any questions or comments can be sent to him at smann@educationreporting.com.

Vampire Energy Costing Us $3 Billion A Year!

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Good Magazine has a great graphic depicting the economic implications of leaving appliances plugged in for an entire year. We all know that a minuscule amount of energy is being consumed just by leaving a device plugged in – but, an average consumer with a reasonable electronics collection will waste around $300 leaving all those gadgets plugged in year round. Thats 2,500 kilowatt hours completely wasted!

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In a recent research published by the Energy Saving Trust they’ve calculated that if one mobile phone charger per household in the UK is left on standby, the energy wasted is enough to provide the electricity needs of 66,000 homes for one year.

Those of you with a plasma TVs, take notice…

Story via the fantastic PSFK

Consume Less

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Recently I had been sent a e-mail with a link to this wonderful video that explained that as consumers most of us don’t see or see too little of what the big picture has to tell us about what the real cost of what it takes to produce a product in terms of money, content and pollution to create and make a item we see in a store.

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There are five steps in the process of creating product. First there is extraction of natural resources next comes the process of production made from the natural resources, chemicals etc. then comes distribution at your local stores which leads people to consume or buy a product and finally the disposal of the product. This short video digs deeper into these five steps in making and distributing from life to death of a product. The short movie with Annie Leonard is about 20 minutes long which you can see at The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard also on their web page you can watch, download the video which is about 55mb in size, or you can even buy a DVD with this video for $10. I recommend this video for everyone to watch especially for the real consumers that keep buying products more than what the average person may buy in a given month or year. Spread the word about this video it may even get you thinking about what you even buy for the holidays, birthdays party’s or even things you buy for your own self.

Jack Guest – A Convenient Truth, a film about the world getting better

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Only a few years ago, anyone working to raise awareness about climate change was doing just that: working to raise awareness. The challenge was primarily to convince people that climate change was happening, and that it was a problem to take seriously.

Earth - Image from A Convenient Truth

One of the refreshing things about today’s climate is that this first challenge has been won. Thanks in large part to Al Gore, and all the work preceding his, global warming is all but uniformly recognised – both on a national and international level- as the greatest threat facing humanity today.

Still from the film A Convenient TruthThis means that for the first time in the history of environmental campaigning, activists, politicians, mothers, fathers, businesses and anyone else moved to act can focus all of their energy on creating solutions to the problem. And this means that the challenge of global warming can become an opportunity for things to get better.

From all I’ve seen so far, the cornerstones of this opportunity are two-fold: collaboration and action. Action is self explanatory: we have to do something, and we have to do it now. Collaboration is the mechanism to do it. Gone are the days of ‘them and us’ approaches to environmental issues- more clearly than ever we all see that there’s a massive problem, and the only way out is to work together.

Still from the film A Convenient TruthThat means governments, businesses, pressure groups, families, students, civil servants, red, blue, green, black, white, pink, capitalist, anarchist, socialist , upper-class, lower-class, working-class, middle-class, religious, non-religious, 4×4 driving, cycle driving, suit or sandal wearing, you name it. We are united by our common humanity, and if that doesn’t make sense to you, then by our common being on this blue ball together a long, long way from any other coloured balls on which we can live.

So what’s the convenient truth about all this? That doing the work- doing what’s needed to stabilise the climate, not only enriches our own lives, it also enriches the lives of those around us, and everyone with a stake in planet earth- which is everyone. Everyone wins.

Earth - Image from A Convenient TruthIt’s not always easy. Collaboration, whether within a family, or within the arena of international politics takes work. It takes work to get through our clashing egos in order for our common humanity to emerge: imagine Mr Capitalist and Mr Anarchist in the Big Brother House arguing over whose turn it is to do the washing up, meanwhile the chickens in the garden are being eaten by a hungry fox who got driven from his home in the woods.

The question is the nature of our end goal. Too often in life the end goal is drama, tension, sparks flying and continuing to fly. Is that what we want on a planetary level? Or can our end goal be harmony? Can we do away with the drama of doom and gloom, now? Do away with the tension of political stand-off? Can we collaborate enough so that once the initial sparks of ego clashes have flown, they can recede and we can get on with the job at hand?

I think we can, and I think it’s worth it. And that’s A Convenient Truth.

The feature length preview of my film, A Convenient Truth, is now available online, www.climatefilm.com/preview

View the trailer on YouTube or visit the website at www.climatefilm.com

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Lord Monckton rap battles Al Gore – Climate-Gate?

The latest episode of Hip Hop News Parody show ‘Rap News’ deals with the lead up to potentially historic Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen, 7th December. Your host Robert Foster brings notorious figures from both sides of the debate together in the studio to have it out. Lord Christopher Monckton, the hereditary peer from Great Britain, finally gets the chance to pour his barrage of climate change skepticism all over IPPC darling, Al Gore. Who will win, and who will be rap battled into the ground to eat logic dust? Find out here on Juice Media’s Rap News.

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