Standard reading, writing, and arithmetic lessons may still make up the bulk of the lessons at most schools, but there’s still plenty of room to incorporate lessons on the environment, sustainability, and green living. Whether you’re a motivated student, an involved parent, or a forward-thinking teacher, put these projects on your to-do list to help students of all ages find their passion for saving the Earth.
First period: Science
This one’s almost too easy: just about any environmental issue you can think of has a scientific background. Host a science fair that encourages kids to research and test solar power, alternative energy sources, and biodiesel fuel, or have them run energy audits on their homes and school to find ways to trim usage and costs.
Second period: English
Put pen to paper and prove that power of the written word by contacting your local movers and shakers to get them on board with your efforts. (Browse petitions about the environment here.) Whether it’s an impassioned letter to your congressman for (or against) a bill he’s trying to pass or a focused effort to get your local pizza place to start recycling paper plates. See how much can happen when you can find the right way to ask.
Third period: Math
Environmentalism is full of numbers–but do kids know what they really mean? (Do adults?) Calculate your carbon footprint, and then find ways to subtract from it; learn how to measure electricity to understand just how much power that Wii is using; see what percentage of the Earth’s species are endangered (and how that number changes over time). Doing the math can help abstract subjects hit home even harder.
Fourth period: History
Human lifestyle has changed a lot over the course of the Earth’s history–but it’s always been affected by weather, climate, and terrain. Work up lesson plans that explore how the lack of clean water affected one population, or how an unforgiving climate moved another group to new lands, or how the Industrial Revolution affected pollution levels. Then ask kids to imagine what people will learn about us in the centuries to come–and what we can do about it.
Fifth period: Home Ec.
They may feel completely removed from home economics now, but this class offers tons of lessons in green eating: which fruits and vegetables to eat organic; how to choose the freshest produce; how to cook without resorting to restaurants or packaged food every night. Then move onto sewing–how to make clothes last longer, how to restructure a garment, how to make your own clothes–and homekeeping for lessons in eco-friendly cleaners, making your own cleaning solutions, growing a garden, and making a healthy compost bin. (Someday they’ll thank you.)
Sixth period: Gym
Outdoor gym classes might give students a new perspective on the importance of green space and of, well, just plain getting outside–but if your school has students inside for most of the year, continue the alternative energy lessons with stationery bikes hooked up to generators, or teach them to use furniture and body weight (instead of plastic equipment or energy-guzzling treadmills) to get a green workout.
Did we forget your favorite class? Leave more suggestions in the comments below.
Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.
By Blythe Copeland, Planet Green