Educating kids about how they can make a difference with the environment is important. Letting them actually make a difference with the environment is even more important. Involving kids, hands on, in environmental and sustainability projects will give them a sense of power over the environmental problems they hear about. They need to learn that they can DO something to help at their age. It’s not just a problem for the grown ups to fix.
The Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge is a program that is designed to do just that. According to their website
the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge will provide students and teachers with the tools and resources to inspire innovative thinking about sustainability issues, and engage them in developing actionable solutions for a greener world.
The first step of this challenge will begin this September with a national middle school competition where 6-8th graders will identify an environmental problem in their community, create a program to improve that problem, and explain how their program can be used in other communities, too.
In 2009, the program will be expanded to include kindergarten and elementary school students and in 2010 a high school program will come into play.
The Siemens Foundation is partnering with Discovery Education and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to bring this program that is “dedicated to improving science education and increasing student learning by engaging all teachers of science.”
One thing that strikes me about the way this is set up is that it divides the program between grade levels and has specific goals for those grade levels. The youngest learners learn and do on their level and the high school students learn and do at their level.
K-2: My Classroom: Introduce students to the importance of “being green” and provide opportunities for active learning and engagement.
3-5: My School: Inspire students to think beyond their classroom — using science and math skills to take their school “green.”
6-8: My Community: Empower students with tools to apply the Scientific Method to real-world “green issues” in their local communities.
9-12: My World: Connect students with real-world scientists as they tackle today’s “green challenges” — moving from insight to global action.
I know from my experience as a high school teacher and from my own two boys that kids have all sorts of ideas. A program like this that asks for their ideas and gives them the ability to explore the feasibility of those ideas is really exciting.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons