National Environmental Education Week Hopes to Inspire New Generation of Innovators

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EE Week to Take Place around the Nation April 15-21

This year the nation’s largest environmental education event will take learning about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) into the environment. National Environmental Education Week, or EE Week, will take place around the nation April 15-21, 2012; its theme is Greening STEM: The Environment as Inspiration for 21st Century Learning.

“The environment, whether in a schoolyard habitat, a nearby park or the subject of a classroom lesson, can serve as an ideal STEM studies laboratory as well as provide students experience with the scientific method,” said Diane Wood, president of the nonprofit National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), which produces EE Week. “We hear from young people often that engaging in study of real-world environmental challenges is exciting. As our nation encourages more STEM learning, a natural partner for this endeavor is nature.”

A projected 2 million STEM-related jobs will be created by 2014, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. Jobs relating to the environment are among those expected to see the fastest growth this decade. EE Week has released an infographic entitled STEM & Our Planet with this data at http://www.eeweek.org.

EE Week will engage an estimated 2,000 schools and organizations, as well as millions of students, in learning about a variety of environmental topics where STEM concepts will be reinforced. Also, EE Week will provide classroom toolkits that include STEM activities to participating educators. Activities range from planting schoolyard gardens and observing their productivity, to calculating energy use and developing ideas for greater energy efficiency.

“We applaud and support all teachers, students and community members who are participating in EE Week 2012. Studying the environment offers a relevant context for learning about science for today's students,” said Dr. Patricia Simmons, President, National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). “In addition, all of the fields represented in STEM education can be integrated into a comprehensive understanding of the environment by students and teachers.”

“EE Week is focusing on an important aspect of STEM learning,” said Dr. Martin Storksdieck, Director of the Board on Science Education, National Research Council. “Engaging in scientific practice through field investigations and making use of authentic learning environments aligns well with recent calls for improved STEM learning. The environment can inspire students to apply STEM knowledge and skills in helping solve real-world challenges.”

Preceding EE Week 2012 will be webinars—including on new tools for connecting classroom lessons to nature and exploring local habitats—as well as other educational opportunities. To participate in or learn more about EE Week, visit http://www.eeweek.org.

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National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) is the nation’s largest environmental education event, held each year the week before Earth Day. EE Week connects educators with environmental resources for K-12 students’ understanding of the environment.

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) provides knowledge to trusted professionals who, with their credibility, amplify messages to national audiences to solve everyday environmental problems. Together, we generate lasting positive change. NEEF partners with professionals in health, education, media, business and public land management to promote daily actions for helping people protect and enjoy the environment. Through our primary programs—Classroom Earth, National Public Lands Day, National Environmental Education Week, Business and Environment, Earth Gauge and Health & Environment—we offer Americans knowledge to live by. http://www.neefusa.org

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