One of the most significant factors driving today’s world is the need to address and adapt to a changing climate. For students, this means being taught to understand the causes of our many environmental issues and ways innovators are looking to solve them. Since the ‘green’ sector of the economy is growing at such a rapid rate, it is likely that many will wrestle with these issues on a day to day basis in their future careers.
Fortunately for educators, there are numerous ways in which to incorporate environmental education into already busy lesson plans. Often times, environmental activities can be taught through hands-on outdoor lessons followed up environmental lessons that integrate technology. The combination of outdoor exploration followed by time in front of the screen, although ironic, proves to be a powerful means to help students prepare for a career that meets the needs of our society.
Environment = Interactive
There are an impressive amount of environmental activities designed to get students involved and actively learning out there. Many of these activities encourage students to learn through experience and to apply their takeaway message to the much larger world surrounding them. Other activities simply involve students spending time in nature and writing about their experiences. Some studies suggest that this time can actually benefit students by reducing stress and improving symptoms of ADHD and anxiety.
Furthermore, as many educators already know, interactive activities are often linked with better student recall. By having a concrete memory, feeling, or action associated with the lesson students have a much easier time remembering why it matters and tends to enjoy learning more. Especially when these lessons can be linked back to real life situations, interactive education stands to make a more substantial impacts on student learning.
Technology + Environment = Success
This impact becomes even more significant when it is coupled with technology. Completing interactive projects in the classroom and then using computer games or other online education tools can help students make the jump between what is happening in the classroom and what is happening out in the real world. And since some level of technological knowledge is essential for success in nearly every career after high school, the combination can help students succeed in multiple ways.
For example, the interactive computer game SimCityEDU can be used by older students to drive home many environmental issues that city leaders must be prepared to deal with. Educators can set tasks for students such as expanding the city’s population and business while still maintaining set pollution maximum or water and air quality limit. Spaces such as this offer students the opportunity to innovate and find creative solutions to many difficult problems that are faced by city officials in real life.
Success x 2 = Careers
Beyond the classroom, the use of interactive environmental activities and environmental technology can lead to a plethora of opportunities for motivated students further down the road. Sustainable careers are one of the fastest growing portions of the economy with great interest in both the public and the private spheres. This means students can find applications for their environmental and technical knowledge in nearly any career niche.
An example is through the transportation and distribution of electricity. Right now there is a surge in the development of smart grid technology. Ultimately, these grids are capable of providing more efficient energy to households all over the US and a cheaper rate than the majority of customers are currently paying. Careers such as these are perfect illustrations of how students can apply their knowledge of technology to work towards solving some of the environmental problems they learned about.
Incorporating care for the environment into classroom curriculums is a powerful way to bring awareness of the many issues we currently face. In combination with technology designed to educate students about the same environmental concerns, students develop deeper, longer lasting, more personal memories of their education. In the end, these memories could turn themselves into a career that just may change our society for the better.