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Seven Superfun Engineering Challenges for Environmental Education Week

Posted by Cynthia Berger on Thursday, April 12, 2018



The world faces grave environmental challenges—climate change, pollution, overpopulation, loss of biodiversity, or ozone layer depletion—that we can address only with STEM knowledge and skills. That’s why the National Environmental Education Foundation created Environmental Education Week (EE Week) to promote environmental learning for kids in grades K – 12. This year's Environmental Education week starts Monday, April 23rd through Sunday, April 29th. How will YOU celebrate? We’re pleased to share seven curriculum units from the EiE afterschool programs Engineering Adventures and Engineering Everywhere that fit perfectly with the themes and goals of EE Week, call for inexpensive materials you probably have on hand already, and are super fun! 

Control an Invasive Species

Hop to It illustration

Cane toads are native to Central and South America. Farmers brought them to Australia to control pesky beetles—but instead they’re harming rare and vulnerable wildlife. The Engineering Adventures unit Hop to It: Safe Removal of Invasive Species calls on your powers of creativity as you design a humane trap for toads.



Explore Earth Systems with High-Flying Technologies

Sky's the Limit illustration

Did you know America’s space agency has an environmental mission? Yup, NASA researchers study planet Earth along with the other planets, building and deploying airborne and space-based observatories and sensors to learn about Earth systems like oceans, ice sheets, and forests. Do your own aeronautical engineering with the Engineering Adventures unit The Sky’s the Limit: Engineering Flying Technologies


Turn Cast-Offs into Cars

Recycled Racers illustration

Recycling is big in Senegal! Kids often make their own toys by repurposing items that would ordinarily be discarded. The Engineering Adventures unit Go Green: Engineering Recycled Racers draws inspiration from this national engagement in recycling. Try your hand at engineering toy cars from recyclables, then compete in a Recycled Racer Rally!

Take Farming to New Heights

Vertical Farms illustration

The world’s population keeps growing. How can we make sure that people in cities have easy access to fresh, nutritious food? One solution is growing food right in the city, in high-tech “vertical farms.” Check out the Engineering Everywhere unit Growing Up: Engineering Vertical Farms and explore this new and growing approach to farming.



Reduce Trash with Bioplastics

Bioplastics illustration

Plastic bags, plastic spoons, plastic containers . . . we’re used to throwing away “disposables.” But plastics pile up in landfills, taking up space and making a mess. The Engineering Everywhere unit Plants to Plastics: Engineering Bioplastics lets you try chemical engineering as you design and test new forms of plastic made from plant-based materials.



Fight Flooding—Control Stormwater Runoff

Runoff illustration

You don’t notice unless it’s raining, but stormwater runoff is a huge environmental problem. Cities are paved with hard surfaces that keep water from soaking in; it runs off, causing flooding and washing pollution into rivers, lakes, and oceans. With the Engineering Everywhere unit Don’t Runoff: Engineering an Urban Landscape, you redesign a cityscape to reduce runoff. 



Conserve Energy—Engineer an EcoHouse

Insulated Homes illustration

Keeping your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer takes a lot of energy—and that energy usually comes from fossil fuels. The simplest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to use less energy, but can you do it and still stay comfortable? You’ll design and test an energy-efficient model home with the Engineering Everywhere unit Here Comes the Sun: Engineering Insulated Homes.

For pre-printed Educator Guides and pre-assembled Materials Kits, visit the EiE Store.

Have fun engineering—and please share pictures of what you create on Twitter using the #EiEInspired! 

Written by Cynthia Berger

Topics: Out-of-School time

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