Greening STEM Activities, Lessons, and Curricula

Science the "Write" Way

Grade 1: Science the Write Way


Using ideas from place-based education, the authors present a simple year-long project that brings science, nature, and other curriculum standards to life right in your school yard. With a focus on journaling, this project is a novel way to promote nonfiction writing in your classroom. These first-graders called themselves “nature detectives” because they used observation skills and simple tools to investigate a small natural area in their school yard.

Chapter 27 focuses on the need for students to have opportunities to have “fieldtrips.” The importance of these experiences can easily be generated without traveling long distances. The authors clearly reiterate the understanding that students will not only be engaged, but also have an abundance of learning experiences right outside their classrooms.

Go to Resource

Patterns and the Plant World: STEM Road Map for Elementary School

Grade 1: Patterns and the Plant World


What if you could challenge your first graders to relate changes in seasonal weather patterns to changes in the plant world using a container garden? Patterns and the Plant World outlines a journey that will steer your students toward authentic problem solving while grounding them in integrated STEM disciplines. As are the other volumes in the series, this book is designed to meet the growing need to infuse real-world learning into K–12 classrooms.

The book is an interdisciplinary module that uses project- and problem-based learning to help young children make discoveries about a range of natural phenomena. Students draw on earth and environmental science, mathematics, engineering, English language arts, and social studies.

Go to Resource

Integrating STEM Teaching and Learning Into the K-2 Classroom

Grades K-2: Integrating STEM Teaching & Learning into K-2 Classroom


This book’s 10 chapters are a mini-course on blending authentic, phenomena-driven, integrated STEM teaching and learning into busy K–2 classrooms. Based in both research and real-world experience it provides professional learning experiences that make connections between STEM topics and the everyday activities you’re already doing with your students.

To show you how it all works in real life, the book provides descriptions of four completed projects from actual classrooms—projects with names like “Baby Bear’s Chair” and “A Pond Habitat.” An easy-to-follow template shows the process for developing your own STEM experiences. The final chapter describes how one district created a culture of STEM teaching and learning when education partners committed to working together toward a common goal.

Go to Resource

A Place in the Shade

Grades K-2: A Place in the Shade-An Engineering Challenge

This lesson affords students the opportunity to work collaboratively to design and build models that will reduce the warming effect of sunlight on an ice cube. After the structures are built the students test their structures outside. As a class they analyze the results of each structure compared to each other and to the control ice cube.

During the testing phase of this lesson students will begin to understand that an ice cube will melt if it is in the sun because the sunlight heats it. The shade structure will affect the speed at which the ice cube melts. Teachers can reinforce this Crosscutting Concept by helping students recognize and record this observation and by asking questions directly related to cause and effect relationship pattern.

Go to Resource

Smithsonian Science for Makerspaces: Channel Challenge!

Grades K-2: Channel Challenge

Student teams will be introduced to the phenomenon of how water can rapidly change the environment. They will observe how engineers reduce the impact of flooding events with materials that can absorb and channel water. At the end of this challenge students will be able to assess the ability of classroom materials to stop the movement of water.

The design stage is separated into two sections: In the first students will assess each of the four materials, and in the second, students will plan a flood prevention system using the four materials and share it with their student group. In the testing stage student groups discuss and build one flood prevention system, test it, then based on the data attempt to improve their design with other materials. Connections to real world solutions are then explored.

Go to Resource

Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons, K-2

Grades K-2: Picture-Perfect STEM


Uses the associated collection of children’s books in combination with ready-to-use student pages and assessments to aid in guided inquiry. The lessons lead students to ask questions and define problems; obtain, evaluate, and communicate information; and engage in argument from evidence. Along the way, students invent a handy backpack, design their own process for recycling crayons, and build a model habitat for an imaginary pet.

For more information on how to implement Picture-Perfect Science in your classroom—including key reading strategies and connections to the science standards—download the free e-book Why Read Picture Books in Science Class?

Go to Resource

A Slick Solution: Cleaning an Oil Spill

Grades 1-5: A Slick Solution: Cleaning an Oil Spill


An oil spill can be deadly for fish, plants, and other organisms in a river ecosystem. Through the storybook Tehya’s Pollution Solution, students learn about a spill. Applying their knowledge of ecosystems and food webs, students test water quality and oil-absorbing properties of different materials as they engineer a process for cleaning up an oil spill. This unit introduces students to the field of environmental engineering.

The teacher guide includes four detailed lesson plans, one context-setting storybook, background content, teacher tips, suggestions for English Learner differentiation and grade level adaptation, and duplication masters for student handouts and assessments. Additional unit-specific resources include Spanish translations, content area connections, standards alignment, extension lessons, classroom videos, and more!

Go to Resource

Natural Hazards STEM Road Map for Elementary School

Grade 2: Natural Hazards


What if you could challenge your second graders to help communities prepare for disasters ranging from floods and wildfires to earthquakes and hurricanes? With this volume in the STEM Road Map Curriculum Series, you can!

Natural Hazards outlines a journey that will steer your students toward authentic problem solving while grounding them in integrated STEM disciplines. Like the other volumes in the series, this book is designed to meet the growing need to infuse real-world learning into K–12 classrooms.

This interdisciplinary module uses project- and problem-based learning to help young children explore cause and effect. Working in teams, your second graders will draw on science, English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and the engineering design process.

Go to Resource

Why is Our Corn Changing?

Grade 2: Why is Our Corn Changing? (Version 1.0)

This second-grade unit on plant growth starts off with students exploring the mystery of their harvest corn, something they initially saw as decoration, beginning to sprout what look like leaves and roots. Disagreements about how the corn is growing spark a series of questions and ideas for investigations related to what is causing this growth.

NOTE: Unit submitted by Next Generation Science Storylines. As indicated by the version number, this Grade 2 unit is in ongoing review and revision and the version posted online at the submitter’s website may differ from the one that was reviewed and is posted.

Go to Resource

Biodiversity Blitz: Grades 3-5 Activities

Grades 3-5: Biodiversity Blitz


This is a downloadable resource for educators of students in grades 3-5 that invites young learners to investigate the variety of species in an ecosystem, and how this variety – or biodiversity – helps sustain life on Earth. Three hands-on activities, with an emphasis on science, English language arts, math and social studies, engage students in learning about why biodiversity is one of the most important indicators of an ecosystem’s health, and how greater biodiversity means a greater ability to cope with change. Designed to be flexible, the activities can be used as individual, stand-alone lessons, or all together as a cohesive unit of instruction using a storyline technique. In addition to the typical elements that educators have come to rely on from PLT, new features in our theme-based series will further help educators adapt the activities for specific groups and settings.

Go to Resource

Picture-Perfect STEM Lessons, 3-5

Grades 3-5: Picture-Perfect STEM


Uses a variety of associated trade books, such as The Inventor’s Secret; An Ambush of Tigers; and Trash to Treasure: A Kid’s Upcycling Guide to Trash, to teach STEM concepts and reading comprehension strategies. Through the accompanying lessons students learn ways to plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, construct explanations, and design solutions. Students invent toy cars, learn how scientists use technology to track individual animals within larger groups, figure out how to reduce plastic pollution, and tackle other real-world projects.

Extend beyond the 15 hands-on lessons with other engaging fiction and nonfiction books like those found in the More Picture-Perfect Science Assembled Book Collection that features books about Rachel Carson and John Muir.

Go to Resource

How Can We Ensure Health for all From Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Grades 3-5: How Can We Ensure Health for All from Mosquito-Borne Diseases

This curriculum in the form of a community research guide contains seven parts, each with a series of tasks to complete. A checklist of tasks contained in each section allows students to track their progress. Sections include tasks related to defining the problem, mapping impacts, life cycle investigation, disease transmission research, habitat surveys, management plans, and creating and communicating an action plan.

Developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center in partnership with the InterAcademy Partnership as part of the Smithsonian Science for Global Goals project. These community research guides use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to focus on sustainable actions that are defined and implemented by students.

Go to Resource

Harnessing Solar Energy

Grade 4: Harnessing Solar Energy


What if you could challenge your fourth graders to use solar energy to provide the world with clean water? Harnessing Solar Energy outlines a journey that will steer your students toward authentic problem solving while grounding them in integrated STEM disciplines. The series is designed to meet the growing need to infuse real-world learning into K–12 classrooms.

This book is an interdisciplinary module that uses project- and problem-based learning to investigate energy and energy sources, with a focus on solar energy and water scarcity.

Go to Resource

Save Our Shore

Grades 4-5: Save Our Shore

In this activity, students learn about coastal erosion and the role of engineers in protecting shorelines by applying the engineering design process to devise ways to mitigate erosion that take public concerns into account – and use both structures and policies. Save our Shore includes a two-minute video showing Pacific coast erosion damage to engage the students in a phenomenon that affects many towns and homes near water. As students learn about coastal erosion, they will be making sense of the role engineers play in protecting our shorelines. Students are challenged to develop a plan to help an imaginary town manage a soil erosion problem. Using a wave tank and working in groups, students will modify the beach to alleviate as much sand erosion as possible using the materials they are provided. They are challenged to include two policies that regulate human behavior and do not physically alter the shoreline.

Go to Resource

Rainwater Analysis

Grade 5: Rainwater Analysis


What if you could challenge your fifth graders to design rainwater recycling systems to provide water for a fictional community garden? Rainwater Analysis outlines a journey that will steer your students toward authentic problem solving while grounding them in integrated STEM disciplines. The series is designed to meet the growing need to infuse real-world learning into K–12 classrooms.

An interdisciplinary module that uses project- and problem-based learning. Using their own school building and grounds as a design lab, student teams will be challenged to develop rainwater collection and delivery systems. They will draw on Earth and environmental science, mathematics, the engineering design process, and English language arts.

Go to Resource

MySci: From Sun to Food

Grade 5: MySci: From Sun to Food

In this unit, students consider the question: If we eat pizza, why don't we look like pizza? To try to explain this phenomenon, students will develop and refine a farm model throughout each lesson. Students will see how matter is cycled through ecosystems and how energy flows from the sun to the consumers in a food chain. As students engage in the activities in this unit, the Crosscutting Concepts of Energy and Matter and Systems and System Models are emphasized.

This unit was developed by Washington University- St. Louis Institute for School Partnership.

Go to Resource

Wind Energy

Grade 5: Wind Energy


What if you could challenge your fifth graders to develop an economical, eco-friendly wind farm? Wind Energy outlines a journey that will steer your students toward authentic problem solving while grounding them in integrated STEM disciplines. The series is designed to meet the growing need to infuse real-world learning into K–12 classrooms.

This book is an interdisciplinary module that uses project- and problem-based learning to investigate the interactions of Earth’s systems, including geography, weather, and wind.

Go to Resource

Pre K-8: Environmental Education Activity Guide

Elementary/Middle School: Have Seeds, Will Travel – Activity #43

This activity uses the three dimensions to explore the phenomena of seed dispersal that helps in germination and it allows the students to make sense of the phenomena by designing a method of seed dispersal that is student-led. The focus of the lesson is to support students in making sense of seed dispersal methods as they design and engineer a seed model that promotes dispersal and successful germination.

In this activity students will be exposed to the characteristics for successful reproduction in plants and explore this concept while connecting science, technology, engineering, and math strategies. Videos and research links provide instructional support. Project Learning Tree® (PLT) is a program of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Go to Resource

Human Impacts on our Culture

Grade 6: Human Impacts on Our Climate


Challenge your sixth graders to come up with ways to help tackle climate change in their own community. This interdisciplinary, three-lesson module uses project- and problem-based learning to investigate aspects of climate change that have been driven by the rise in global temperatures over the past century. Working in teams, students will use an engineering design process to identify a local environmental problem, develop a model to help monitor and minimize its impact, and create a presentation about their findings.

In-depth and flexible, Human Impacts on Our Climate can be used as a whole unit or in part to meet the needs of districts, schools, and teachers who are charting a course toward an integrated STEM approach.

Go to Resource

The Changing Earth

Grade 8: The Changing Earth


Challenge your eighth graders to help people recognize the inherent risks of living in a region that’s prone to flooding, earthquakes, and volcanoes. This interdisciplinary, six-lesson module uses project- and problem-based learning to introduce the powerful idea that the Earth is shaped by ongoing geologic processes that can alter our landscape in a short time. The module also helps students appreciate the nature and process of science, including the roles of evidence, conjecture, and modeling.

The Changing Earth can be used as a whole unit or in part to meet the needs of districts, schools, and teachers who are charting a course toward an integrated STEM approach.

Go to Resource

Discover Your Urban Forest

Middle School: Discover Your Urban Forest


Discover Your Urban Forest is the first collection of activities to be released as part of this new themed series for educators. It features three brand new PLT activities for educators of students in grades 6-8 that invite learners to explore their urban environment and investigate environmental issues that affect their urban community.

The activities in Discover Your Urban Forest encourage learners to investigate environmental issues that affect their urban community. By inspiring youth to learn about the place they live, these activities help students better understand how the world works and what sustains them.

Go to Resource

Protecting Our Cities

Middle School: Protecting Our Cities with Levees

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused severe damage and suffering to the people who lived in New Orleans. The levees that surrounded the city did not hold the immense amount of ocean water that rose from the storm.

In this activity, students will use the engineering design process to design and build their own model levees. Acting as engineers for their city, teams create sturdy barriers using limited materials to prevent water from flooding a city in the event of a hurricane.

Students compare multiple solutions in the final assessment where they present to the class how their prototype met or did not meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Go to Resource

Protecting Coastal Erosion

Middle School: Where’s the Beach? Investigating Coastline Erosion Protection

Developed by The Nature Conservancy, this lesson engages learners in exploring the phenomenon of soil erosion at the beach, and in designing solutions to mitigate it. In part one, learners research how wave energy affects shorelines, predict the relationship between waves and erosion, and use historic data to study the effects of tides and major storms on the Gulf Coast. They use videos, photos, and an online interactive tool to study the impact of erosion. Learners investigate the exponential relationship between wave height and energy. Learners describe types of barriers to protect shorelines from waves. Then, in part two, learners research a natural oyster reef as a barrier and more extensive, man-made barriers. They create a model shoreline and test the impact of waves on their shoreline with different types of barriers. As the final extension, learners create a cost-benefit analysis of different types of barriers and predict which would be the best to use in certain environments.

Go to Resource

Disruptions in Ecosystems

Middle School: Disruptions in Ecosystems

This middle school unit was designed to support the middle school NGSS related to Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics integrated with elements of related Earth science NGSS (Human Impact). The unit includes five chapters, each focused on a specific phenomenon related to ecosystem disruption, including questions around the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone and the invasion of zebra mussels in the Great Lakes and the Hudson River. © Regents of the University of California.

The unit has undergone two rounds of classroom field-testing and expert review. It underwent a third field-test during the 2017¬–2018 school year. Based on this field-test and feedback from the EQuIP review, the unit will be revised and resubmitted to the Science PRP for a final review.

Go to Resource

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere

Middle School: Plastic, Plastic Everywhere!

This activity engages learners in a meaningful scenario that reflects their own experiences in the use of plastic bags and introduces them to the concept of marine debris. Learners are asked to do a research project measuring the amount of plastic bags they use at home and school and create a communications piece that educates others on plastics contribution to marine debris.

In the Extension part of the lesson, learners can take steps to reduce the use of plastic bags and educate their community on reducing waste. The lesson takes approximately one week to complete. A data collection form is included. Developed by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, links to resources are available for the learners and the teacher to use.

Go to Resource

An Ocean of Plastics

Middle School: An Ocean of Plastics

An Ocean of Plastics was designed to help students raise public awareness and take action against the global crisis of plastic pollution by reducing their individual impact, educating their family and communities, and proposing possible solutions to help monitor and minimize the effects of plastic pollution in our oceans. Students gain a deeper understanding of how the water cycle and ocean circulations allow plastics to collect in ocean gyres as well as the effects of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems.

This unit is in a draft stage written in collaboration with Aspire Public Schools and The 5 Gyres Institute. Future versions will be resubmitted to the Science PRP and will also be posted on the 5 Gyres website.

Go to Resource

Carbon & Climate

Middle School: Carbon and Climate


This e-unit explores two essential questions, What is climate? What role does carbon play in climate? and several others. This Project Learning Tree unit provides activities and resources to help educators introduce learners to some of the complex issues involved in climate science and its associated social, political, and environmental challenges.

The unit meets academic standards including: Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Math, and the C3 Framework for Social Studies. Of special note, these Project Learning Tree lessons are not just aligned with NGSS, but have been constructed around NGSS target performance expectations.

Go to Resource

Thinking Outside the (Nest) Box

Middle School: Thinking Outside the (Nest) Box

The activities in Thinking Outside of the (Nest) Box will introduce youth to the life cycle of nesting birds and provide instructions for building and installing nest boxes, which in turn will enable youth to become citizen scientists and report their observations of nesting birds to the NestWatch program. The lessons align with Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Standards.

Thinking Outside of the (Nest) Box is an educational resource created by NestWatch, a citizen-science program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This curriculum will introduce grades 5–8 to the world of nesting birds and engage youth in STEM learning and citizen science through the construction, installation, and monitoring of nest boxes.

Go to Resource

It's in the Bag: Engineering Bioinspired Gear

Middle School: It's in the Bag: Engineering BioInspired Gear

Plants and animals have amazing ways of protecting and defending themselves, which can inspire engineers to design new technologies. Learners will explore and build upon their knowledge of how animals use camouflage, different modes of protection, and bioluminescence. Learners become materials engineers as they use the Engineering Design Process to design bioinspired gear that meets clients’ needs.

Created for after school and camp programs, this unit takes students through a bio-inspired engineering design challenge. Available as a free download. Printed copies and a kit of all materials required can also be purchased.

Go to Resource

The Very, Very Simple Climate Model

Middle School: The Very, Very Simple Climate Model

In Part 1 of this activity, students read an article and examine a graph showing global surface temperature trends over the last century as well as future predictions. They read about climate models as well as levels of accuracy and uncertainty in such models. In Part 2, students learn about the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions, carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere, and average global temperature using an interactive simulation.

The simulation engages students in meaningful scenarios that reflect the interconnected nature of science as it is practiced and experienced in the real world. Students are asked to interpret and represent their ideas. The teacher notes give good questions to ask the students to help guide them in the lesson and thoroughly explains the simulation.

Go to Resource

Working with Wind Energy

Middle/High School: Working with Wind Energy

The lesson focuses on how wind energy can be generated on both a large and small scale. Students read about anemometer and site testing for wind turbines and learn about engineering design and how engineering can address society's challenges. Students work in teams to design and build their own windmill out of everyday items which they select and purchase with a budget. They test their windmill, evaluate their results and present reflections to the class.

The teacher can begin the lesson with a video of wind turbines such as the one found at to elicit student questions and prior experiences. The full lesson plan and student worksheets can be downloaded from the website. Lessons have been translated into several languages.

Go to Resource

Plant Growth and Gas Exchange

Middle/High School: Plant Growth and Gas Exchange

This unit includes 11 lessons that focus on how atmospheric carbon dioxide is fixed through photosynthesis to produce organic compounds that contribute to the biomass of a growing plant. It begins with an engaging question that most students would think they are able to answer. However, the carefully designed sequence of learning experiences challenges common student misconceptions and guides students toward an accurate and evidence-based explanation of plant growth, photosynthesis, biosynthesis, and cellular respiration.

Modifications to the unit might provide an excellent opportunity to address a bundle of performance expectations that focus around photosynthesis and respiration, energy flow in ecosystems, and carbon cycling.

Go to Resource

The Bioenergy Farm Game

Middle/High School: The Bioenergy Farm Game

In this board game, players take on the role of bioenergy crop farmers trying to earn a living while being good environmental stewards. In the process, players explore the economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with growing different bioenergy crops, more specifically biofuel crops used in ethanol production. The game serves as an engaging way to explore a range of environmental issues and ecological interactions related to climate change mitigation (CO2 emissions), biodiversity conservation (pesticide use), water quality (erosion/nutrient runoff) and sustainable agriculture. The goal of the game is to plant and manage a farm so as to make money and create positive environmental impacts while respecting chosen values and goals. The resource includes a game board, card deck and a manual.

Go to Resource

Healthy Living

Grade 10: Healthy Living


What if you could challenge your 10th graders to develop a product or process that helps people embrace diet and exercise and has a positive impact on society? With this volume in the STEM Road Map Curriculum Series, you can! Healthy Living outlines a journey that will steer your students toward authentic problem solving while grounding them in integrated STEM disciplines.

Like the other volumes in the series, this book is designed to meet the growing need to infuse real-world learning into K–12 classrooms. This interdisciplinary, three-lesson module uses project- and problem-based learning to help students build their knowledge about health from the varied perspectives of a cell biologist, nutrition scientist, biochemist, physiologist, public health practitioner, and consumer.

Go to Resource


High School: Carbon TIME Human Energy Systems Unit

One of six units in the Carbon: Transformations in Matter and Energy curriculum, an NSF-funded research collaboration focused on learning progressions to support environmental literacy. Students should first complete the foundational unit, Systems & Scale, then at least one of the three units at the organism level, and then complete the Ecosystems unit before moving into the culminating Human Energy Systems unit. Each unit focuses on three questions: (1) Where are the carbon pools in the environment? (2) How are carbon atoms cycling among pools? and (3) What is happening to energy? In this unit, students investigate a series of phenomena focused on global carbon cycling and climate change. The highly guided sequence of six lessons helps students interpret large-scale datasets, trace global movements of matter and energy, and explain the consequences of human choices for changes in atmospheric CO2.

Go to Resource

Concentrated Solar Power

High School: Concentrated Solar Power

In this activity students learn how the total solar irradiance hitting a photovoltaic (PV) panel can be increased through the use of a concentrating device, such as a reflector or lens. This is the final lesson in the Photovoltaic Efficiency unit and is intended to accompany a fun design project (see the associated Concentrating on the Sun with PVs activity) to wrap up the unit. However, it can be completed independently of the other unit lessons and activities.

This resource provides background information about photovoltaic cells, has class discussion and assessment materials, and then incorporates all of those components into a laboratory activity. The engineering iteration process is a key component of this resource.

Go to Resource

Global Energy Flows

High School: Global Energy Flows

In this activity students analyze data detailing global energy sources and uses, then construct a diagram to show the relative scale and connections between them. Discussions of scale, historical, socio-environmental and geographic variation in this data and implications for future energy use are included.

In the assessment students use the information from data obtained, analyzed, and evaluated in parts one-three to make predictions on how and why energy sources and uses will change in the next twenty years. Students must use the science and engineering practice of obtain, evaluate, and communicate information, crosscutting concept of energy and matter, and disciplinary core idea of natural resources to be able to create this visual or written explanation of future energy use.

Go to Resource

Engineering Design Inspired by Nature

High School: Engineering Design Inspired by Nature

A project-based approach to creative problem-solving, students along the way learn fundamentals and modern methods used by engineering and design professionals in material science, structural and mechanical engineering, product design, manufacturing, energy, computer science, medical technology, architecture, urban design, and more.

Modular and scalable to fit different school curricula needs and structures, up to 30-50 hours of material. The course can supplement and enrich existing courses, be used as a stand-alone engineering and design course, and be taught daily or intermittently over a month or throughout the semester or year. Aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, the curriculum comes with Teaching Guide, Student Readers, and Media Materials.

Go to Resource

Biomimicry and Science: Applying Nature's Strategies

High School: Biomimicry and Science: Applying Nature’s Strategies

The course reinforces core content in science using striking examples from nature and bio-inspired design as a framework to capture student interest. The first three modules of the curriculum address chemistry, physics and biology with five lessons in each subject area. A fourth module guides teachers and students through a project-based learning experience in which students learn and apply a biomimetic approach to design thinking to solve a challenge.

A full-featured curriculum for purchase co-authored by the Biomimicry Institute and EcoRise Youth Innovations. Module 4: Biomimicry Design Challenge is offered as a free excerpt that can be downloaded from the Biomimicry Institute Shop.

Go to Resource

Farming for Ecosystem Services

High School: Farming for Ecosystem Services

This board game engages students in three-dimensional learning as they explore the phenomenon of human impact on biodiversity and the environment. The game models/simulates an ecosystem as students decide how to invest money to design a farm within a woodland that will not only be financially profitable but also enhance ecosystem services.

The game provides eight different ways to use each of six potential lots. Information is provided about costs, ecosystem services (or disservices), farming, and potential profit. Drawing cards at random, students are further constrained by additional costs due to climate, pests, and disease. The resource includes a lesson plan, a presentation, and game printouts.

Go to Resource

Suggested Readings

Environmental Engineering for the 21st Century: Addressing Grand Challenges

Environmental Engineering for the 21st Century

Environmental engineers support the well-being of people and the planet in areas where the two intersect. Over the decades the field has improved countless lives through innovative systems for delivering water, treating waste, and preventing and remediating pollution in air, water, and soil. These achievements are a testament to the multidisciplinary, pragmatic, systems-oriented approach that characterizes environmental engineering.

Over the next several decades as the global population grows, society will be faced with pressing challenges such as providing reliable supplies of food and water, diminishing climate change and adapting to its impacts, and building healthy, resilient cities. To address the challenges, the report recommends that the environmental engineering field evolve its education, research, and practice to advance practical, impactful solutions for society’s multifaceted, vexing problems.

Go to Resource

Creating Engineering Design Challenges

Creating Engineering Design Challenges


If you’ve ever wished for advice you can trust on how to make science and math more relevant to your middle or high school students, Creating Engineering Design Challenges is the book for you. At its core are 13 units grounded in challenge-based learning and the engineering design process. You can be sure the units are classroom-ready because they were contributed by teachers who developed, used, and revised them during the Cincinnati Engineering Enhanced Math and Science (CEEMS) program, a project funded by the National Science Foundation.

The contributors’ goal is to help you benefit from their hard-won experience. Working from their advice, you can develop a more student-centered classroom culture and nurture learners who are engaged in real-life engineering challenges.

Go to Resource

Argument-Driven Inquiry in Fifth-Grade Science

Argument-Driven Inquiry in 5th-Grade Science: 3-Dimensional Investigations


A well-organized series of 16 field-tested investigations designed to be much more authentic for instruction than traditional activities. The focus is on making sense of how the world works. Investigations cover matter and its interactions; motion and stability; ecosystems and their interactions, energy, and dynamics; Earth’s place in the universe; and Earth’s systems.

The lessons support the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics. The book can also help emerging bilingual students meet the English Language Proficiency Standards with its tips for teaching English language learners.

Go to Resource

Supporting Emergent Multilingual Learners in Science

Supporting Emergent Multilingual Learners in Science


rounded in solid research, the book begins by laying out the need for a special approach to integrating science and language and also outlines the 5R model. This book combines science-teaching strategies with down-to-earth help for emergent multilingual learners (EMLs). It shows you how to put into practice the 5R Instructional Model: Replace, Reveal, Repeat, Reposition, and Reload. It then moves from theory to practice by focusing on each of the five Rs and showing how they play out in specific situations.

The book’s authors have diverse backgrounds in science, mathematics, and bilingual education. Drawing on the intersection of these areas, they show how you can reduce conflicts and enhance connections between inquiry teaching and language instruction.

Go to Resource

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming



The 2017 book Drawdown describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming. For each solution, the authors describe its history, the carbon impact it provides, the relative cost and savings, the path to adoption, and how it works. The goal of the research that informs Drawdown is to determine if we can reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon within thirty years. All solutions modeled are already in place, well understood, analyzed based on peer-reviewed science, and are expanding around the world. Upcoming guides will help individuals and communities take action on Drawdown solutions. Explore impactful actions you can take to help the world reach drawdown through your everyday lifestyle choices. Discover how you can multiply your impact for a climate-safe future.

Go to Resource

Understanding Climate Change

Understanding Climate Change


A new book from NSTA Press, Understanding Climate Change, offers both extensive background and step-by-step directions for using three-dimensional instructional methods to explore this complex subject. Based on what they learn, students can use critical thinking and analysis to draw their own conclusions about what should be done.

The book is easy to use even for teachers with no background in climate science. Understanding Climate Change, Grades 7–12 is structured as a nine-session module that establishes a conceptual foundation without risking information overload. The material can be covered in three or four weeks or used in part to supplement an existing curriculum.

Go to Resource


  • Anderson-Butcher, D., H. Lawson, J. Bean, B. Boone, A. Kwiatkowski, et al. Implementation Guide: The Ohio Community Collaboration Model for School Improvement. Columbus, OH: The Ohio Department of Education, 2004.
  • Baker, Erica, Breanna Trygg, Patricia Otto, Margaret Tudor, and Lynne Ferguson. Project-based Learning Model: Relevant Learning for the 21st Century. Olympia, WA: Pacific Education Institute, 2011.
  • Baker, Eva L., Angelicque Tucker Blackmon, Karen Brennan, Diane J. Briars, Kevin Clark, Chris Dede, Mariette DiChristina, et al. STEM 2026: A Vision for Innovation in STEM Education. Washington, DC: Department of Education, 2016.
  • Buck Institute for Education. A Framework for High Quality Project Based Learning. Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education, 2018.
  • Edlund, Kristen, Nancy Skerritt, and Lisa Eschenbach. Designing High Impact Field Experiences. Olympia, WA: Pacific Education Institute, 2016.
  • Mergendoller, John R. Defining High Quality PBL: A Look at the Research. Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education, 2018.
  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. How People Learn II: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2018.
  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2019.
  • National Research Council. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012.
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy. Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education. Washington, DC: National Science and Technology Council, 2018.
  • Otto, Patricia, Kirk Robbins, Bob Sotak, and Craig Gabler. Field Investigations: Using Outdoor Environments to Foster Student Learning of Scientific Practices. Novato, CA: Buck Education Institute, 2015.
  • Center for Place-Based Learning and Community Engagement. Place-based Education: A Report from the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (Second Edition). Place-Based Education Evaluation Collaborative, 2010
  • U.S. Department of the Interior STEM Education Working Group. STEM Education and Employment Pathways Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2013-2018. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, 2013.


Examples Are Not Endorsements

This document contains examples of, adaptations of, and links to vendors, resources, and programs created and maintained by other public and private organizations. This information, informed by research and gathered in part from field experts and practitioners, is provided for the reader’s convenience and is included here to offer examples of the many resources that educators, parents, advocates, administrators, and other concerned parties may find helpful and use at their discretion. NEEF does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information, including whether these vendors, resources, and programs are fully compliant with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act provisions and the provisions of other laws intended to ensure equal access to educational experiences and programs for diverse student learners. Further, the inclusion of links to items and examples does not reflect their importance, nor are they intended to represent or to be an endorsement by NEEF of any views expressed or materials provided.

DISCLAIMER: Science and technology are changing all the time, so it’s important to remember that information contained in any resource may become out of date. While we strive to ensure that toolkit entries are up to date, please note that we assume no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or views expressed in the resources. If you have a question or concern regarding a resource, we encourage you to contact the resource’s publisher directly.

Template 1