K-12 Education

Greening STEM Approach

Greening STEM helps educators spark interest in STEM learning while encouraging a deeper appreciation for the environment

interested in implementing Greening STEM?

Educators looking to spark interest in STEM learning have embraced the Greening STEM approach. Incorporating elements of placed-based learning, three-dimensional learning, project-based learning, and community-based learning, the Greening STEM approach increases young people's academic achievement, strengthens their ties to their community, and encourages a deeper appreciation for the environment.

Here you’ll find information on how to implement Greening STEM, any available grant funding, as well as an Idea Journal to help you identify and develop a Greening STEM activity or project.

Educator Benefits

Teaching outside the classroom can help educators create enthusiasm for learning, provide a real-world context, and make connections to STEM concepts. Motivated youth make the learning experience enjoyable for both educators and themselves.

Working with colleagues, local green spaces, and/or community groups on a Greening STEM project is an opportunity for educators to hone their leadership skills while refreshing their teaching practice and supporting youth through a new learning experience.

We're always looking for ways to get our students involved in real-world experiences.

Veronica Lopez
See How It Works
Teachers Implementing Greening STEM

Veronica Lopez, 7th grade science teacher at Benjamin Franklin Middle School, talks about her experience with the Greening STEM approach at her school.

Increasing Educator Confidence

After participating in a Greening STEM project, educators report an increase in confidence in:

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Implementing and leading citizen science and environmental monitoring activities.

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Encouraging participation from youth of diverse backgrounds in STEM activities.

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Fostering ongoing collaboration between with public lands and developing new community partnerships.

Teachers Making It Happen

Greening STEM is more than just a field trip. Hear from public middle school teachers who have successfully implemented Greening STEM programs in partnership with federal public lands and local nonprofits.

Greening STEM Review
Enhancing Learning and Local Partnerships

NEEF interviewed science teacher, Spencer Powell, about environmental education and Greening STEM. Watch what Mr. Powell has to say about Mesa County Valley School District No. 51’s approach to environmental education.

Greening STEM Review
Helping Students Focus with Hands-On Experience

Watch NEEF’s interview with Jessica Stoerger, a natural resource teacher at Pearl City High School in Pearl City, Hawaii. Jessica was the lead teacher for the NEEF USDA Forest Service Greening STEM project in 2020.


Greening STEM Learning Components


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Uses all aspects of the local environment, including local cultural, historical, and sociopolitical situations, and the natural and built environment as the integrating context for learning.


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This component brings cultural relevance and issues of equity and justice into learning and encourages educators to support youth in understanding the context around local environmental topics.


Puzzle with the final piece being added

Learners master academic skills and gain content knowledge while working together in teams to explore a problem in depth, which helps them develop leadership, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. 

Three Dimensional

Tablet showing plant. Hand points to tablet.

Greening STEM incorporates three dimensions outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts.

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Collage of pages of the Greening STEM implementation guide

get The Implementation Guide:

NEEF’s Greening STEM approach is an adaptable framework for creating a series of integrated and holistic learning activities. This implementation guide gives you a broad overview of best practices.



Funding Future Scientists
Greening STEM Grants

NEEF offers a variety of Greening STEM Grants and funding opportunities through our partnerships with federal agencies and private corporations. Learn about current grants and past grantees.

Photo of students learning outside with mountains in the background
photo of male student inspecting plants with magnifying glass
Photo of children climbing a to view a rock during an environmental education program



Learn more About Greening STEM

Get inspired to start a Greening STEM program at your school and offer your students an experiential education program that will stick with them for a lifetime.

Greening STEM Partners

Meet the organizations that partner to make successful STEM programs and empower the next generation of...

Greening STEM Projects

See how Greening STEM provides authentic learning experiences that deepen learning while reinforcing a sense...

Greening STEM Activities, Lessons, and Curricula

NEEF has gathered a list of books covering Green STEM topics and where to purchase them. Most links are for...