tree on a hill at sunsetStudents are no longer satisfied with studying the world around them from the pages of a textbook. All over the country, there is a huge push for STEAM (science, technology, education, art and mathematics) and earth science curriculum. California has lead the charge, promoting environmental literacy in all of its schools. Students are digging into challenging material that teaches about climate change, air quality and water studies.

What are Students Learning?

Students in all grades are tackling common environmental problems and developing innovative new ways to improve the planet. High school students may, for example, figure out how to divert rainwater and use it for filtration purposes. Middle school students study fish behavior and populations and how they are affected by global warming. Chemistry students in high school may study conservation, wildlife preservation and the melting of polar ice caps.

Why is Environmental Literacy Vital?

There is startling evidence that students in grades K-12 are woefully unaware of common issues facing our planet. Because of their unpreparedness, they are susceptible to believing misinformation, such as theories about the earth being flat or the denial of climate change. Textbook writers and curriculum designers are taking note, creating new material that delivers in-depth information that allows students to make the connection between science and the real world around them.

The new curriculum will focus on hands-on experiments, real-world exploration and themed units.

Students Love Environmental Literacy

Studies have shown that when given a choice of science topics to study, most students will choose topics that focus on environmental science. They enjoy making the connection between classroom science and the real world. Environmental science is tangible. They can see the effects of weather on their lives, they enjoy the study of animals and they are intrigued that their actions can change the planet.

Integrating environmental literacy into the curriculum is a good way to ensure that students enjoy a lifelong intellectual curiosity and an interest in improving the world around them.

Our private tutors tell us that environmental education gives children a desire to connect with the outdoors. Many children spend most of their free time indoors, engaging in sedentary screen time instead of engaging with the outside world around them. Students who take part in environmental literacy are more likely to report enjoying hobbies like hiking, running, biking, boating and other outdoor activities.

In addition to the many benefits that environmental literacy brings to students, it also makes a difference in the world’s marketplace. The seeds of environmental literacy grow into the desire to create sustainable businesses and to invest in “green” industries. At no point in history has an in-depth focus on environmentalism been more vital. Although the world’s population is increasing, the world’s resources are not.

At the time of this writing, 40 of the 50 states have developed plans to include environmental literacy into the curriculum. Students are learning about greenhouse gases, recycling, natural fuels and clean energy. They are interacting with the world around them in a way that points to a bright new future.