Materials contributed by the ASTE Environmental Education Forum members
Environmental Education Professional Organizations
NAAEE – North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
NAAEE is the professional association for environmental education. The members promote professional excellence in non-formal organizations, K-12 classrooms, universities (both instructors and students), government agencies, and corporate settings throughout North America and in over 55 other countries.
National Marine Educators Association (NMEA)
NMEA brings together those interested in the study and enjoyment of marine and aquatic sciences, education, history and arts.
The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF)
The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) is a non-profit organization chartered by Congress to build effective public-private partnerships and develop programs that advance environmental education and engagement in the US. NEEF’s mission is to make the environment accessible, relatable, relevant, and connected to the daily lives of all Americans. Greening STEM is NEEF’s approach to STEM learning that promotes hands-on, place-based investigation that uses the environment as a context for learning.
Environmental Literacy Council
The Environmental Literacy Council is an independent, non-profit organization that gives teachers the tools to help students develop environmental literacy: a fundamental understanding of the systems of the world, both living and non-living, along with the analytical skills needed to weigh scientific evidence and policy choices.
Ecological Society of America (ESA)
The Ecological Society of America (ESA) promotes ecological science by improving communication among ecologists; raises the public’s level of awareness of the importance of ecological science; increases the resources available for the conduct of ecological science; and ensures the appropriate use of ecological science in environmental decision making by enhancing communication between the ecological community and policy-makers.
Environmental Education and Training Partnership (EETAP)
EETAP is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Education through a cooperative agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. EETAP serves as a national leader in the delivery of environmental education training to education professionals and supports a wide array of education professionals and is committed to ensuring that ethnically diverse and low-income communities benefit from and actively participate in education that advances student learning and environmental literacy.
Nationally Recognized EE Curricular Projects
Project Learning Tree
PLT, a program of the American Forest Foundation, is a multi-disciplinary environmental education program for educators and students in PreK-grade 12.
Project WILD is a wildlife focused conservation and environmental education program for K-12 educators and their students. It is based on the premise that young people and educators have a vital interest in learning about our natural world.
Project WET facilitates and promotes awareness, appreciation, knowledge, and stewardship of water resources through the dissemination of classroom-ready teaching aids.
Climate Change and Energy Education Resources
CLEAN – Climate Literacy and Awareness Network
A collection of 700+ free, ready-to-use learning resources rigorously reviewed by educators and scientists suitable for secondary through higher education classrooms.
Environmental Literacy and Inquiry Climate Change Curriculum
The curriculum begins with an investigation in which students explore, analyze, and interpret climate patterns of 13 different cities, and analyze differences between weather and climate patterns. Students explore and investigate concepts pertaining to Earth system energy balance including albedo, and surface and atmospheric absorption and reflection. Other student learning activities focus on the carbon cycle and the importance of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Students also learn about paleoclimatology and complete a paleoclimate reconstruction lab in which theyreconstruct past climates using lake varves as a proxy to interpret long-term climate patterns and understand annual sediment deposition and how it relates to weather and climate patterns. Students use a Web-based carbon calculator to determine their carbon footprint and examine their personal and household habits and choices in relation to their carbon footprint. Next, students use Google Earth to investigate geographical areas and populations affected by recent changes in climate patterns. In the culminating investigation, students use Google Earth to explore evidence of climate change during 1980 – 2010 including changes in Arctic Sea ice extent and changes in the distribution of coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea. They then use Google Earth to explore future world scenarios by examining the effects of a 2-meter rise in sea level on the existing landscape. Students then explore strategies at personal and societal levels to help reduce atmospheric carbon emissions levels.
Note: To access ELI assessments, use
Environmental Literacy and Inquiry Energy Curriculum
This curriculum unit begins with an introduction to energy and energy units. Students then calculate their personal and household energy audit. They analyze their energy consumption patterns and ways they can reduce their energy use. Students are then introduced to different sources of energy including solar, wind, tidal, hydroelectric, nuclear, geothermal, biomass/biofuels, coal, oil, and natural gas. Students use Google Earth to explore locations of different power plants. They use My World GIS (or Web GIS) to investigate the best places to locate new power plants and to analyze data. Students also examine images and videos of how different power plants work. Students also examine USA’s energy sources and uses. In the culminating activity, students develop an energy policy for the Isle of Navitas given the island’s energy resources and population. Students use My World GIS (or Web GIS) to analyze the island’s energy resources and develop an energy policy that will have minimal impact to the environment. They develop a presentation and communicate their energy policy.
Note: To access ELI assessments, use
Environmental Literacy Council: Home Energy Audit
This is a lesson plan idea from Dean Goodwin, Director of Environmental Education at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire. In this activity, students will investigate the amount of electricity that they use in their home, design a plan to reduce their consumption, and investigate the links between electricity use and its effects on the environment. Students will conduct an energy audit/survey of electrical appliances in their home in terms of the energy used and the costs involved, interpret a monthly electric bill, increase their understanding of energy units such as watts, volts, amps, and kilowatt-hours, and design and implement a specific strategy or conservation plan that will lead not only to a reduction in the amount of electricity that they use, but also to a lower monthly cost.
The NEED Project – National Energy Education Development Project
The National Energy Education Development (NEED) project develops and distributes comprehensive, hands-on energy education programs to schools nationwide. These resources are correlated to the National Science Education Standards, and to many state standards as well. Resources on this page include ‘Energy Infobooks’ on energy types (biomass, geothermal, uranium, coal, electricity, wind, and gas) which include downloadable teacher guides and class activities for all grade levels. There is also a section on teaching about transportation which includes materials on alternative fuels.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
This U.S. Department of Energy site provides access to more than 600 links and 80,000 documents about renewable energy and energy efficient technologies, including such topics as: bioenergy, hydrogen, power from the oceans, and wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroenergy. Specialized resources include a collection of links to educational and training resources on energy, and a weekly newsletter covering news and events, new sites on EREN, and energy facts and tips.
Power Profiler – How clean is the electricity I use? (U.S. EPA site)
This site has an application where the user can put in their zip code and this application will determine the power grid region based on the zip code and electric utility. The application then compares the fuel mix and air emission rates of the electricity in that region to the national average. It also determines the air emissions impacts of electricity use in the users home or business.
Environmental Education Frameworks and Data Instrument Resources
MEERA – My Environmental Education Evaluation Resource Assistant
The primary purpose of this site is to provide tools to evaluate EE programs. There are quite a few EE surveys and instruments on this Web site.
Essential Principles of Ocean Literacy [NMEA]
Environmental Education Materials: Guidelines for Excellence Workbook Bridging Theory & Practice[NAAEE]
Comprehensive Environmental Education Websites
EPA Environmental Education Center
This site is developed both formal and non-formal educators who wish to teach about the environment. It offers background information on a variety of topics, lesson plans, and activities that work in and out of the classroom. It contains information on workshops, conferences, grants, awards and a variety of other information and resources.
The Bridge – Sea Grant Ocean Sciences Education Center
Extensive marine sciences and education resource center supported by Sea Grant and NMEA.
LEO EnviroSci Inquiry
LEO EnviroSci Inquiry Website is a K-12 outreach project from LEO – the Lehigh Earth Observatory at Lehigh University. Curricular activities emphasize student-directed scientific discovery of their local environment and the study of environmental issues.
Environmental Literacy and Inquiry Land Use Change Curriculum
The investigations in this curriculum begin with an examination of the spatial and environmental aspects of a shopping mall in Huntsville, Alabama. Students investigate how shopping malls change natural environments and alter its immediate surroundings to understand concepts involved in the formation of urban heat islands. Next, comes a study of Atlanta’s urban heat island and the consequences of urban deforestation. Students learn how communities can use certain heat island reduction strategies to reduce the impact of an urban heat island effect. They also interpret land use maps of the greater Atlanta area to understand environmental issues that are typically associated with sprawl. In the culminating activity, students recommend a plan for locating a new Wal-Mart Supercenter in a metropolitan area to have minimal impact on the environment. They develop a proposal to apply “smart growth” principles to their planning decisions and communicate their plan in a simulated planning commission meeting.
Curricular Activities and Instructional Resources
The GLOBE Program
The GLOBE (Global learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) Program is a world-wide network of students, teachers and scientists engaged in a tele-collaboration project to do meaningful real-life science. In the GLOBE Program, students make environmental observations and report their data findings on the Internet. The measurements conducted by the students include air temperature, cloud observations, precipitation, surface water temperature and pH, soil moisture, biometrics, land cover assessment, and species identification. Student collected data is displayed in interactive maps.
Abandoned Mine Drainage in Pennsylvania
Abandoned Mine Drainage in Pennsylvania is a science-technology-society (STS) role playing debate simulation. In this activity, learners investigate the abandoned mine drainage (AMD) issue from differing perspectives. In their investigation, they identify AMD problems, search for a solution, evaluate options, and decide on a course of action to treat and clean up AMD in Pennsylvania.
Sprawl in the Lehigh River Watershed
This activity uses Web-based GIS maps to explore sprawl in the Lehigh River watershed. Learners are introduced to sprawl and its effects on human and environmental health. GIS maps are used to study patterns of land use and population centers. Learners form their own opinions and decide on best practice solutions to land use problems and explore some of the options that landowners have today as a result of changing practices.
Stockertown Sinkhole Dilemma
Stockertown Sinkhole Dilemma is a science-technology-society (STS) role playing debate simulation. In this activity, learners investigate the Stockertown sinkhole issue from differing perspectives. In their investigation, they identify sinkhole causes, problems, decide who should be responsible for sinkhole repair and remediation, and determine what new policies should be created to protect the interest of homeowners.
Environmental Inquiry is a website and book series developed at Cornell University to enable students to conduct environmental science research. The goals are for students to: 1) develop research skills, 2) use these skills to design and conduct research projects focusing on relevant local environmental science topics, 3) participate in communities of fellow student scientists, and 4) enhance their understanding of scientific content and process.