NASA and Eco-Schools USA Day 3 – Pathways to Success

NWF climate scientist Dr. Amanda Staudt and participants

On our third and final day at the NASA Goddard Visitor Center, we brought all the pieces together about what everyone had learned at the inaugural Climate Change Connections (CCC) professional development institute.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the final day for me was to watch the participating teachers make direct linkages between the Eco-Schools USA pathways and the lessons from the NASA CCC curriculum we’ve developed over the last few months.

The Eight Pathways of the Eco-Schools USA program
  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Climate Change
  4. Green Hour
  5. School Grounds
  6. Transportation
  7. Global Dimensions
  8. Consumption and waste

Seeing how the teachers from Boston, Austin, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., make the connections to the program pathways was great.  One educator sees that an energy audit can help engage their students in hands-on learning. Another teacher sees a way to tie in with her lessons the school’s plans for a green roof.  Finally, one educator has questions about what the district can do about school grounds in an urban school.

It is the process of making these connections to action that are important, and hearing how our audience will integrate the new curriculum into their current lesson plans is exciting. Our meetings this week were also about helping the Eco-Schools USA team better understand the challenges that teachers face, to help us better help them.

This week’s Climate Change Connections institute was our first shot at this professional development workshop. Through participant feedback, I’ve learned things that our team can constructively use to modify the program for the second institute, to be held next summer.

Lessons learned at the Climate Change Connections institute

I learned that we need to build in more time for participants to simply absorb the data, the curriculum, and talk amongst themselves. We also learned a lot about the logistics and timing of the institute that will enable us to make some significant changes to enhance the professional development program. The next few months will be critical for us to evaluate exactly what educators will do with the materials, tools, and resources that we’ve provided to them. Our goal is to work with the teachers to implement the new climate curriculum and the Eco-Schools USA program framework at their schools, and measure the progress over time.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to spend time with these amazing teachers – they have a tough but rewarding job to teach and mentor today’s youth to be tomorrow’s environmental stewards.

Eco-Schools USA is proud to feature NASA educational resources as part of the National Wildlife Federation program’s website.  Click here to access resources that educators and students can use to improve understanding of the Earth as an integrated system.