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Feature: Pioneer of Green Learning

Mike TownMike Town has worked in steel factories and forests, tricked out a “green” house, persuaded legislators to save the wilderness, and started a student-run “Cool Schools” energy audit, saving his district $30,000 a year. Now, the Redmond, Wash., teacher is turning an environmentalist’s eye toward federal STEM education policy.

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Lesson Plan: Pollution in Our Watershed

Pollution in WatersheadBy building a simple watershed with paper and markers, students will understand how pollution accumulates in our water sources, especially from pesticides used in agriculture, and what constitutes a watershed.

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Earth Day 2011

recycle2For more than 40 years, Earth Day — April 22 — has been inspiring individuals and communities to protect the planet. For 2011, Earth Day Network, the world’s largest environmental advocacy group, hopes to mobilize 1 billion “Acts of Green.”

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Tennessee Bill Seen as a Challenge to Evolution

EvolutionBritish naturalist Charles Darwin knew his theory of natural selection was controversial. Still, even he might be nonplussed at the uproar over teaching evolution. Last week, Tennessee’s House of Representatives approved a bill that encourages science teachers to explore controversial topics without fear of reprisal. Critics contend the measure will let K-12 teachers present intelligent design and creationism as acceptable alternatives to evolution.

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Online Classes: Quantity v. Quality

Cartoon ComputerMore than 1 million K-12 students take online courses. Advocates say Web-based make-up classes and other offerings allow students to take a richer menu of electives and Advanced Placement courses. Critics call them an effort by school districts to shave costs on buildings and teachers.

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Elementary School Principal Saves Students from Tsunami

NakahamaA Japanese elementary school principal’s quick thinking saved his students’ lives after March 11’s colossal tsunami hit their school building. He immediately called the first- and second-graders who were playing outside into the school before guiding a total of 90 people — students, teachers and residents — onto the top of the two-story school building.

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1, 2, Robot Hands Please Tie My Shoe

ShoelacesIn this activity, students will explore how sensing is part of robotics by tying their shoes with different constraints. After lacing their shoes normally, try it wearing thick gloves or with popsicle sticks taped to fingers so they can’t bend. Can students tie their shoes now? A connection is made to the limitations of the motion of robots, and to the role of design in allowing robots to perform different functions.

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Mars Rover Races

RoverIn this activity, students will learn the challenges of operating a robotic rover on the distant Red Planet and solve problems through a hands-on simulation. After trying to navigate an obstacle course blindfolded and guided only by verbal commands, students will discover that tooling around Mars is no simple joy-stick ride.

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Don’t Weaken Law, Advocates Urge

Student RunningCivil rights, business, and education advocates are urging Congress and the Obama administration not to undermine a key portion of the No Child Left Behind Act in their quest to make the law more flexible—a move they fear will shortchange minority students and other historically overlooked groups in the process.

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