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Flipside Science: Environmental Literacy

Flipside ScienceFlipside Science is a youth-produced educational video series developed by teachers and the California Academy of Science that tackles complex environmental engineering topics and empowers middle school students to make a difference.

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Snowflake Chronicler

William Bentley snowflake imageNo two snowflakes are alike, right? We know this thanks to a Jericho, Vermont, farm boy and citizen engineer named Wilson A. Bentley, who adapted a microscope to a camera and spent 40 years capturing thousands of unique images.

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Lesson: Map the Green Space

A City Garden in ChicagoStudents in grades 5-9 learn about urban planning as they assess the environmental health of their community, taking a walk around their neighborhood. They construct a map that identifies both positive and negative features and then recommend improvements.

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Soil Whisperer

Amy Kaleita in fieldFrom the air or highway, America’s fruited plains present a uniform vista of vast abundance. Not to Amy Kaleita. The associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University sees a “somewhat chaotic” array of micro-plots, each with unique hydrology, root depths, soil characteristics – all of them ripe opportunities for smart technology to enhance both sustainability and food production using “precision conservation.”

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Engineer Girl Essay Contest

endangered black footed ferret“Engineering and Animals” is the theme for the National Academy of Engineering’s 2017 EngineerGirl! Essay Contest. Students in grades 3 to 12 are asked to choose an endangered animal – like this black-footed ferret – and consider how engineering might improve life for that species. Submissions are due Feb. 1, 2017.

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Every Kid in a Park

Every Kid in a Park New Melones LakeTo celebrate its 100th birthday and engage the next century’s environmentalists, the National Park Service is opening parks to 4th graders and their teachers and parents for free. Every Kid in a Park includes trip planning tools and teacher activity guides. No time or funds for field trips? Take a virtual tour of the Grand Canyon or explore resources for teaching history to citizen science.

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Brazil’s Olympic Designs

imaginary stadium with light beamsAs host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil has had to tap engineering expertise for everything from stadium construction to pollution control to security systems in order to receive an estimated 15,000 athletes and half a million foreign visitors. Despite the country’s economic woes, zika virus concerns, and construction delays, the games will go on… though probably not without some hitches.

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Trash Sliders

Trash sliders at 2015 ASEE K12 workshopIn this activity, teams of middle school students express their creativity while learning the fundamentals of engineering design, sustainability, and the basic physics of forces and motion by building a vehicle out of recycled trash that is capable of transporting liquid over rough terrain with as little spillage as possible.

Note: This activity can be scaled for high school or upper elementary students.

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Hidden Wealth in Food Waste?

Union Market composting garbageThe world wastes 1.4 billion tons of food annually, with the average American chucking out 250 pounds’ worth. Designers, engineers, and even restaurants are shrinking that global garbage heap with innovations ranging from “smart” food packaging to urban composting.

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