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Citizen Engineers

Haitians walks past earthquake damageWhen Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010, Notre Dame engineering researchers created an online system that let students review hundreds of photos and reliably classify the structural damage. The effort is just one example of how “citizen engineers” and “citizen scientists” are advancing research in areas from astronomy to air pollution to penguins. Even snowflakes!

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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 Biosolarization: Sustainable Weed Killer

seedlingIn this three-part activity, students in grades 5 to 7 act as agricultural engineers, learning about and testing the effectiveness of a sustainable pest-control technique that uses organic waste and sunlight rather than toxic chemicals to reduce weeds.

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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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Greening STEM Grants for Educators

USFWS environmental educationWhether it’s a school garden or national park, the natural world offers a great way to encourage inquiry and STEM learning. To support the integration of Greening STEM into current or new programs, the National Environmental Education Foundation is offering grants of up to $1,000 to teachers, after-school programs, and nature organizations. Apply by April 5, 2016.

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Environmental Youth Leadership Council Forming

EarthEcho International logoAre you passionate about the environment and between the ages of 15 and 22? EarthEcho International, a nonprofit environmental education group founded by the grandchildren of legendary underwater explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau, seeks 15 individuals to serve on its first Youth Leadership Council. Apply by December 31, 2015.

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Energy Literacy Videos

Energy Literacy From weather patterns and food supplies to society’s daily electricity needs, energy drives everything. The U.S. Department of Energy’s new energy literacy video series highlights the seven principles that demonstrate energy’s role across the natural and social sciences, and is part of a broader set of education resources, lessons, and activities maintained by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

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SciJinks for Kids: Wild Weather

SciJinks volcanoFrom tidal curiosities and solar flares to bad weather jokes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s SciJinks website offers a wealth of resources for learning and teaching about Earth’s climate and geography.

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Report: Improving STEM Education

Kids doing STEM activityWant to improve the quality of STEM education? AdvancED devotes its entire Spring 2015 issue to the subject. Articles range from narrowing the STEM achievement gap to 3-D virtual learning to explicitly teaching engineering.

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