Earth Day 2021: Improving our planet one ITEST project at a time
Earth Day is a chance to bring awareness about the state of our planet and how we can improve it. The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, and inspired 20 million Americans to take to the streets to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development which had left a growing legacy of serious human health impacts. Since then, over 190 countries have engaged in action to bring long term awareness to focus areas such as climate change, science and education, people and communities, conservation and restoration, and plastic and pollution. The theme for this year’s earth day is Restore our Earth.
Through the Information Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) Program, students are provided the opportunity to experience and understand the importance of environmental research and sustainability. ITEST projects enable youth to investigate, explore and improve their communities and local environment. These authentic experiences allow them to see themselves working in STEM fields, encouraging them to pursue careers in the ever-expanding environmental workforce.
Below is a selection of ITEST publications, curriculum materials, instruments, and projects trying to advance the efforts to restore our earth.
Promoting Student Interest in Science and Science Careers through a Scalable Place-Based Environmental Educational Program at a Public Aquarium
The Detroit Public Schools will collaborate with the Belle Island Aquarium to develop a field-trip program that will enrich learning in biology, with cross-curricular impacts on chemistry, physics, business, literacy and the arts.
Promoting 21st Century Science Technology-Enhanced Learning Across Formal and Informal Environments
This project investigates the relationship between middle school students’ information technology skills, their success in an inquiry ocean science curriculum designed to target those skills, and their understanding of the new characteristics of 21st century science. It is concerned with the design of a curriculum and its impact on students of high compared with low digital literacy.
Watershed Awareness using Technology and Environmental Research for Sustainability (WATERS)
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase student motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by developing and testing a middle school science curriculum focusing on water and water-related career awareness.
Earth Partnership: Indigenous Arts and Sciences - Connecting STEM to Native Science
This project will engage students, educators, elders, informal educators, natural resource professionals, and parents in community dialogues and relationship building, informal-formal professional development collaborations, and indigenized STEM learning experiences and mentoring for students in grades 8-12.
Voices to Hear (V2H): Native American Youth Learning About Environmental Sciences, Related Careers and Engaging Their Communities through Podcasts
This project will use the oral tradition of storytelling to empower Native American students (middle school, high school and college) to engage in environmental decision-making and scientific communication, while building a stronger sense of their ethnic identity.
Engaging Secondary Students in Regionally Relevant Science Topics Through Videography
Middle and high school students from low-income backgrounds and other groups underrepresented in STEM fields will participate in a summer program and a school-year program to produce videos documenting the effects of environmental changes on their lives and communities.
Marine Technology for Teachers and Students (MaTTS)
Over 70 teachers, 1800 high school students and 900 middle school students in urban and suburban RI and CT districts during the course of the program will interact with cutting edge research technologies related to exploring the global ocean.
Broadening Interest in Geosciences, Habitat, and Technology among Girls
This project will build on high school Alaskan girls' general interest in biology and the natural environment to develop new interests in areas such as ecosystem dynamics, geophysical dynamics, and use of technologies, such as remote sensing.
The Arctic Climate Modeling Program: Professional Development for Rural Teachers
The Arctic Climate Modeling Program (ACMP) offered yearlong science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professional development to teachers in rural Alaska. Teacher training focused on introducing youth to workforce technologies used in Arctic research. Due to challenges in making professional development accessible to rural teachers, ACMP modified the traditional ITEST format, instead offering unique “curriculum resource-based professional development” that provided a year-round mix of training options for 165 teachers.
Middle Schoolers Out to Save the World (MSOSW) Curriculum
The Middle Schoolers Out to Save the World (MSOSW) curriculum uses data gathered by students to develop optimum scenarios for conserving energy and reducing the global production of greenhouse gases.
Socio-Environmental Science Investigations Using the Geospatial Curriculum Approach with Web Geospatial Information Systems
This project will develop, implement, and evaluate a series of innovative socio-environmental science investigations (SESI) using a geospatial curriculum approach with STEM-related mentoring that will provide economically disadvantaged students in the 9th grade of the Building 21 school in Allentown, PA with technology-rich geospatial learning experiences to develop STEM-related skills. Project is available at: https://eli.lehigh.edu/sesi
“You know you can do this, right?”: Developing geospatial technological pedagogical content knowledge (GS-TPACK) and enhancing teachers’ cartographic behaviors with Socio-Environmental Science Investigations (SESI).
Many barriers exist to K–12 classroom teachers’ adoption and implementation of geospatial technologies with their students. To address this circumstance, we have developed and implemented a geospatial curriculum approach to promote teachers’ professional growth with curriculum-linked professional development (PD) to support the adoption of socio-environmental science investigations (SESI) in an urban school environment that includes reluctant learners.
The Nature Relatedness Scale
Disconnection from the natural world may be contributing to our planet's destruction. The authors propose a new construct, Nature Relatedness (NR), and a scale that assesses the affective, cognitive, and experiential aspects of individuals' connection to nature. In Study 1, the authors explored the internal structure of the NR item responses in a sample of 831 participants using factor analysis. They tested the construct validity of NR with respect to an assortment of environmental and personality measures.
The Impact of Environmental Education on Sense of Place Among Urban Youth
Research suggests that an ecologically informed sense of place, including strong place attachment and ecological place meaning, contributes to pro-environmental behaviors. Yet it is unclear whether an intervention such as environmental education can intentionally influence sense of place, especially in cities. To investigate the impact of urban environmental education programs on sense of place, we used pre/post surveys of youth in 5-week environmental and non-environmental summer youth programs in the Bronx, New York City, in 2010.