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Improving Academics by Connecting to the Environment





Planet Bee is proud to educate and engage students with lessons centered around the importance of bees and the role they play in our food systems and ecosystems. Lessons like ours, are only one way to get kids involved in environmental education, which builds a foundation of transferrable academic skills that will carry forward in academic and life pursuits. Whether students choose a STEM career or a different path, a connection to the environment will provide them with skills to lead them.


Environmental education lessons can span a wide variety of subjects and skills, which make them beneficial for academic performance as a whole. For example, lessons about bees and plants can help teach students about the complexities of ecology, agriculture, and the role of bees in these practices, lessons about water quality can encompass chemistry and physics, and lessons about animal and plant interactions can be centered around biology. Environmental policy and law is also an important aspect of environmental education, as it can help teach kids about how the government functions in regard to environmental issues. Examining environmental policy can also help students develop analysis skills as well as learn how to synthesize information and write persuasively.

In a review of several studies about environmental education done by Stanford University, researchers found that through environmental education, students gained knowledge about the environment, math, chemistry, biology, and ecology. They also observed improvements in students’ reading and writing. Since environmental education is relevant to real world problems, learning about these issues and confronting them in the classroom can help students better understand scientific processes and perform the scientific method (NEEF).



Along with keeping kids engaged, exposing students to environmental education can also incite environmental passion, increase motivation to learn, and encourage future careers in STEM. Students are more likely to pursue STEM careers when they are exposed to fieldwork and scientific-problem solving skills, two activities encapsulated in these lessons (NEEF). A student interested in pursuing an environmentally-centered or an environmental STEM-based career could look into a sustainability position at a corporation, environmental nonprofits, a job within the EPA, and many more options. Learning about these possibilities in a classroom setting can spark interest in students, and both students and teachers reported that environmental education lessons were enjoyable and motivational (Stanford University).


Environmental education can also help students develop personal growth. Stanford researchers found that environmental education taught students about personal responsibility, decision-making, and leadership, and also promoted civic engagement as well as being active in the community (Stanford University). Part of what civic engagement entails includes adopting sustainable behaviors which benefit the environment. Through these lessons, students are able to learn to put aside personal interests and instead tend to the environment, prioritizing nature above consumerism. Above all else, environmental education is crucial because it helps students connect with nature and develop a sense of overall empathy (NEEF).


Implementing environmental education in classrooms will help future generations develop sustainable behaviors and this in turn will help nature heal from the damage humans have caused. These lessons will help students become more empathetic and passionate as well as help them hone their creative-thinking and problem-solving skills. The benefits of environmental education are too many to count. It is Planet Bee’s goal to use environmental education to teach and nurture the next generation of environmental engineers, sustainability chairs, urban planners, and national park rangers. Our future rests in their hands!


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Written by Simona Shur, Lehigh University


Sources


https://naaee.org/eepro/research/eeworks/student-outcomes Stanford analysis reveals a wide array of benefits from environmental education. (n.d.). Retrieved August 19, 2021, from https://cdn.naaee.org/sites/default/files/eeworks/files/k-12_student_key_findings.pdf


https://www.neefusa.org/education/benefits Benefits of Environmental Education. (n.d.). NEEF. Retrieved August 19, 2021

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