National Environmental Education Week

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

I can remember the first time I connected my classroom science lesson to real life. I had baked a cake from scratch all by myself and the smell of chocolate filled the air as I eagerly awaited the ding of the kitchen timer. However upon opening the oven door, I discovered the cake had not risen at all. I held up a picture of what the cake was supposed to look like and exclaimed that this was totally unfair. Then my mom pointed to the forgotten ingredient: baking soda. It wasn’t unfair, it was chemistry!

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Science helps explain things that seem like such a mystery at first. That’s why I really like this year’s theme for National Environmental Education Week — Surrounded by Science.

National Environmental Education Week is the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education. It is held each spring around the time of Earth Day and inspires environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. Environmental education helps increase students’ awareness and knowledge about environmental issues or problems. In doing so, it provides them with the necessary skills to make informed decisions and take responsible action.

This year’s Environmental Education Week theme is looking at how science can help us better understand the natural world. We use science at EPA to do just that — it provides the foundation for decisions and actions taken to protect our environment and our health.

Through the scientific process, we observe, test, analyze and advance our knowledge of the world. Through environmental education, we can bring learning to life and show how environmental science is a part of our daily lives.

Environmental education is very important to us at EPA. Through our grants program, we award up to $3.5 million each year to school districts, local governments, universities, tribal education programs and other partners to support projects promoting awareness, stewardship and skill building.

So whether you are supporting the climate leaders of the future or the inventor of the next cronut, there are plenty of ways to celebrate environmental education and science this week:

  • Join a national network of educators dedicated to increasing the environmental literacy of K-12 students by registering for National Environmental Education Week here (it’s free!).
  • Check out these hands-on activities for teachers and others to use in the classroom and other educational settings that EPA researchers have developed
  • Ask an EPA scientist about environmental science and see it featured on our blog. Email your question to AskanEPAscientist@epa.gov and I’ll find an answer for you!

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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