Children are our future businesspeople, policy makers, and educators. As such, during their careers and throughout their life, they will be the leaders making tough decisions on how to respond to extreme heat phenomenon, rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, and the increased presence of greenhouse gases, which could thrust our Earth into irreversible change if emissions are
not reduced drastically over the next few decades.
When evaluating the required Next Generation Science Standards for elementary school, these standards do not include environmental literacy or sustainability themes in either second, third, or fourth grades, with little mention via one standard in first, fifth, and sixth grades. Overall, the Next Generation Science Standards do not adequately prepare students for the sustainability problems of
the future nor do the standards help connect students to the natural environment by not connecting the standards to real world climate issues. Not educating students about sustainability topics in elementary school passes the responsibility off to higher grades with optional science classes, where this sustainability education could be missed altogether.
The Sustainability for Young Learners Courses were created to equip elementary school teachers with sustainability knowledge and resources to effectivity teach sustainability to their students. The Sustainability for Young Learners Courses infuse sustainability and environmental literacy Graduate Culminating Experience
Sharing Permissions Agreement into second through fifth grade science classes via the creation of detailed unit plans. Each course incorporates important sustainability themes into the required Next Generation Science Standards, to encourage teachers to adopt these unit plans without taking away limited class time to teach about sustainability. Rather than ending in doom and gloom, students finish each unit becoming the heroes of the story by creating their own solutions to combat climate change that they can implement into their own lives, communities, homes, and classroom.
Sustainability and climate related issues are already sweeping our Earth and the problem is likely going to accelerate as today's current elementary school students start their professional careers. Equipping young students with environmental literacy and sustainability knowledge can allow students to be ready to face real-world climate related issues in the future as well as today as these students serve as leaders within their communities and schools. By realizing the gap in the United States education system, the Sustainability for Young Learners courses is helping to create a more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable society through education and knowledge.
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