Engage Students in STEM Learning with Biomimicry

Workshop to Be Held in Findhorn, Scotland

Prince Charles says of biomimicry:
“…the emerging discipline of biomimicry puts what zoologists and biologists know about natural systems together with the problems engineers and architects are trying to solve, in order to produce technology that mimics how Nature operates.”

Learn about biomimicry, and how to teach it, while exploring five habitats in coastal northeast Scotland. Join Biomimicry 3.8 Institute for a weeklong Biomimicry Educator Training Workshop, August 25–31, 2012, hosted at Findhorn College, the educational arm of the famous Findhorn Ecovillage.

Biomimicry is a design discipline, a branch of science, a problem-solving method, a sustainability ethos, a movement, a stance toward nature, and a new way of viewing and valuing biodiversity. At its most practical, biomimicry is a way of seeking sustainable solutions by borrowing life’s blueprints, chemical recipes, and ecosystem strategies.  At its most transformative, it brings us into right relation with the rest of the natural world, as students learning to be a welcome species on this planet.

Biomimicry’s sensible, eco-friendly approach to design has tremendous appeal for both educators and students. Designed to meet the interests and needs of k-12, university, and informal educators, the Biomimicry Educator Training Workshop offers instruction in the fundamentals of biomimicry, an introduction to Life’s Principles, and communication strategies for sharing biomimicry with students of any age. Participants will learn from local plants, animals, and ecosystems while exploring tidal bays, rivers, forests, and heather dunelands on the fringe of the Scottish highlands. They will return home with a plan for incorporating biomimicry education into their own curricula and programs as well as a toolkit of supporting resources. Register today for this innovative and inspiring program at biomimicry.net/findhorn

The Biomimicry 3.8 Institute focuses on supporting educators and encouraging them, and their students, to work collaboratively and consciously to bring innovative and sustainable designs to fruition using biomimicry principles.

Ali Solomon, Biomimicry 3.8 Institute

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Campaigning For Environmental Education

 

The ingredients of the curriculum – what goes in and what does not – are being hotly debated at the moment regarding Environmental Education. NAEE is part of this debate, but we need to ensure our advice is ready to roll out, when the Curriculum Reviews are complete.

Here are my thoughts on this debate, I hope it stimulates thought and discussion, and get in touch if you have any comments for us about it.

  • What do we mean by ‘environmental education’?
  • What should ‘environmental education’ look like?
  • How is it similar/different from pure science/geography?
  • How do teachers include it in an already-busy timetable?

We aim to produce a series of key ideas and transform these into short pieces, which will then become part of a NAEE Environmental Education Paper policy with exemplars.

…………………..

NAEE is a key player in promoting Environmental Education (EE) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to be part of/a major theme within school curriculum.

As executive member and former EE advisor Sue Fenoughty points out:

“This definitely seems to be the moment when we must act, as in this article from the Guardian, it says there are going to be major changes to science studies under the reforms for the national curriculum with the Science curriculum expected to ’emphasise using the natural habitat around schools – learning biology by studying the growth and development of trees, for example’ – so, in other words, much more emphasis on using the local environment. (environmental education). The article mention that the science curriculum in Japan has at its core the love of nature … and, as we know, you can’t develop a love of nature unless you’ve been out in a natural environment.”

The new programmes of study are being published for consultation this week, and are to be introduced in schools in September 2014, so not far away.

Yes, it’s all ‘up in the air’ and no-one knows where it will end up. And yes, it’s confusing and frustrating in the meantime. But also, yes, NAEE will have some key concrete ideas to present – intelligent responses and exemplars to the questions when they come along.

Henricus Peters, NAEE CoChair

 

Empty Classroom Day – Taking Learning Outdoors!

Friday 6th July 2012 marks the Empty Classroom Day, a day where pupils will head outside to learn, and we would like you to join us! This exciting initiative seeks to uniquely tackle recent concerns, from both the National Trust and Natural England, that children are suffering from ‘nature deficit disorder’ and that there is an ‘extinction of experience’ when engaging with the natural environment.

The Empty Classroom Day is happening right across the UK, but was created by a collection of organisations who met at the London Sustainable Schools Forum (LSSF), all supporting learning outside the classroom, school grounds and growing. The day was developed to help schools benefit from outdoor learning and share their best practice with other schools.

Schools are signing up to support outdoor learning and to show that one class will be learning outside for one lesson on Friday 6th July. Pupils will be:

  • Doing their maths lesson in the playground
  • Making art on city farms
  • Doing bug hunts at nature reserves
  • Running races for school sports days
  • Bird watching in their playgrounds
  • Writing stories in the local park
  • Following maps in Zoos
  • Weeding in the school vegetable patch.

What are the benefits?

Learning outside the classroom can be fun, memorable and healthy. Everyone benefits from learning outside:

  • Young people will get the chance to learn in new, more relevant and exciting ways – in particular these can benefit those who find classroom learning difficult
  • Teachers will be able to broaden and deepen their teaching skills and subject knowledge while working with more motivated pupils
  • The school can use these new approaches to raise achievement
  • The wider community can benefit through involvement in, for example, developing school gardens of all kinds, leading to a wider understanding of issues such as healthy eating, sustainability and caring for the environment.

How does my school join?

Schools can sign up to the event by following this link:

http://projectdirt.com/group/the-empty-classroom/page/signup

For those schools that have signed up there are special offers for visits, tours, treasure hunts and lots of activity packs with ideas for what your class can do in your school playground.

We hope you and your school can join us on this fantastic initiative and that we can take learning outdoors together!

– By Sarah Simmons, NAEE Member

Olympic-themed global literacy resource

The ‘Send my friend to school’ campaign is inviting UK pupils to ‘go for gold’ by taking part in its special Olympic-themed campaign to promote literacy in developing countries. The campaign includes a range of creative learning, campaigning and fun activities to engage the whole school during the summer term of 2012. Teachers can download a schools pack, which includes a teachers’ guide, story posters and links to online films. There’s also a whole host of other resources including comprehensive lesson plans, factsheets and the ‘Go for Gold’ game. http://www.sendmyfriend.org/