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

 

BIRMINGHAM CHILDREN : NEW OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD FROM ‘NAEE’

Many Birmingham school children are being denied the opportunity to experience learning about their
environment due to school funding cuts. Schools report finding it increasingly difficult to find money within their budgets to take classes out to Environmental Education Centres where charges have risen recently due to cuts from local authority funding.

The National Association for Environmental Education (NAEE) is now stepping in to help schools by providing bursaries to enable these key activities to continue within the city.

A local Birmingham family, with a long history of supporting education in the area, is concerned that city children should not be deprived of the opportunity to experience a more natural environment away from the city streets. They have awarded NAEE funding from the Kenrick Trust to enable pupils from nine schools annually to visit Environmental Education Centres, covering all costs involved. These visits will give our young citizens the opportunity to learn and understand about the natural world,
leading to fostering more responsible and caring attitudes.
The Hugh Kenrick Days was launched on Monday 14th May.
Lozells Primary School and St. Paul’s School, Balsall Heath, are amongst the first to benefit from this much needed project. Lozells Primary will be visiting Bell Heath Education Centre, run
by Birmingham City Council.

Earth Hour Reflections

I celebrated Earth Hour for the first time at the RIBI assembly dinner on 31st March: the lights were switched off and hundreds of candles illuminated the area. This was my first experience to a beautifully simple idea that has become a massive global phenomenon, which has successfully united an extraordinary number of people across the globe. This simple symbiotic act carries a huge environmental message.

Hundreds of millions take time to switch off their lights for an hour on the last Saturday in March as they are driven by the thought of positive action to help tackle climate change and protect the natural world from the impacts of our ever consuming lifestyles. This is fantastic and inspiring and NAEE encourages people to go beyond just the hour and extend energy saving that can make such a difference into their daily lives.

The way we live has impacts that we can not always determine or haven’t yet experienced: these can range from weather changes such as droughts and flooding to food shortages, loss of species and deforestation. So, Earth Hour is not just about saving electricity, it is much greater than that. It is about realising that the actions we take; to the energy we use; the food we eat and the water we drink – all have an effect on our planet.

We all depend on our amazing world and need to care and look after it, not just for an hour, but for every single day of the year.

The analysis after tracking the total electricity demand during the day and comparing it with the corresponding profile of previous Saturdays in the UK showed that there was indeed a significant reduction in the mid evening peak when people often switch lights on. Overall, this translated to a massive saving of around 2,850 tonnes of CO2, an impressive figure

WWF reported that hundreds of millions of people in a record 150 countries and 6,434 towns and cities across the world took part to show they care about our brilliant planet. In the UK, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Clifton Suspension Bridge, HMS Victory, Edinburgh Castle, Parliament Building in Northern Ireland and the Welsh Assembly were just a few of the landmarks that took part.

Communities across the country also ran local events and thousands took part making this year’s Earth Hour the biggest yet, with an estimated 20,000 visitors per minute on its youtube channel and by the time the switch off had reached South Asia, Earth Hour was trending on twitter.

Gabrielle Back, CoChair, NAEE.

Minibeast art competition with Nature Detectives

Get inspired by brilliant bugs and

create a marvellous mini-beast masterpiece!

Great prizes up for grabs in Nature Detectives‘ national
art competition for children, schools and
groups in the UK.

Prizes

 

trophiesBrilliant minibeast-themed goodies up
for grabs.

Butterfly houses, bug magnifiers, nature
detectives CLUB membership and I-Spy
in the Countryside
 books.

 

How to enter

  • Print a minibeast colouring outline
  • Transform it with colour, pattern and texture
  • Print an entry ticket and fill in your details
  • Post both bits to us by 29th August 2012
    (one entry per class/group)

Full details – click here http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/art/

Posted by Henricus Peters, Managing editor

GET OUTSIDE! The United States celebrates ‘National Parks Week’ …. and its ‘Arbor Day’

This week in the United States it’s time to celebrate all things green and leafy with it being both National Park Week and Arbor Day this coming Friday.

Read more here  

Posted by Henricus Peters, NAEE Co-chair