Inquiry-based Learning Experiences Focusing on Sustainability
Smithsonian Science for Global Goalsis a new, freely available curriculum that uses the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development as a framework to focus on sustainable actions to local problems, defined and implemented by students. The curriculum was developed to be region and grade-level agnostic so that any student between the ages of 8 and 17 will be able to engage in the material. Among the tentative topics are “Energy” (How do we balance energy and environmental concerns?), “Weather and People” (How do we balance economics and preparedness?), “Biotechnology and Humans” (How do we balance technology, actions, and ethics?), and “Access” (How do we balance support for individuals with special needs?). Students have the opportunity to learn firsthand from researchers who are working on these problems around the world. Students then engage in inquiry-based challenges in their local communities, considering the problems through multiple perspectives (social, ethical, economic, environmental). The modules are built on a rich storyline that begins with students creating an Identity Map and Defining the Problem, and ends with the development of an Action Plan. The program was developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center, along with the InterAcademy Partnership. The modules have been field-tested and reviewed by subject-matter experts, teachers, and students from around the world and are available in multiple languages.
It is never too early to encourage students to become problem-solvers. To identify a problem and use creativity to develop a solution is a lifelong skill that can be used in every facet of life. Inventing does just that. Learning about inventions in the past and understanding the process inventors go through to develop inventions helps students become critical thinkers and problem-solvers.
The National Park Service (NPS) helps teachers use the world’s first national park to bring science, mathematics, and social studies to life. Classrooms can connect with a Yellowstone National Park ranger to learn more about geology, ecology, or cultural history, and the National Park Service mission of preservation.