K-12 teachers in an SJSU classroom for professional training

Sustainability Education Pilot Project Receives $71,000 Grant

K-12 teachers in an SJSU classroom for professional training

The effort will build on SJSU’s Bay Area Earth Science Institute, which offers a comprehensive, year-round professional development program for teachers of grades 4-12 (Elena Polanco photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Improving the sustainability literacy of California’s 450,000 sixth graders is the goal of a new pilot project uniting SJSU and Creative Change Educational Solutions, a national leader in sustainability education.

This effort will also form a network of teacher education faculty members from SJSU and CSU East Bay. They will develop a sustainability lens for teachers of grades K-8.

The California Alliance for Sustainability will be funded by a $71,333 grant from the the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation.

Professor of Geology Ellen Metzger will be the principal investigator. Assistant Professor of Education Grinell Smith, science education coordinator for elementary education, will be the co-principal investigator.

Over 20 in-service teachers and education faculty members from SJSU and California State University East Bay will participate in summer workshops. Then they will receive follow-up support as they significantly re-frame their instructional units and university courses using a sustainability lens, one that expands environmental education to include issues of social equity and economic sustainability.

Metzger and her colleagues will focus on sixth grade science standards, investigating and addressing barriers to implementing educating for sustainability in real classrooms.

Chevron provided $5,000 in seed funding for the project. The effort will build on Metzger’s role as director of SJSU’s Bay Area Earth Science Institute. Now in its 21st year, BAESI offers a comprehensive, year-round professional development program for teachers of grades 4-12.

K-12 teachers in an SJSU classroom for professional training

Teachers Try New Ways to Engage Students in the Earth Sciences at BAESI

teacher using a straw to move goldfish crackers from place to place

At BAESI, teachers work in groups to try classroom activities before their students do. In this simulated “fishing” game, teachers explore depletion of shared resources (photo by Elena Polanco).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Where do teachers go during the summer? SJSU!

More than 30 elementary, middle and high school teachers hit Duncan Hall July 26-28 for “Earth Science, Society, and Sustainability.”

The group also included educators from the California Academy of Sciences and Literacy for Environmental Justice.

SJSU’s Bay Area Earth Science Institute hosted the gathering, which was funded by a grant from Intel.

Now in its 21st year, BAESI offers a comprehensive, year-round professional development program for teachers of grades 4-12.

In reality, this means gathering in a college classroom surrounded by tools of the trade from globes to fossils to the periodic table to share the latest on all sorts of earth science topics from energy and water resources to climate change.

It’s a two-way conversation at all times, with workshop leaders setting the agenda, but participants taking the floor to discuss classroom experiences.

Los Gatos High School science teacher Roozbeh Nazari, now in his fifth summer of learning with BAESI, especially appreciates the opportunity to “pilot out” lesson plans, meaning teachers work in groups to try projects before their students do.

“This is super helpful to me,” Nazari said. “These workshops are a great source of background science knowledge, reinforcing what I know as well as sharing what’s new.”

After graduating from Humboldt State with a bachelor’s in environmental science, Nazari settled into a teaching career that this fall will include his first year instructing a sustainable agriculture class.

Labs include work in a campus garden growing veggies and ornamentals, making BAESI’s current emphasis on sustainability and climate science a big plus.

This summer’s workshop was offered in collaboration with Michigan-based Creative Change Education Solutions, a national leader in sustainability education.

Instructors include SJSU Professor of Geology Ellen Metzger and Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science Eugene Cordero.

What’s next for this dynamic duo? More BAESI workshops of course, plus a new pilot project involving the Green Ninja, a climate-action superhero who fights global warming by inspiring personal action.

Metzger, Cordero and colleagues recently received a $386,000 NASA grant for “Improving Sixth Grade Climate Literacy using New Media and Teacher Professional Development.”

The funds will be used to expand and publicize the Green Ninja series that Cordero created in collaboration with SJSU’s film and animation faculty and students.

Like BAESI, the Green Ninja aims to reach middle school students with news and info on climate change and sustainability.

So stay tuned, and check the Green Ninja website to follow the action!