The Green STEM Initiative
Connecting students' curiosity about the natural world with innovation in STEM
The need for workers with STEM skills is heightened in today's global economy. Technological innovation improves the competitive position of U.S. industries, drives growth, and supports high quality jobs. Additionally, demand for STEM-capable workers has increased even in traditionally non-STEM fields due to the diffusion of technology across industries and occupations. Technological progress can improve workers' quality of life by improving working conditions and increasing wages. However, for workers to benefit from the economic gains generated by innovation they must have the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively in jobs requiring STEM competencies. Improving access to quality STEM education will strengthen the caliber of the U.S. workforce, drive economic growth, and keep the U.S. competitive.1
There is significant evidence that environment-based education can become a significant part of the STEM solution.2 The National Wildlife Federation refers to it as Green STEM. Green STEM is built upon a body of research that consistently shows that students who are engaged in environment-based subjects in school will out-perform students who are not participating in environmental programs. Moreover, they will be more interested in and enthusiastic about learning science, technology, engineering and math.
The STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) play an important role in the development of the whole student. Educating students in STEM fields is critical to our nation's success and most importantly to the National Wildlife Federation, whose mission is to inspire Americans to protect the environment for our children's future.
To meet the goal of fostering STEM understanding, we must rethink how we prepare our pre-service teachers and how we engage, motivate, and promote STEM to our K-12 students. Eco-Schools USA is positioned to provide teachers and students with STEM opportunities through the lens of sustainability.
The arts play a vital role in the creative processes of the brain. Through creativity, innovation is born. Music and the visual arts are heavily grounded in mathematical and physical principles, and areas such as film, radio, television and computer gaming are only possible through implementation of engineering principles and technology.3
There are many role models in STEM who have training in or an appreciation for the arts, including:
Alan Bean - Astronaut and artist
Mayim Bialik - Neuroscientist and actress
Bill Nye - Mechanical engineer, inventor, comedian and author
Albert Einstein - Theoretical physicist and violinist
2National Wildlife Federation. Green Schools and Environment-Based Education, The Academic and Developmental Benefits: NWF Research Literature Review – Kevin J. Coyle, JD, July 2015.