Monday, April 23, 2012

Four Maryland Schools recognized as National Green Ribbon Schools

Four Maryland Schools achieved national recognition as National Green Ribbon Schools: Dunloggin Middle School, Ellicott City; Francis Scott Key Middle School, Silver Spring; Folger McKinsey Elementary School, Severna Park; and Lucy School,Middletown. Congratulations to All! Dunloggin Middle School has also been certified as a Maryland Green School since 2007. Folger McKinsey Elementary has been a certified Maryland Green School since 2006. The Maryland Green School Program is one of the oldest and most successful recognition programs in the U.S. From the USDE Press Release: Obama Administration Names 78 Schools in 29 States and D.C. as First-Ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Winners Represent a Diverse Portfolio of Schools, Includes 66 Public and 12 Private Schools in Urban and Rural Communities U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was joined today by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to announce the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, a list including 78 schools that span 29 states and D.C. “Science, environmental and outdoor education plays a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education, helping prepare them for the jobs of the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skillsets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.” U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a federal recognition program that opened in September 2011. Honored schools exercise a comprehensive approach to creating “green” environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with the 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy. "Schools that take a green approach cut costs on their utility bills, foster healthy and productive classrooms, and prepare students to thrive in the 21st century economy," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "These Green Ribbon School award winners are taking outstanding steps to educate tomorrow's environmental leaders, and demonstrating how sustainability and environmental awareness make sense for the health of our students and our country." The 78 awarded schools were named winners from among nearly 100 nominees submitted by 30 state education agencies, the District of Columbia and the Bureau of Indian Education. More than 350 schools completed applications to their state education agencies. Among the list of winners are 66 public schools including 8 charters, and 12 private schools composed of 43 elementary, 31 middle and 26 high schools with around 50 percent representing high poverty schools. "These Green Ribbon Schools are giving students and educators what they need to maximize learning and minimize risks like asthma and other respiratory illnesses, ensuring that no child is burdened by pollution in or around their school," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Today's winners are protecting our children's health and opening up environmental education opportunities for students. The EPA is proud to help recognize the Green Ribbon award winners and will continue working to improve the environment of our nation’s schools and helping prepare students to succeed in the emerging green economy.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Need a Tree???

The Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS) is pleased to announce the opening of its spring BigTrees Sale. Recognizing the importance of BigTrees for stormwater management, erosion control, carbon sequestration, energy savings, and wildlife habitat provision, EPS is offering a wide selection of native Mid-Atlantic shade trees grown in the county's own reforestation nursery.

This spring, you can order your BigTrees online at If you aren't sure which BigTree is right for your yard, business, church, etc., information on each species' preferred habitat is available on the website. You do not need to be a Baltimore County resident to order BigTrees.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Education Week Story: Informal Science helps meet STEM Goals

Governors Urged to Tap Into 'Informal' Science Education
By Erik Robelen on April 4, 2012 12:07 PM

In a new issue brief, the National Governors Association identifies science learning outside the classroom—often called "informal science education"—as a frequently overlooked vehicle for helping states advance their STEM goals.

The document urges governors to "explicitly" include informal science education on their action agenda to improve STEM learning among young people and have representatives from informal science institutions (such as museums and zoos) be a part of state STEM advisory councils.

"Informal science education extends student learning beyond the classroom through hands-on activities that let youth discover and practice STEM concepts," the NGA brief says.

Opportunities for such "informal" learning come through a variety of venues and activities, such as science centers and museums, zoos, robotics and rocketry clubs, online games, and science competitions, to name a few.

The NGA brief identifies some additional actions for states, including:

• Continue to support quality informal science programs in the state, such as those offered by museums and science centers;

• Encourage school districts to support more project-based STEM learning in after-school environments; and

• Encourage the governor's STEM council or state education agency to oversee the creation of an online catalog of informal science activities offered throughout the state and a compendium of program evaluations.

Last year, EdWeek published a special report, Science Learning Outside the Classroom, in which we examined what informal science education looks like in practice, what we know about its impact, its potential, and the challenges it faces to have a broader reach. We found that the field is gaining broader recognition for its role in helping young people acquire scientific knowledge and skills. (One of the most notable examples is a major report from the National Research Council issued in 2009, which noted that "beyond the schoolhouse door, opportunities for science learning abound.")

(Our report on informal science education was supported in part by a grant from the Noyce Foundation, which also underwrote the new NGA brief.)

The NGA issue brief suggests that "informal science offers states a powerful, low-cost way to help achieve the goals of an overall STEM strategy." It notes that most quality programs "involve little if any direct state funding and do not compete with other state education dollars or classroom time." (That said, many advocates for informal science education argue that additional funding is critical to help expand the influence and reach of their work. After all, somebody has to pay the bills for these programs and institutions.)

The brief argues that a key challenge is that many states fail to recognize and promote the role informal science learning activities can play in "buttressing" other state activities in STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

"Thus, the state may be adopting more rigorous math and science standards, and providing more rigorous preparation for STEM students, while not taking full advantage of after-school programs or teacher professional-development opportunities provided through informal science institutions," the report says. "As a result, school districts engage with the informal science community in a patchwork fashion, with robust activities in some areas and none in others."

Math and Science ,
State initiatives