ACNW Environmental Education News

November 6, 2014 

Dear Charter School Leaders, EE Contacts, Teachers, and Board Members,

This monthly newsletter is intended to provide access to ideas, funding resources, and training so that you’re better able to provide opportunities to instill a connection and commitment to the environment through experiential learning. In addition, we look forward to seeing you at the 2014 ACNW Charter School Leaders Retreat next week as we learn new ways to teach in, with, and about the environment in your core curricula.

Do you have insights to share? Are you doing something really cool related to EE at your school? Are you struggling to implement a certain aspect of your contractual goals? Let me know! I’d be delighted to highlight your successes, and happy to be a thought partner in tackling your challenges.


Erin E. Anderson
Environmental Education Evaluator
ACNW Charter School Division
43 Main Street SE, Suite 507
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 331-4181


In order to support its authorized schools in meeting its contractual EE goals, the Charter School Division is offering free teacher training. The session focuses specifically on creating place-based and nature-focused learning opportunities, even in schools where concrete abounds. Teachers will engage in model classroom activities that use objects as the basis for learning, and explore ways to build their own nature-based learning opportunities.

To learn more or to schedule training, please contact Erin.

To visit the Audubon Center, or to learn more about bringing a K-12 program to your school, please visit the Audubon Center of the North Woods.
The ACNW Leaders Retreat is fast approaching! As we did last year, the first day will focus on environmental education. Activities and discussion will be geared toward improving your school’s capacity to implement EE programming and increase environmental literacy in your students, staff, faculty, and families. As a reminder, you are required to send representation from your school to each day of this event, which includes the school’s EE contact.
The retreat will be held at the Audubon Center near Sandstone, beginning at 12:00 PM Thursday, November 13 through Friday, November 14 ending at 4:30 PM. To learn more, download the Draft Agenda.

Climate change is a big topic for most educators to tackle. It’s complex, it’s controversial, and it’s a critical issue of our time. Minnesota is at risk from climate change, too – water’s not only in our nickname, but plays a key role in our economy, recreation, and inspiration. Educators have the opportunity to help students acquire the knowledge, awareness, and skills of these issues in order to take action.
Climate change science is only one aspect of this human-induced phenomenon. In math class, students can graph changing temperatures over time, use algebra to calculate rising sea levels, and engineer solutions that will help humans to adapt to a changing climate. In social studies, students can use historic maps and current GIS data to explore how climate has impacted where humans live and what they do, while younger students can observe and measure the growing distances between ice floes as they melt and islands as the water level rises. In addition to an abundance of nonfiction books and articles about climate change, cli-fi (climate fiction) is a real genre with books and stories available for a wide range of reading levels for your school’s English/language arts classes (email me if you’d like some titles).
Climate change can even be a part of your music class! University of Minnesota undergraduate student Daniel Crawford is using music to communicate the latest in climate science. Drawing on a method called “data sonification” that converts global temperature records into a series of musical notes, Crawford composed a cello piece called, “A Song of Our Warming Planet.”
Crawford based his composition on surface temperature data from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. The temperature data were mapped over a range of three octaves, with the coldest year on record (–0.47 °C in 1909) set to the lowest note on the cello (open C). Each ascending halftone is equal to roughly 0.03°C of planetary warming. In Crawford’s composition, each note represents a year, ordered from 1880 to 2012. Low notes represent relatively cool years, while high notes signify relatively warm ones.
Crawford has released the score and sound files under a Creative Commons license.
Download the sheet music. Download the audio file. Watch a short video about Daniel and his composition.

The Donaldson Science Award is available to middle school and high School students of African American, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian descent who demonstrate passion and achievement in STEM. Finalists will receive up to $500.00 and a one-year membership to the Science Museum of Minnesota. Only Minnesota educators and STEM professionals are eligible to nominate a student(s) of their choice. The deadline to submit is November 10, 2014.

K-12 Teach the Planet Challenge, in partnership with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, is accepting submissions from K-12 teachers across the country for the Teach for the Planet Challenge. The program aims to support high-impact hands-on classroom projects that promote sustainability education. To participate in the challenge, teachers can submit their best sustainability projects on The Allen Family Foundation will match all donations to qualifying projects. Projects must demonstrate innovation in the way an environmental or sustainability lesson is taught. The match offer will stand until November 30, 2014, or until funding expires.
Grants to Connect Mathematics to Other Subject Areas (like EE!) for Grades 9-12 Teachers
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is accepting applications for its Connecting Mathematics to Other Subject Areas Grants for Grades 9-12 Teachers program, which supports high school classroom materials or lessons that connect mathematics to other fields. For 2015–16, grants of up to $4,000 will be awarded to persons currently teaching mathematics in grades 9-12. Materials may be in the form of books, visual displays, computer programs or displays, slide shows, videotapes, or other appropriate media. The focus of these materials should be on showing the connectivity of mathematics to other fields or to the world around us. The application packet must be postmarked November 7, 2014.
Walmart Foundation Community Grant Program
The Walmart Foundation is accepting applications through its Community Grant Program. Through the program, grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded to local nonprofit organizations within the service area of individual Walmart stores in support of initiatives in the areas of hunger relief and healthy eating, sustainability, women's economic empowerment, and/or career opportunities. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2014.
EE Mission Match Funds
ACNW is offering up to $500.00 to each authorized school to help achieve your environmental education goals. Funds may be used to buy equipment, provide a match for an EE-related grant, hire a presenter, or pay for a field trip to the Audubon Center or any other EE-based location of your choice.
To apply for these funds:
  1. Download the application from the CSD website. Your project must be pre-approved before you can receive funding.
  2. Complete the application and return to Erin.
Once approved, funds will be released to your school only AFTER an invoice or other proof of payment is received. Our Business Manager is diligent in sending out funds within 5-10 business days. Proof of fund use is a requirement of the Audubon Center audit and funds will not be released without this.
Be recognized for your school’s efforts at being green! Apply for the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Award. This award honors public and private early childhood, elementary, middle, and high schools and school districts that are exemplary in all three of the following areas:
  • Reducing environmental impact;
  • Improving health and wellness; and
  • Providing effective environmental education.
The application for Minnesota schools and local information is available from John Olson, MDE Science Specialist. There will be information and assistance webinars on:
  • Thursday, November 6, 3:00-4:00 PM;
  • Wednesday, November 12, 4:00-5:00 PM; and
  • Tuesday, December 2, 3:30-4:30 PM.
Contact John Olson for login details.
The Minnesota Green Schools Coalition brings together the state’s strongest advocates for our children to create a Minnesota infrastructure of green schools – healthy, high-performing schools that are conducive to learning while saving energy, resources, and money. Membership is FREE and open to any teacher or school interested in participating. To join or to learn more, visit the GSC website.
Introductory Environmental Education Teacher Training
Save the date for FREE training for elementary and middle school teachers on in-classroom climate and energy curriculum developed by KidWind, the Will Steger Foundation, and the Bakken Museum. Earn CEUs and leave with three in-classroom lessons.
  • When: Tuesday, November 11, 2:00-4:00 PM
  • Where: University of Minnesota (Peik Hall, Room 28)
To register: Minnesota Green Schools Coalition
The Wild Face of Climate Change
The Minnesota Zoo and the Will Steger Foundation join forces to explore the effects of climate change on wildlife around the world. Teachers will leave this workshop with ideas and activities that can be used in the classroom to teach about climate change and gain a preliminary understanding of how specific animals and habitats are being affected. To learn more or the register, visit the WSF website.
Free Curricula Resources
The Will Steger Foundation climate change and energy curriculum for students in Grades 3-12 is available for free online.  Aligned with national standards, state standards (where relevant) and the climate literacy principles, each curriculum has been reviewed by educational organizations and partners.
Free Classroom Materials for Educators
The Will Steger Foundation offers classroom kits to support its climate change and energy curricula. These kits are free for Twin Cities area educators to borrow for up to three weeks. Kits include Explore Minnesota’s Biomes, What Does the Data Show?, and Watt Meters. Visit the Will Steger Foundation website to learn more or to request a kit.
TOLBY (Turn Off Lights Behind You) is the friendly energy mascot that encourages students to conserve energy. The Minnesota Energy Challenge offers FREE resources to bring TOLBY into schools and classrooms, including presentations and e-learning. Visit the Minnesota Energy Challenge website to learn more or to request a presentation or other resources.
Copyright © 2014 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.

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