STEM learning

How to encourage environmental STEM learning

As the British public becomes increasingly more aware of how their actions can impact the environment, it’s all the more important to teach children how they can help protect our planet. Here, Rachel Hall, Managing Director of online educational resource Busy Things, explains how parents and teachers can encourage STEM learning with a focus on climate change.

After David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II showed the shocking effects plastic pollution has on the environment, around 88% of the British public have admitted to changing their consumer behaviour (Waitrose). But it’s not just our spending habits that are seeing a change. More and more young people are taking a stand against pollution, with around 15,000 children and teenagers across 60 UK towns campaigning against climate change (BBC). These young people want to include discussions about the environment and what we can do to fix it in the school curriculum.

It’s important that we teach children the skills they’ll need to battle climate change in the future. Science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects all prepare our children to contribute to the war on climate change. As a result, these subjects are increasingly being taught with an emphasis on nature and climate change. Below, I’ll be going through just some of the ways we can teach STEM subjects with an environmental focus both at school and at home.

Use fun educational tools

Technology is a large part of young people’s lives, so it’s only natural for them to learn using technology, too. You can get some great educational games and apps that can teach children all about the world around them, including plants, animals, habitats, and the environment, as well as vital skills they’ll need in the future. Gaining sufficient knowledge about the environment from an early age is key to developing an understanding about how we can be kind to our planet.

Encourage outdoor learning

Another way to introduce STEM and an interest in the environment is by promoting outdoor learning. Some schools have started developing outdoor classrooms that encourage children to investigate the natural world that lies within their school grounds. At home, encouraging children to play outdoors can also go a long way towards developing an interest in nature.

You could try using natural objects to teach maths, science, or even engineering, too. For example, you could use leaves, stones, and sticks to aid with counting. Or, encourage them to use these objects to build natural shelters to show them their alternative uses.

You could also try building bug hotels and bird boxes and researching specific plants to entice a wide range of wildlife to your garden. This can help children learn how small actions from them can go a long way towards helping the Earth.

Allow kids to interact with their environment and discover everything that nature has to offer them. A stronger connection with the natural world can help develop a keen passion to protect it.

Apply STEM to everyday life

Linking important STEM lessons back to something that children are familiar with promotes a detailed understanding of the world around them and their own effects on the environment. When cooking or shopping, speak to children about where their food comes from. Talking about the negative environmental impact of the food industry, such as the effects of chemical pesticides and meat production, can help children understand how they can make decisions to combat it.

You can also use this as an opportunity to teach them about the environmental effects of single-use plastics and encourage them to pick out loose fruits and vegetables instead of pre-packaged ones.

As the world becomes more invested in reversing climate change, STEM learning is taking on an environmental focus. With these subjects, we can teach young people about their impact on the environment and what they can do to help save our planet.

Check out our free environmental and sustainable courses for children aged 8 to 10 years and GCSE level students.