Sustainability

The dynamic and diverse STEM workforce provides students with countless real-world examples of people who look like them solving problems and building success. Spotlight unique sustainability leaders in STEM and empower the next generation of changemakers.

Sustainability

In Celebration of Earth Day, the Discovery Education STEM Careers Coalition (SCC) has released a curated collection to spotlight Sustainability professionals in STEM. Follow along as the SCC demonstrates how you can introduce your students to STEM with over 200 resources designed to uncover students' STEM skills to activate future solution seekers. Our exciting content includes resources ranging from hands-on student activations and lessons to the extensive database of career profiles and family activities.

Hands-On Sustainability for Classrooms 

Explore timely and relevant ways to connect sustainability to students’ everyday lives with flexible, easy-to-implement activities. Spark creativity and collaboration in any learning environment. 

From Rigs to Reefs

Energy

From Rigs to Reefs

How can artificial reefs be used to create healthier ecosystems?
High School: Grades 9-12
45-60 minute activity

Students will discover how offshore oil rigs are repurposed to create artificial reefs. They will conduct research and create an infographic explaining why fishermen, divers, and others are concerned with the removal of these structures, how artificial reefs are made, and their benefits.

Water Solutions

Water

Water Solutions

How can household materials be used to filter contaminants from water?
Elementary School: Grades K–5
45–60 minute activity

Students get a clear idea of the issue of water scarcity, while exploring their own original solutions to help create easily-accessible clean water. They will utilize everyday materials found at home to create, build, test, and optimize an effective water-filtration design.

Every Drop Counts

Water

Every Drop Counts

How can irrigation systems be redesigned to reduce water waste?
Middle School: Grades 6–8
45–60 minute activity

Students explore the components of irrigation systems used around the world. They will investigate the challenges of different systems and develop an understanding of how irrigation systems can both contribute to and help our global water crisis. 
 

New
Sustainable Innovation

Communities

Sustainable Innovation

How can autonomous vehicles contribute to sustainable communities?
High School: Grades 9-12
45-60 minute activity

Students will consider the potential benefits and risks of autonomous vehicles using a mechanical engineering lens. They will identify characteristics of community sustainability to help design their own proposal for implementing autonomous vehicles locally.

New
Sustainable School Meals

Food

Sustainable School Meals

How can cafeteria meals and practices become more sustainable?
High School: Grades 9-12
45-60 minute activity

Students will take the role of School Sustainability Manager as they focus on improving their school’s cafeteria. They will learn about sustainable food plans and create action steps to help decrease environmental impact and increase sustainability with their school lunches.

New
Eco-Friendly Manufacturing

Manufacturing

Eco-Friendly Manufacturing

How can manufacturing help the world’s water scarcity problems?
High School: Grades 9-12
45-60 minute activity

Students will investigate the textile industry’s impact on global water scarcity using engineering analysis. They will review strategies for reducing pollution while maintaining industry success, and draft clear guidelines to steer textile manufacturers to a more sustainable future.

Plastic Patrol

Energy

Plastic Patrol

How can communities reduce impact of plastic waste on the environment?
Elementary School: Grades K–5
45–60 minute activity

Students discover the environmental cost of “single-use” plastics, particularly the negative impacts on the Earth’s waterways. They will think constructively about plastic waste by designing, building, and optimizing their own solutions for re-using waste on a local level.

Power Down

Communities

Power Down

How can we conserve energy in our school?
Elementary School: Grades K–5
45–60 minute activity

Students take a closer look at energy consumption to understand how this impacts our air and environment. They will analyze how energy is consumed at their school, then use collaboration and creativity to develop recommendations on how to reduce energy consumption.

Waste Not

Food

Waste Not

How can we reduce food waste in our school?
Elementary School: Grades K–5
45–60 minute activity

Students think more critically about the negative impacts of food waste on the Earth by focusing on their own lives and communities. They will analyze the food waste that their class produces, then design and implement a plan to reduce, reuse, or recycle their waste effectively.

Harnessing Energy

Energy

Harnessing Energy

What should be considered when designing an efficient and reliable power solution?
Middle School: Grades 6–8
30 minute activity

Students investigate the different ways electricity can be generated from different types of energy sources. They will consider the efficiency, reliability, cost, and environmental impact of each, and work together to propose an optimal power solution for a ranger station in rural Alaska.

Creating Healthy, Sustainable Schools

Communities

Creating Healthy, Sustainable Schools

How can we improve the health of our school community?
Middle School: Grades 6–8
30 minute activity

Students explore the components of sustainability, as applied to their school community. They will suggest ways in which the health of their school community could be improved, and they will ultimately create a plan for redesigning a section of their school.

Fabricating our Future

Exploration and Discovery

Fabricating our Future

How can additive manufacturing expand the horizons of human exploration?
Middle School: Grades 6–8
30 minute activity

Students investigate the applications of 3D printing in deep space. They will explore the challenges that are associated with a Martian habitat and they will develop a design for additive manufacturing that considers these obstacles and helps humans live on Mars.

Recycling Food & Waste

Food

Recycling Food & Waste

How can composting contribute to global sustainability?
Middle School: Grades 6–8
30 minute activity

Students explore the idea of composting from a national and global perspective. After researching what composting entails and the impact it can have, students will educate a target audience about this process in an effort to decrease waste and/or lessen global hunger.

Spotlight on Sustainability Careers 

Introduce students to exciting sustainability-related careers with these curated profiles. Students can go on the job with real professionals working in a wide variety of industries.

ASCE

Renewable Energy Engineer

Elementary, Middle, & High School | Grades: K–12
Video Length
4:07 min

Renewable Energy Engineers are always looking for new ways of producing energy from sustainable sources. They find ways to use sunlight, wind, water, and geothermal energy to reduce the environmental impacts of energy production. 

ASCE

Water Quality Engineer

Elementary, Middle, & High School | Grades: K–12
Video Length
4:44 min

Water Quality Engineers use a specialized understanding of science and mathematics to address environmental problems related to water such as pollution, water treatment, and access. They study the ways industrial and residential water treatment and irrigation systems interact with natural processes. 

AES

Solar Engineer

Elementary, Middle, & High School | Grades: K–12
Video Length
3:47 min

Solar Engineers oversee the scientific process involved in harnessing the sun's energy to power homes, businesses, and industry. They combine a variety of STEM skills with leadership and problem-solving to supervise the design, installation, and monitoring of solar energy systems. 

Arconic Foundation

Environmental Health and Safety Engineer

Elementary, Middle, & High School | Grades: K–12
Video Length
3:25 min

Health & Safety Coordinators manage the safety and wellbeing of employees working in industrial manufacturing facilities. They use their strong interpersonal and communication skills to ensure that all employees’ health and safety needs are met through the use of rigorous precautions and standards.

IF/THEN Initiative

Bat Conservationist

Elementary, Middle, & High School | Grades: K–12
Video Length
3:10 min

Conservationists are usually zoologists and wildlife biologists who try to find the solutions to threats that affect wildlife, such as disease and habitat loss. They may specialize in a single species of animal, such as bats. They are professionals who love science, animals, and the outdoors. Many are animal keepers and curators in zoos or zoological parks.

American Petroleum Institute

Geologist

Elementary, Middle, & High School | Grades: K–12
Video Length
2:13

Geologists study the physical aspects of the Earth and research the composition, structure, and processes of the planet. Geologists often help mitigate natural disasters, examine the effects of climate change, and work in government agencies & academic institutions, among others.  

Featured Employee Hands-On Activities

Bring real-world career paths and activities to life in the classroom with sustainability-related activities that can be used to facilitate a STEM Careers Coalition Volunteer Visit.

Packaging Matters

Consumer Packaged Goods

Packaging Matters

What are the essentials of good product packaging?
Elementary School | Grades: K–5
Flexible Time

Discover the difference between consumer packaged goods (CPGs) like food and personal care products, and “durable goods” like appliances and electronics. Students will innovate an existing CPG, complete with new packaging designed to attract more customers.

Precision Irrigation Design Challenge

Water

Precision Irrigation Design Challenge

Can you design a system that evenly distributes water among different cups?
Grades: K-8
Subject
STEM
20–30 minutes

Delve into the challenges of irrigation in agriculture, industry, and at home by designing an irrigation system from recycled household items.

CPG Innovations

Consumer Packaged Goods

CPG Innovations

How much do you care about the packaging a product comes in?
Middle and High School | Grades: 6–12
Flexible Time

Take a closer look at the consumer packaged goods (CPGs) pervading students’ lives. After exploring the various types of materials used in CPGs, students will design a product of their own that is packaged in a way that is both sustainable and profitable.

Explore Sustainability at Home

Take advantage of downtime at home with sustainability-related activities for the whole family. Find fun ways to engage students in project-based learning and self-guided investigation.

Grown From Groceries

Food

Grown From Groceries

Can you grow food from kitchen scraps and water?
Grades: K-8
Subject
STEM
20–30 minutes

Give your kitchen scraps a new life by regrowing them into full plants. See what you have in your kitchen and follow the directions below.

Watts Going On?

Energy

Watts Going On?

How is your family using energy?
Grades: K-8
Subject
STEM
20–30 minutes

Think more critically about how your household uses energy with a simple experiment to identify the most energy-consuming appliance in the house.

Plastic Fabric Art

Learning

Plastic Fabric Art

Can you make fabric from plastic bags?
Grades: K-8
Subject
STEM
20–30 minutes

Explore the sustainability of everyday materials by creating a makeshift fabric from recycled plastic that can be used in artwork, fashion, and accessories.