We're here to help you navigate STEM learning at home while schools and camps are closed due to COVID-19.

Here are some resources to guide your at home learning:

Small changes add up! While we are all spending more time at home, Google's Your Plan, Your Planet tool is a fantastic way to engage with students about sustainability. Using the interactive tool, kids will pick up tips and information they can put to use, right now, to start making a difference in their household's ecological footprint.

Your Plan Your Planet illustrations highlighting food, water, energy, and stuff we all consume

Can one person help save the world? In the best of times, it is a big question. Students may think that saving the world is something others should do, not the responsibility of regular people living in regular houses in regular communities. After all, what impact can a single person have on the future of our planet?

Right now, with the global pandemic forcing changes in how we all approach school, grocery shopping, work, and everyday interactions, kids may be thinking about "saving the world" in very different ways. As Earth Day approaches (April 22), reminding kids about the importance of environmental awareness and steps we can take to improve sustainability is a good way to shift their thinking.

These are always important conversations to have with students (at all ages), but right now, helping kids find ways to take charge and be proactive about making positive changes for better global sustainability can also help them exert some control over their environment and their future, something they may feel like they lack in many other parts of their life at the moment. The ways in which they think about and use water, energy, food, and "stuff" (things like clothes and commercial products) can make a difference, and now is a great time to start.

By making small changes, kids will know they are doing their part to help save the world.

Sustainability Smarts with Your Plan, Your Planet

Your Plan, Your Planet is a free, interactive, online tool created by Google in partnership with the California Academy of Sciences and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Through a series of interactive, game-like activities rooted in scientific calculations, Your Plan, Your Planet helps students learn more about sustainability, the concept of a circular economy, and the kinds of changes they can make to help ensure a healthy planet today and tomorrow.

Your Plan, Your Planet focuses on how we consume food, water, energy, and stuff. When using the online tool, students select one of the four focus areas and then do interactive activities that let them identify their own patterns and see how those patterns relate to sustainability and the circular economy.

Screenshot of the Food section of Your Plan Your Planet, an interactive tool about sustainability
Above: a screenshot from the Food section of Your Plan, Your Planet.

Right now, many people are trying to make smart choices about food to use what they have effectively and minimize trips to the grocery store. The "Food" section of Your Plan, Your Planet is full of great tips to help students think about how they use and store food. In one activity, students are asked to identify different types of food that get thrown out each week in their house. This is then translated into water waste based on how many gallons of water it takes to produce an item. So when you throw a food item out, you are wasting the food's water value. If you throw out two cups of milk each week, for example, the tool tells you that over a year that equates to "wasting 3 school buses full of water." This translation of food waste into water waste can be eye-opening!

Tip: Another way for students to quantify impact is to consider carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions for the items they consume. Your Plan, Your Planet helps students equate activities with CO2e (in pounds). In the example of the milk, the amount thrown out equates to driving a car for a certain number of hours.

A different mini-game has students put groceries in the best location so that they stay fresh and last the longest. As they navigate the freezer, refrigerator, and other kitchen spaces, they get tips about why putting a food item in one place is a good or bad idea. In the other focus areas, students can evaluate water use (like how long of a shower one takes), energy use (like how long lights are left on and how many loads of laundry are washed), and "stuff" (how long you keep and wear clothing items, for example).

All of these tips are relevant today, and students at home right now have a really good opportunity to stop and take a look at how things are used in their own households. Are the lights left on unnecessarily? Are showers efficient? Is food being stored properly?

Lessons for Remote Learning

Two screenshots of sustainability themed project summary pages on the website ScienceBuddies.org

Science Buddies has two lessons for use with Your Plan, Your Planet. These lessons can work well for teachers working with students in remote learning settings.

These free, NGSS-aligned Lesson Plans help educators engage students with questions related to sustainability, personal impact, the idea of a circular economy, and what it means to have an ecological footprint.

Note: The lessons were developed with specific alignment for elementary and middle school educators, but both lessons can be adapted for use with students in other grades.

How much difference can a single student or household make when it comes to reducing consumption and waste of water, food, energy, and stuff? Students doing these activities and using Your Plan, Your Planet to explore will see that individual contributions quickly add up to make measurable change!

These resources from Google's Teacher Center can help you become familiar with Your Plan, Your Planet and build your own lessons:

How much difference can a single student or household make when it comes to reducing consumption and waste of water, food, energy, and stuff? Students doing these activities and using Your Plan, Your Planet to explore will see that individual contributions quickly add up to make measurable change!

Tip: For inspiration about using Google's Your Plan, Your Planet and the related sustainability lessons from Science Buddies, see this teacher's story: Sustainability Lessons Help Make Environmental Awareness Real.

Science Buddies is proud to partner with Google in sharing guided lessons for Your Plan, Your Planet with educators to support and encourage conversations with students about sustainability.


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