This week (April 14-20) is National Environmental Education Week. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan talks about the importance of linking STEM education with environmental education as a way to prepare students for the 21st century.
Monday April 22 is Earth Day! On that day, the U.S. Department of Education will announce the winners of the second annual Green Ribbon School awards. These awards are given to schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education, which incorporates STEM, civic skills and green career pathways.
The Sustainability Counts! section of the Mathematics Awareness Month website provides a number of model lessons that demonstrate how one can incorporate mathematics into sustainability education. With the growing interest at the K-12 level in teaching about sustainability, there is a growing market for high quality materials that link mathematics to sustainability. Mathematicians in the MPE2013 network are encouraged to develop such materials as a component of their work.
At Bryn Mawr College, we will be celebrating Earth Day tomorrow on Saturday, April 20. There will be a wide range of activities around the environment that student groups have organized. I will be contributing an activity called “When will all the ice be gone?” based on a math unit that looks at the extent if sea ice in the Arctic. The challenge is to use the data on sea ice extent over the past decade to predict in which year the Arctic will first become completely free of ice. I will be offering a $50 prize to the winner. The catch is – they may have to wait awhile to claim their prize. Take a look at the beautiful and thought provoking video A New Climate State: Arctic Sea Ice 2012 to learn more about the Arctic sea ice melt.
On Friday, I will be attending the Earth Day celebration at Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia, which will include the kick-off for their “Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation” mural, which they will paint over the next two years. I look forward to celebrating the excellent work of the students and their teachers – and awarding the school copies of our Mathematics of Sustainability poster.
Chair, Mathematics Awareness Month Advisory Committee
Professor of Mathematics
Bryn Mawr College