Events and Competitions
Save the date! The tenth annual Green Schools Conference and Expo will be held at the Hilton Portland Downtown in Portland, Oregon, March 2 – 4, 2020. Registration for the conference will open in Fall 2019.
October 18 – 20, 2019
Rhinebeck, New York
Join the Omega Center for Sustainable Living and partner organizations for this weekend conference to cultivate and strengthen relationships; share information, resources, and curriculum ideas; learn with and from young leaders; get inspired; and develop the support needed to reverse global warming. Public registration is limited. Cost is $345 and does not include accommodations.
Hosted by the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, this national, three-day conference is designed to inspire and support a community of educators around the power of place-based learning. The 2019 conference will take place November 7 – 9, 2019 in Flint, Michigan and will focus on the theme of Building Strong and Transformative Communities Together.
LearningSCAPES is the conference for those who plan, design, equip, furnish, and maintain places where students learn. This year’s conference will be held October 4 – 6 in Anaheim, California. Join your colleagues for groundbreaking educational sessions, inspiring keynote speakers, and a showcase of state-of-the-art tools that move learning into the future.
Visit the website to register and learn more about conference programming, speakers, special events, and travel.
October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate connections happening all over the country between schools, food, and local farmers! Farm to school enriches the connections communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings. Farm to school is reaching millions of students in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. This October, get involved, be inspired, and take action to advance farm to school in your community and across the country. Learn more about National Farm to School Month, find ways to get involved, and explore resources for celebrating by visiting the National Farm to School Network’s website at farmtoschool.org.
EDspaces is the gathering place for architects, dealers, preK-12 schools, colleges and universities, independent manufacturers representatives, exhibitors, and corporations to learn about trends and experience the latest products and services to enhance student learning. This year’s conference will be held October 23 – 25 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Future City is a project-based learning program where sixth- through eighth-grade students image, research, design, and build cities of the future that showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue. The 2019 – 2020 theme is Clean Water: Tap into Tomorrow. Teams will choose a threat to their city’s water supply and design a resilient system to maintain a reliable supply of clean drinking water.
Participants complete five deliverables: a virtual city design using SimCity; a 1,500-word essay; a scale model; a project plan; and a presentation to judges at Regional Competitions in January 2020. Regional winners represent their region at the Finals in Washington DC in February 2020.
Registration for the 2019 – 2020 competition closes on October 31, 2019.
November 18 – 19, 2019
Las Vegas, Nevada
This two-day program provides facility directors at schools and universities and their teams with the knowledge and tools necessary to support healthier, safer cleaning programs that promote learning. Attendees will participate in immersive, interactive workshops and panel discussions followed by networking opportunities and exclusive access to ISSA’s New Attendee Breakfast and trade show floor orientation session.
Save the date! The 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference will be held April 20 – 24, 2020 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hosted by the National Farm to School Network, this biennial event convenes stakeholders engaged in farm to cafeteria activities who are working to source local food and promote a culture of food and agricultural literacy across the country.
Submit a proposal to present at the 2020 conference! The deadline for submissions is October 4, 2019. Click here to learn more.
Register now for the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)’s 48th Annual Conference, to be held in Lexington, Kentucky from October 15 – 19, 2019. This year’s theme is Educating for a Just and Sustainable Future. NAAEE convenes one of the leading annual conferences for environmental education professionals, designed to promote innovation, networking, learning, and dissemination of best practices. The annual Research Symposium, held in advance of the conference, attracts new and established researchers to examine in-progress environmental education research and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners.
Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On this day, thousands of schools around the world take lessons outdoors and prioritize playtime. Over 3.5 million children participated in 2018. This year, Outdoor Classroom Day will be held on November 7, 2019. To participate, visit the website, sign up, and check out the online resources for activities, lesson ideas, and materials to inspire your Outdoor Classroom Day.
The Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) is an annual competition that provides high school students, grades 9-12, the opportunity to work on real-world engineering challenges in a team environment. Each year, student teams address a challenge that confronts our nation’s leading industries. Students utilize professional engineering software to develop their solutions and generate presentations that convincingly demonstrate the value of their solutions. RWDC provides students with opportunities to apply classroom lessons to the technical problems that are being faced in the workplace.
Registration is open until November 22, 2019. Students on the national winning team will receive $50,000 scholarships from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Registration is open for the 2019 Safe Routes to School National Conference, to be held at the Hilton Tampa Downtown from November 12 – 14, 2019. Join hundreds of active transportation and public health advocates and practitioners from across the country for valuable networking, sharing best practices, and exploring one of Florida’s most vibrant and active cities.
The USGBC Green Schools Summit is the Mountain Region’s only conference dedicated to convening green building industry professionals, school decision-makers, educators, and parents to further advance healthy, safe, and sustainable schools. The 2019 summit will take place November 7 – 8 in Arvada, Colorado at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. The summit will address the risks of the looming climate crisis as it relates to students and offer solutions. Early bird pricing is available until September 20.
This year’s National Walk to School Day is October 2, 2019! Join the thousands of communities that are celebrating Walk to School Day by registering your school’s event. Get tips for planning and promoting a Walk to School Day event at your school and see who else is planning an event in your area.
Professional Development and GSNN PD Partner Resources
The Biomimicry Institute is the world’s leading nonprofit dedicated to innovation inspired by nature. Biomimicry offers an exciting project-based approach that helps teachers blend STEM and environmental education in creative, hands-on lessons students love. The Biomimicry Institute helps educators and organizations bring biomimicry into their teaching by providing curriculum and training, networking opportunities, and content development support. Learn more about our services and visit the online library, AskNature, for the resources and information you need to bring biomimicry into your teaching practice.
Captain Planet Foundation supports educators with grants, resources, tools, and models to spark children’s curiosity, cultivate a love of nature, and engage students in science and engineering practices to solve real-world problems. Our programs and materials have co-evolved with education priorities over the years to ensure educators have the tools and strategies to meet their needs in and out of the classroom.
The School Board Advocacy Toolkit from the Center for Green Schools is a free resource that helps green schools allies address sustainability issues and impact greener policies at the school district level. It is designed to make local green schools advocacy approachable and actionable. The toolkit contains talking points, template letters and presentations, sample policy language, and more for you to use to promote greener policy options related to any school sustainability issue.
The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education works with schools and school districts to help them integrate Education for Sustainability (EfS) into their curriculum. Core services include consulting and leadership development (on-site and off-site); professional development and faculty coaching; curriculum design, assessment, mapping, and alignment; and school and community partnerships. The Cloud Institute holds an annual Summer Design Studio that enables educators, administrators, and program designers to learn how to design and embed EfS into curriculum, assessments, and programs.
Community Works Institute (CWI) supports and promotes exemplary teaching strategies and practices for K-16 educators and community programs that support students in becoming caring, responsible, and active members of their communities. CWI offers a variety of professional development opportunities for K-16 and community-based educators in the United States and internationally, including on-site training, retreats, coaching, and consulting. Their signature offering is a series of summer institutes that integrate field-tested service-learning best practices and principles of sustainability to engage K-16 students in academically based service that contributes to sustainable communities.
EcoRise’s school-based program empowers youth to tackle real-world challenges in their schools and communities by teaching sustainability, design innovation, and social entrepreneurship. Our curriculum, classroom grants, ongoing training, and support engages educators and students in meaningful learning experiences. Our program empowers teachers to confidently champion sustainability and innovation in their classrooms, while students cultivate 21st century skills and sustainable living practices.
Facing the Future is an international program, based out of Western Washington University, creating tools for educators that equip and motivate students to develop critical thinking skills, build global awareness, and engage in positive solutions for a sustainable future. The curriculum is organized around eight sustainability big ideas: Connecting with Nature; Equity and Justice; Health and Resiliency; Interconnectedness; Local to Global; Peace and Collaboration; Respect for Limits; and Universal Responsibility.
Facing the Future curriculum materials and resources are available for K-12 teachers, teachers in colleges of education, and for some community college and undergraduate classes. All materials are developed for teachers, by teachers, with best teaching and learning practices in mind and are aligned with Common Core Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and most state standards frameworks.
Green Apple Day of Service gives parents, teachers, students, companies, and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into healthy, safe, and productive learning environments through local service projects. Check out project ideas, pick up helpful event resources, and register your project online. Register by December 31, 2019 to be eligible for the 2020 Green Apple Awards.
The Green Strides Webinar Series provides school communities with the tools they need to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education. It provides all schools access to the resources that help them move toward the Pillars of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award. Sign up for Green Strides Webinar Series email updates to receive information on future webinars.
A product of the U.S. Green Building Council’s The Center for Green Schools, Learning Lab provides K-12 teachers and school leaders with comprehensive, project- and STEM-based curriculum that encourages student leadership, environmental literacy, and real-world action. Discover best-in-class content, training, and tools. Access their curated catalogue of lesson plans, interactive projects, assessment opportunities, and other multimedia resources in English and Spanish. Lessons are mapped to meet current educational standards and were created by educators, for educators.
Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit organization educating for a sustainable future. That means learning that links knowledge, inquiry, and action to help students build a healthy future for their communities and the planet. Its home campus is a 1,400-acre working farm, forest, and National Historic Landmark. Shelburne Farms’ school programs staff support student learning and educator professional development by offering experiences that inspire deep connections to community and a commitment to a healthy future.
Cultivating Farm to Early Childhood: October Workshop
October 19, 2019
Cultivating Farm to Early Childhood (FTEC) is an opportunity for you — Family Child Care, Head Start, Center-Based, Public Pre-K, and Home Visiting educators — to explore and expand your personal and professional experience related to food and nutrition programming while building and strengthening community connections. You’ll immerse yourself in hands-on, child-centered learning experiences like pickling, taste testing, and wool felting. We’ll align activities with practical discussions for community networking with local farmers and food system experts to build your FTEC knowledge and practices. Learn how FTEC concepts help meet multiple standards across licensing, CACFP, VELS, and STARS by promoting children’s learning, social emotional well-being, healthy eating habits, family engagement, and community building.
Cost $10. Includes snacks, lunch, and materials. Registration is open until Friday October 11, 2019. Learn more and register here.
Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI) is a nonprofit that builds leaders to drive climate solutions. For over 20 years, SEI’s focus has been on building capacity to create sustainable communities through scalable programs and models. Its flagship programs (Energize Schools, Energize Colleges, School of Environmental Leadership, and Climate Corps) integrate climate education, training, and career development. From young students to emerging professionals to communities, SEI programs engage local talent to directly address their community’s sustainability goals by leading projects with measurable environmental, economic, and social benefits.
Susan Santone is an internationally recognized educator with over 20 years of experience in curriculum reform, educational policy, and sustainability. Through her nonprofit Creative Change Educational Solutions, Susan has led teacher education and curriculum reform initiatives with clients ranging from K-12 districts to universities to the United Nations. Susan offers facilitator training to prepare school and university teams to lead professional development in their own settings; leadership development and strategic communication to advance understanding of sustainability and social justice, and consultation services for schools, universities, and other entities.
September 4, 2019 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EDT
Social justice and equity are prominent dimensions of sustainability that can be overlooked or under-taught across the curriculum. Well-meaning instructors may focus on “celebrating diversity” or exception individuals rather than a critical examination of social structures. This webinar will show ways to move toward a social justice perspective in teaching. Topics will include critical inquiry, culturally responsive teaching, and ways to introduce institutional discrimination and social change. Participants will receive sample rubrics to assess and strengthen their courses.
Teaching Our Cities, a project of Common Ground, is creating a collection of toolkits that share best practices that are working at partner schools. Toolkits include videos, blog-style reflections, resources, and practice descriptions. Current toolkits cover teaching a sense of place, learning expeditions, green exhibitions, environmental leadership portfolios, and magnet theme days.
Design Thinking Related Resources
Thomas Riddle, Assistant Director of the Roper Mountain Science Center and an Edutopia blogger, has assembled this comprehensive beginner’s guidebook to design thinking, including resources from recognized education organizations and websites such as Edutopia, D.School, The K-12 Lab, KQED Mind/Shift, and IDEO, to name a few.
Design Squad Global empowers middle school students to solve real-world problems and understand the impact of engineering in a global context. Refreshed weekly with challenges, videos, and activities, Design Squad Global’s website is one of the only places on the web where kids can share their engineering ideas with other kids. The Parents and Educators webpage provides adults with tools, such as guides, lesson plans, and training, they can use to help kids develop design process skills and apply them to an exciting array of engineering challenges.
This resource from Stanford d.school is an active toolkit of tools and methods that can be used to support your design thinking practice.
Developed by IDEO, this toolkit contains a design thinking process overview with methods and instructions that help you put design thinking into action, as well as IDEO’s Designer’s Workbook, adapted specifically for K-12 educators.
From Amazon.com: Design Thinking for School Leaders explores the changing landscape of leadership and offers practical ways to reframe the role of school leader using Design Thinking, one step at a time. Leaders can shift from “accidental designers” to “design-inspired leaders,” acting with greater intention and achieving greater impact. You’ll learn how viewing the world through a more empathetic lens—a critical first step on the path to becoming a design-inspired leader—can raise your awareness of the uniqueness of your teachers and students and prompt you to question the ways in which they experience your school.
Gallagher and Thordarson detail five specific roles to help you identify opportunities for positively impacting students, teachers, districts, parents, and the community:
- Opportunity Seeker. Shifts from problem solving to problem finding.
- Experience Architect. Designs and curates learning experiences.
- Rule Breaker. Challenges the way things are “always” done.
- Producer. Gets things done and creates rapid learning cycles for teams.
- Storyteller. Captures the hearts and minds of a community.
Full of examples of Design Thinking in action in schools across the country, Design Thinking for School Leaders can help you guide your school to the forefront of the new design + education movement, one that will move traditional education into the modern world and drive the future of learning.
Design Thinking for Teens partners with teens, teachers, and nonprofits to bring design thinking programs into schools. Their website features a free downloadable toolkit to help jump start design thinking at K-12 schools through hosting a design thinking event. Training opportunities for educators are also offered.
Whether your students are tackling project-based learning or developing
solutions in the STEM maker lab, design thinking will help them be more
innovative. The design-thinking process, practices and mindsets teach
21st-century skills such as adaptability, collaboration and critical
The design thinking program described in this book helps develop students’ mindsets in a way that is more conducive to producing innovative solutions. It allows students to apply their creativity to tackle real-world issues and achieve better results through the use of its five learning phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test.
This resource roundup includes videos and articles that will help educators become more familiar with design thinking and how to incorporate the design thinking process into their curriculum.
Developed by a team of University of Texas faculty, NASA engineers, and secondary teachers working with funding from the National Science Foundation, Engineer Your World is an innovative, student-centered curriculum that engages learners in authentic engineering experiences and inspires them to embrace an engineer’s habits of mind. Collaborative, student-directed projects build resilient problem-solving skills and empower students to think like engineers, to adopt engineering processes, and to pursue engineering disciplines for the betterment of our world.
JASON is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert D. Ballard. JASON provides curriculum and learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for K-12 students, and high-quality professional development for teachers. Each comprehensive JASON Learning curriculum features print and digital materials, hands-on activities, videos and online games for students, as well as lesson plans, implementation tips, professional development, and a powerful digital platform for educators. Live, interactive events throughout the year connect the JASON community with inspirational STEM role models, including renowned scientists and other experts who have pursued STEM careers. Learn more about and download JASON’s design thinking challenges.
From Amazon.com: Educators John Spencer and A.J. Juliani know firsthand the challenges teachers face every day: School can be busy. Materials can be scarce. The creative process can seem confusing. Curriculum requirements can feel limiting. Those challenges too often bully creativity, pushing it to the side as an “enrichment activity” that gets put off or squeezed into the tiniest time block. We can do better. We must do better if we’re going to prepare students for their future.
LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student provides a process that can be incorporated into every class at every grade level … even if you don’t consider yourself a “creative teacher.”
In LAUNCH, teachers will discover practical strategies for using design thinking in the classroom to engage, inspire, and empower students. Here are a few key takeaways:
- Student projects that focus on making, designing, and creating
- Fixing the brainstorming process
- Structuring project-based learning to unleash creativity
- Building creative confidence in the classroom
- Leading a maker movement without spending a lot of money
LinkEngineering is a community of educators interested in providing meaningful engineering experiences to PreK-12 students of all abilities. The website provides background information on engineering and engineering design, as well as examples of engineering in educational settings. It also serves as a forum where educators can connect with others to learn how to effectively implement engineering in PreK-12 settings.
A program of Solar One, Green Design Lab is a K-12 education program that promotes experiential learning opportunities through science, technology, and design. Solar One’s programs increase environmental knowledge about energy, water, materials science, and food while fostering sustainable behaviors and stewardship. Using the school as a learning laboratory, Solar One’s K-12 programs introduce students to hands-on, real world experiences, support the development of creative thinking and problem-solving skills, and turn students into advocates for sustainability in their schools and communities.
The Green Design Lab program delivers professional development opportunities to teachers; offers a curriculum package centered on the school building as a learning laboratory; and provides resources including videos, worksheets, and a toolkit for educators.
TeachEngineering is a searchable, web-based digital library collection comprised of standards-based engineering curricula for use by K-12 educators to make applied science and math come alive through engineering design in K-12 settings. The TeachEngineering collection provides educators with free access to a growing curricular resource of activities, lessons, units, maker challenges, and sprinkles for use in informal education settings. Every lesson and activity is explicitly aligned to the science and/or math educational standards of the state in which it was first developed and classroom tested, as well as to the Common Core Math, Next-Gen Science, and ITEEA standards, if they apply.
Grants and Awards
Annie’s offers Grants for Gardens donations to schools and other educational programs that help build school gardens. The Fall 2019 application period is open through November 1, 2019. Learn more about eligibility requirements, funding, and how to apply on Annie’s website.
The Captain Planet Foundation’s ecoSolution Grants (previously called “Small Grants”) have been the defining basis of the organization’s work over the last 25 years. The Foundation has funded over 2,100 projects that have impacted 1.2 million youth around the world – actively fulfilling its mission to build the next generation of environmental stewards and change agents.
ecoSolution Grants range from $500 – $2,500 and are intended to support solution-oriented, youth-led projects that result in real environmental outcomes. Visit the website to learn more about eligibility and restrictions and to fill out an application. The next grant cycle opens on September 15, 2019.
Originally developed in partnership with the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and with ongoing support from Voya Financial, ecoTech Grants are specifically offered to engage children in inquiry-based, STEM-related projects that leverage technology and/or use nature-based design to address environmental problems in local communities. ecoTech Grants were created to combat the notion that students needed to choose between “the screen” or “the green” and to encourage educators and students to explore the role technology can play in designing and implementing solutions to some of our most pressing environmental challenges. ecoTECH grant projects must:
- Be based in the U.S.
- Integrate the use of technology to address environmental problems (not iPads or other tablets)
- Be project-based
- Be youth-led
- Result in real, demonstrable environmental outcomes
ecoTECH grants are available as cash grants of up to $2,500 and support the purchase of materials and other project implementation expenses. The next grant cycle opens on September 15, 2019.
Constellation E2 Energy to Educate grants inspire students to think differently about energy. Through this unique grant program, Constellation has offered over 100,000 students in grades 6-12 and college opportunities to enhance their understanding of science and technology, and experience problem-solving today’s and tomorrow’s energy challenges.
Constellation is seeking proposals for hands-on projects which engage 100 or more students, within the following themes:
- Energy in Transportation
- Backyard Generation
- Zero Waste
Grant awards are up to $25,000 for grades 6-12 and up to $50,000 for colleges and universities. Applications must be submitted online by October 1, 2019. Grant awards will be announced in November 2019 during American Education Week.
FirstEnergy proudly supports classroom projects and teacher professional development initiatives focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). One of the ways they support these activities is by offering STEM education grants of up to $1,000 to educators at schools and youth groups in communities served by its electric operating companies, other areas where they have facilities, and where they do business. More than 1,000 educators and youth group leaders have received classroom grants since the program began during the 1986-87 school year. Applications for the 2019-2020 school year are now available and must be submitted by September 20, 2019.
GetEdFunding is a curated collection of grants and awards created by education professionals for education professionals. Its database was designed to be easy-to-use and reliable, and all grant and funding opportunities are updated daily. Users can search by six criteria, including 43 areas of focus, 8 content areas, and 14 twenty-first century themes and skills, including environmental literacy. Once registered on the site, users can save grants of interest and return to them at any time.
Fund for Teachers provides educators the resources and funding they need to pursue self-designed professional learning experiences. Fund for Teachers grant awards support a variety of projects, all designed to create enhanced learning environments for teachers, their students, and school communities. Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has invested $32 million in nearly 8,500 teachers. The application for 2020 professional development grants will be available starting October 1, 2019. In the meantime, learn more about the application process and what current and past fellows have accomplished.
Salad Bars to Schools launched in 2010 with the mission of donating salad bars to U.S. schools so that every child has daily access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program is invited to apply. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Visit the website to learn about eligibility, award criteria, and the application process.
A partnership between Shell Oil Company and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), this award recognizes one outstanding classroom teacher (grades K–12) who has had a positive impact on his or her students, school, and the community through exemplary science teaching. The recipient of the Shell Science Teaching Award will receive $10,000, as well as an all-expense-paid trip (along with the two finalists) to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education. All three will be honored at the Awards Banquet. The recipient will also be recognized at the Teacher Awards Banquet. The 10 semifinalists will receive certificates of distinction. Completed applications must be received by December 18, 2019.
K-5 teachers are invited to apply online for a $1,000 Toshiba America Foundation grant to help bring an innovative hands-on project into their classroom. With a Toshiba America Foundation grant, elementary teachers can bring their best new teaching ideas to life.
Grant applications are due on October 1 each year. Grants are also available for teachers in grades 6-12 who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students. Applications for grants less than $5,000 are accepted at any time. For grant requests of more than $5,000, deadlines are May 1 and November 1.
Voya Foundation grants are focused on Financial Resilience. We work to ensure that youth are equipped with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) expertise and financial knowledge necessary to compete in the 21st century workforce and make smart financial decisions that lead to a secure retirement.
We accomplish this by accepting year-round grant applications from organizations that:
- Provide innovative and experiential K-8 STEM learning opportunities to promote an early interest in STEM career fields, and improve teachers’ capabilities in STEM; or
- Provide financial education curriculum to grade 9-12 students focused on navigating major financial milestones including student debt, credit, home ownership, financial products and services/financial capability, and family needs.