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Environmental Education Curricula

Environmental Pathways

Illinois EPA partnered with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) to create new science curricula for upper elementary and middle school educators. The new units are free and available online to teachers and parents. They follow a storyline model that is driven by student questions. The units are aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for formal classroom use. They are also suitable for informal use. The new curricula are an update to the Agency’s 2000 curriculum Environmental Pathways: Youth Investigating Pollution Issues in Illinois.

What Should I Do With This Trash?

The What Should I Do With This Trash? unit focuses on waste management problems and solutions.

This unit helps students investigate an everyday phenomenon: what to do with trash. They will learn about the waste management hierarchy, when and how to recycle, and exploring alternatives to waste.

How Does A Bulb Light?

The How Does A Bulb Light? unit focuses on energy, electricity use, and power sources and how they relate to climate change.

This unit helps students investigate an everyday phenomenon: an electric light turning on. They will learn about different energy sources and their impact on the environment and natural resources along with how to use energy more efficiently.

Hydropower Kit available for loan.

Circuit Kit available for loan.

The Energy Unit

The Energy Unit video covers topics from the How Does a Bulb Light? curriculum unit, such as energy production,
sources of energy including renewable options, and energy efficiency to help students better understand them. 

Where Does My Food Go?

The Where Does My Food Go? unit focuses on food waste reduction and landfill diversion. 

This unit helps students explore the everyday occurrence of food waste and guides them through the process of what happens to food that is thrown away, why that can lead to environmental issues, and what better solutions can be implemented.  

The Food Waste Unit

The Food Waste Unit video covers topics from the Where Does My Food Go? unit such as food waste, composting, and gardening to help students better understand them.

Watch our Food Waste Video >>>

Why is the Pond Green?

The Why is the Pond Green? unit focuses on surface water and algae. 

This unit helps students investigate algal blooms and their greater environmental impact, both positive and negative.

Youth Investigating Pollution Issues in Illinois

Illinois EPA offers a fifth-sixth grade teacher’s guide to the environment, Environmental Pathways – Youth Investigating Pollution Issues in Illinois. This 2000 guide meets the criteria of the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Environmental Education Materials: Guidelines for Excellence and is correlated with the Illinois Leaning Standards.

The packet is designed to develop critical thinking skills, encourage students to think constructively about environmental issues and to make informed decisions about our natural resources.

This guide is valuable tool as for teachers as they develop their environmental curricula.

Other Curricula

The Medicine Chest

The Medicine Chest is a curriculum unit for teachers that features hands-on real world problem solving on proper pharmaceutical disposal for their students has been completed by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant working with the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program.