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The best way to teach science to the curious mind of the school-age child is by employing active “hands-on” techniques. The various units in this seminar provide numerous examples of “hands-on” approaches to environmental science. In fact, environmental science is a “natural” for the use of hands-on techniques because many of the topics, e.g. dust in the air, availability of water, sewage, abundance of wildlife, etc., can be studied by activities that kids can readily relate to. In addition, the constant infusion of ecological/environmental articles in newspapers and magazines enable the teacher to relate the scientific topics being explored in the classroom (and in the school yard, the local pond or at home) to topics that claim the attention of politicians, civic leaders, and the general public. With these attributes, the use of the environmental science units in the school can lead to an exciting way to teach science.
The range of topics in the units covers a wide span from the greenhouse effect and deforestation, to acid rain, radon and lead pollution, the ozone hole, recycling, oil spills, and the ecology of local streams and ponds. Throughout the various units, emphasis is placed on several simultaneous goals: 1) to introduce both the jargon and the units used to discuss the relevant environmental science problems, 2) to outline the level of knowledge currently available and the important questions that remain for each of the key areas, 3) to introduce ways of measuring and monitoring the important quantities that cause environmental concern, and 4) to relate the classroom activities to their school, their home and their community.