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A Place-based Environmental Science Curriculum

photo of Detroit Waldorf School

Can a curriculum be developed that weaves together a phenomenological approach to science, environmental and social justice awareness, and service learning opportunities? That was the challenge when Craig Holdrege participated in the development of a middle-school environmental science curriculum for the Detroit Waldorf School. Craig and Michael D’Aleo, and Gary Banks (both Waldorf teachers and scientists with a passion for environmental topics) worked together in crafting a curriculum that involves firsthand student experiences and not just the transfer of information. Moreover, the curriculum is place-based, giving students opportunities to learn about the environment in and around Detroit, and also to be involved in community activities such as river monitoring and urban gardening. It is a model that educators can adapt to the environmental and social realities of their own local places.

We are happy to make available online Craig’s contribution to the curriculum, for the topic of Plant and Human Interactions (Craig Holdrege, 2011). It presents detailed ideas and methods for teaching about and experiencing plants, food, and agriculture over the course of three one-week units for grades 6, 7, and 8.

The other two courses in the curriculum focus on energy and transportation, and on substances and cycles (e.g. water, air, carbon), with a similar holistic approach for each of the three grades. The full three-course, three-year curriculum, Environmental Awareness and Sustainability Curriculum: An Experiential Curriculum for Middle School Students, is available for free here, courtesy of the Detroit Waldorf School.

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