Drawing from 25 years of experience and a wealth of research on effective STEM education, youth development, and civic engagement we have created a tool, the Community Action and Problem-Solving Process, that combines the hands-on education that young people need to understand environmental issues with the civic experience they need to engage in civic action.
To take our approach to scale we are partnering with school districts and education organizations across the nation to incorporate the Community Action and Problem-Solving Process into middle school STEM classrooms. Together our network of partners provide training and materials to middle school educators who turn their classrooms into “civic laboratories” where science is put to work improving communities.
The result is young people who have experience solving environmental problems through civic means – and a commitment to continue that effort. Our strategy is to focus on three levers of change:
In 2017, Earth Force surveyed a broad range of education agencies and found that though are all interested in project-based education, few schools have been successful in implementing that model. To fill this need Earth Force has developed a school support program that includes educator professional development, capacity building for schools, and implementation planning at the school district level to support school systems as they incorporate civic-based action projects into their STEM education programs.
There are thousands of organizations using some form of environmental education in the across the country. Those organizations are reaching millions of young people each year. Earth Force is helping organizations incorporate civics into their existing programming via an annual train-the-trainer event.
Each year thousands of young people are taking action to improve the environment. Earth Force is committed to increasing awareness of the positive environmental impact of projects driven by young people. To promote the achievements of young people Earth Force is the host for the Chesapeake Bay Caring for our Watersheds contest and the Colorado based Rocky Mountain Environmental Challenge.
Theory of Change
We often hear the question, “How can educating young people be the answer to global environmental issues?” And, while it is true that middle school students are not going to eliminate pollution this afternoon, it is also true that they are the key to any long-term solutions society may hope to enact. By giving young people the opportunity to develop their understanding of the environment and the skills they need to bring that into the civic realm we ensure that communities are ready to face the generational environmental challenges they face. The following graphic outlines our Theory of Change: