In the Classroom

While learning is not limited to the classroom, at the Ecology Center, we recognize the unique and pivotal role that schools play in moving our society toward a sustainable future. By becoming role models for institutional practice, schools can demonstrate what is possible, give young people the experience of greener and healthier living, and help students build the knowledge and attitudes required to bring about larger social change. Supporting transformative practices and creative solutions in schools, and with students and their families, is a priority for the Ecology Center's Education Team.


Classroom Visits

The Ecology Center’s classroom programs are exciting, hands-on, and informational. Not only are they fun for students, but they are also aligned with the Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs) and High School Content Expectations (HSCE) to ensure that they will fit in with teachers’ curriculum needs. No matter which program you choose, students will get the message of what they can do to protect our environment!

If you have questions or request regarding our classroom programs, please click here.


For Elementary School Students

  • Wee Recycle: Stories, songs, and experimentation with playdough emphasize what recycling is, why it is important, and how to participate in the recycling process. For preschool and kindergarten students.

  • Compostability: Learn more about nature’s recycling — through story, song, and hands-on exploration. Recommended for 1st grade. 

  • Grow, Eat & Throw: Explore life cycles of common food products, tracing where they are grown or made, how they are distributed, and what happens to products when we are done with them. Recommended for 2nd grade. 

  • Storm Water Mystery: Help Detective Frog uncover clues about how our storm water system works, and learn what we can do to keep our neighborhood waterways clean and clear. Recommended for 2nd and 3rd grade.

  • Project Recycle, Renewed! Through a series of engaging activities, students learn what happens to the trash and recyclables and examine the relationship between natural resources and products we use every day. Students become experts on how to recycle and create an action plan for educating families and friends about recycling. Recommended for 3rd grade.

  • Nature Recycles: Recycling is an important way to deal with waste, and nature has been doing it all along! Students will examine recycling, composting, and natural decomposition. We’ll even give you a great compost “recipe!” Recommended for 4th grade.

  • Pollution Prevention and You: In this exciting simulation, students act as landscape planners, build a model, and then observe what happens when a pollution risk comes into their area. Recommended for 5th grade.

  • Time for Waste: This simulated archaeological dig allows students to explore "what was waste" from the Native Americans to present day, graphing their data to find patterns and compare across the generations. Recommended for 5th grade.


For Middle School and High School Students

  • Our Material World: Hands-on activities and discussion facilitate an examination of the resources we use and standards of living in various countries around the world. For 6th-8th grades.

  • Hungry Planet: Students examine food consumption, comparing how and what people eat, while thinking about the relationship between food and solid waste generation. For 6th-8th grades.

  • Zero Waste Party: Students explore the concept of "zero waste" and test their knowledge of recycling, then plan a party, festival, or parade that creatively meets the guidelines of a hypothetical zero-waste ordinance. Students gain greater understanding of local governance, as well as expanding their idea of how individuals can help to sustainably manage discards. For middle and high school students. NEW

  • Living Lightly 2.0: This program examines how we can treat our earth with respect! Students explore the consumer choices that we make every day, and the thought processes behind our decisions, taking a special look at the ways technology can help us achieve more sustainable habits. For high school students.

  • Engineering Safe Water Systems: Students are introduced to the safety issues associated with landfills, and in particular, their work in student teams to develop hands-on solutions as chemical or structural engineers. For high school students.


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February 27, 2017
On Thursday, February 23, the Ann Arbor Environmental Commission unanimously endorsed the Recycle Ann Arbor / Rumpke proposal to process City recyclables until the City’s materials recovery facility (MRF) is back up and running.
January 30, 2017
The FDA says the risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to antibacterial soaps. A new rule goes into effect this September. Find out what their concerns are and what to do in the meantime.
January 12, 2017
We rarely visit a school these days that does not have a green team.  These student groups can take many forms but share a common purpose – to take a leadership role on school projects to investigate or address environmental issues. 
January 12, 2017
The need to protect the environment has become more imperative with the advancement of technology. Materials that have become common over the past century, such as plastics, are not easily returned to the Earth through natural processes.
January 12, 2017
Research indicates that environmental education provides beneficial effects for students, especially those students who are at risk or have some form of disability. We provide synopses of the research methods and findings for three studies.
January 12, 2017
The Michigan Environmental Literacy Plan (MIELP) is a set of guidelines and resources intended to get K-12 students connected with the natural world. MIELP was passed in 2011 with the vision of creating “environmentally literate citizens”.

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