Ecology Center environmental programs have been a feature of the Ann Arbor educational experience for more than 40 years. Currently, the City of Ann Arbor Solid Waste Department provides funding for our Education Team to deliver 250 student workshops and 32 adult programs free to Ann Arbor schools. 

Teachers in public or private schools within the Ann Arbor area are invited to request a free program by completing our online registration form.

Virtual Visits

We are excited to announce that our environmental lessons will be going virtual this year!  Many of our familiar in-class workshops will now be available in a new interactive online format.  No matter which program you choose, students will get the message of what they can do to protect our environment!


How do Ecology Center lessons fit with my curriculum?

All programs are aligned with Michigan science and/or social studies standards and recommended for a specific grade level or grade-range.

Do I have to pay for the lesson?

All of our online lessons are  FREE to Ann Arbor schools, thanks to sponsorship from the City of Ann Arbor’s Solid Waste Department.

What do I get when I request an online lesson?

You get online access to the program of your choice, including a link that can be embedded in your school’s online platform. Each lesson is self-contained, consisting of a pre-recorded video with features that allow students to interact with the content. You will also receive a writing prompt that extends learning on the video’s topic. Students may view the video unlimited times from that date you receive it until the end of the school year. 

How many lessons can I register for?

At this time we can only offer 1 free lesson to each teacher in the Ann Arbor schools. Each lesson is designed to be grade-level appropriate and has been aligned to that grade’s academic standards.

What do you mean when you say the lessons are “interactive”?

We use a video overlay program called Mindstamp with each of our pre-recorded virtual workshop videos. Each pre-recorded video has a mix of multiple-choice, short-answer, and draw-on-the-screen interactions, which allow for the student to move at their own pace. Virtual lessons may  include an activity piece that asks students to create something with common household items or a follow-up link to other activities or games related to the content of the virtual lesson.  

How are student response data recorded and used to preserve student privacy?

Students are asked to provide the name of their school and teacher at the start of the program. Students do not share their name or contact information with the Ecology Center.  Data cannot be traced back to an individual student.

When a student answers the video’s interactive questions, Mindstamp records their responses under an anonymous viewer-name. This allows us to track how student responses vary without identifying individuals. Student responses are aggregated to help us identify whether the lesson is achieving learning goals or to identify areas where we could improve the program to enhance learning. Summary data is shared with our City sponsors, including: 

  • the number of students and schools participating in each lesson
  • the percentage of students scoring well on quantitative knowledge questions
  • examples of student thinking, shared as anonymous quotes

How do I request a lesson?

Follow this link to an online registration form. The form will ask you to provide your name, school, and contact information. You will select a lesson and choose a month that you would like to use the lesson in your classroom. If you teach more than one class at a grade level or want to request a lesson for other teachers at your grade level, please be sure to let us know you are requesting for more than one class.

How do I access and share the lesson with my students?

In order to access the workshop, you will receive an email with a link to the Ecology Center Virtual Lesson that was requested in the online registration form. After clicking the link you will be redirected to the virtual lesson, and you can share the link on your student engagement platform. The following video walks you through the process:


Are you offering any in-classroom programs during 2020-2021 school year?

No. The Ecology Center’s in-classroom programs are suspended for the 2020-2021 school year. 




Program Descriptions

Wee Recycle (PK/K): MI Science Standards: K-ESS3-3, K-2-ETS1-3, MI Social Studies Standards: K-G5.0.1

Through games, story, and song, students learn about recycling and how to reduce waste. Featuring song and story with ReEco and friends, and a follow-along, hands-on component where students can sort their own waste at home to learn the rules of recycling.

Compostability (1st): MI Science Standards: 1-LS1-1, MI Social Studies Standards: 1-G2.0.1, 1-G5.0.1 

Through games, poetry, story, and song, students learn about organic waste and the role of nature's recyclers. Featuring interactive questions, song and story with ReEco the Recycling Raccoon, a follow-along, hands-on component where students can create their own compost using household items.

Grow, Eat & Throw (2nd):  MI Science Standards: 2-PS1-2, MI Social Studies Standards: 2-G1.0.1, 2-G4.0.2, 2-G5.0.1, 2-E1.0.3, 2-E1.0.5

Explore life cycles of common food products and propose alternative systems to reduce the impact of food waste. Featuring a fun, engaging draw-on-the-screen portion where students identify zero waste packaging options, and a hands-on component where students look at packaging waste in their own home and report back! 

Storm Water Mystery (3rd): MI Science Standards: 3-ESS3-1, 3-5-ETS1-1, MI Social Studies Standards : 3 - P4.2, 3 - G5.0.1

Decipher the clues to storm water pollution, and discuss everyday solutions. Students help Detective Frog and his assistant, Yoshi, solve a mystery through: interactive questions, a fun, engaging draw-on-the-screen portion, and singing with Detective Frog and friends! Students receive the Stormwater Detective Badge for completing the lesson.

Project Recycle (4th): MI Science Standards: 4-ESS3-1, MI Social Studies Standards: 4-G4.0.3, 4-G5.0.1, 4-E1.0.1, 4-E1.0.3

Students learn about our waste system and how consumer choices impact the recycling market. Featuring  a video of the Materials Recovery Facility and a draw-on-the-screen sorting activity!

The 3 C's: Compost, Carbon, and Climate (5th): MI Science Standards: 5-PS1-3, 5-LS2-1, 5-ESS2-1, 5-ESS3-1

Use evidence to identify how the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and geosphere interact during decomposition. 

Our Material World (6th): MI Social Studies Standards: 6-G1.3.1, 6-G2.2.3, 6-G3.2.2, 6-G4.1.4, 6-G4.4.1, 6-G5.1.1

Analyze images and statistics from countries across the world that reflect cultural and environmental differences, while raising questions about social equity. 

Hungry Planet (7th): MI Social Studies Standards: 7-G4.4.1, 7-G4.2.1, 7-G4.4.2, 7-G4.3.1, 7-G4.3.2, 7–G3.1.1, 7-G5.1.2, 7-G5.1.3, 7-W4.1.3

Compare food systems of the past with our modern global system and more-sustainable alternatives in order to write a persuasive argument for improving our food system. 

Researching Sustainable Systems (High School): MI Social Studies Standards P1.1, P1.5, P3.4, CG2, MI Science Standards: HS-ESS3-1, HS-ETS1-1, HS-ETS1-3

Give students an age-appropriate introduction to published research with a focus on sustainable resource management. Provides practice with skills such as data analysis, graphing, and reasoning, while asking students to think deeply about the relationship between social inequities and environmental and human health. 


Published on September 15, 2020