Taking Action! Students’ generation of solutions to local environmental problems with STEM disciplines in the Life Right Here and Everywhere project
Humankind faces unprecedented environmental, social, and economic challenges. Whether designing solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change on fragile ecosystems or developing vaccines to combat new COVID-19 variants, such challenges are increasingly complex, interdisciplinary, and require the design of solutions firmly rooted in the disciplines of science and engineering. International policy documents (e.g., OECD, 2018; National Research Council, 2018) challenge us to develop educational programs that can empower learners to build on and from interdisciplinary science, engineering, and mathematics knowledge development to design and implement solutions to local environmental challenges. We call these Eco-solutioning programs.
Over the next 12 months, a series of four editorials will emphasise Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Eco-solutioning programs for pre-college and university students. Examples include eco-solutioning programs in the United States to reduce the effects of non-native insect species and programs in Egypt where secondary students apply their STEM learning to address Egypt’s Grand Challenges including increasing the sources of clean water. These programs are anchored by students’ local, field-based data collection. With guidance by scientists and field-based tools often customised for student use, local data are collected, analysed, and harnessed towards actionable impacts, such as creating solutions to local environmental challenges. Final activities include student presentation of eco-solutions to policymakers, scientists, and community members.
National Research Council (2019). Science and engineering for grades 6–12: investigation and design at the center. B. Moulding, N. Songer & K. Brenner (Eds.) Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.