- Why environmental science?
Kids today are growing up in a world where global environmental crises have become the norm, and these same kids will be expected to solve these problems when they grow up. Issues like climate change, land degradation, resource scarcity, pollution, and extinction can be mitigated with the help and enthusiasm of the next generation of environmental leaders. This next generation must have a deep understanding of science and how humans impact the environment in order to create sustainable solutions and forever change our status quo - which is exactly what we need if we want their kids to live on a healthy planet!
What does teaching through an environmental context mean?
Teaching academic subjects using an environmental context means explaining history by what happened to the land and animals during a specific period of time, or math with the number of vegetables in a garden, or chemistry through the process of ocean acidification. Smarty Pants uses the environment to explain scientific concepts for several reasons. Studies show that teaching using the environment as a context for learning increases test scores across all subjects and promotes pro-environmental behaviors. When students learn how to take care of the environment, they share that knowledge at home with their parents - spreading environmental literacy. And best of all, the natural environment provides a context that kids can see and relate to, leading to deeper cognitive understanding of concepts.
- Why are your characters live action?
One reason students lose interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects in school is that they lack the confidence to study these tricky subjects. If students fall behind and don't think they can catch up, or if they don't believe they are capable of succeeding in STEM subjects, then they are highly unlikely to pursue careers in STEM fields. Yet today, STEM professionals are in demand and the environment needs these experts to create innovative solutions. Smarty Pants content features live action characters who serve as role models and are representative of all types of students, even those who are not typically portrayed in media or in science. Our live action characters are real, relatable kids, and with the help of their friends, they figure out tricky scientific concepts - all while having fun! Our characters promote self-efficacy, and have the power to inspire their viewers.
- Does your content align to standards?
Yes. Our content is designed to align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and also correlates with the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI). You can find each lesson's associated standards on our For Educators page. Smarty Pants is easily adapted to fit the needs of individual states' science standards too.
- What grades are Smarty Pants materials for?
Most of our materials are geared toward 4th-6th graders. If students don't "get" science by those crucial middle school years, they are far less likely to excel in science subjects later in life. Our material currently is developed to serve this need. And yes, we do have plans to expand our materials into other grades later on. Stay tuned!