Green Chemistry Education: Reinventing Labs, Classrooms, and Industries

As we continue to face unprecedented environmental and social challenges, it is more important than ever to empower students — from kindergarten to graduate school — with the knowledge and skills necessary to create a viable and equitable future. Innovative leaders and organizations are finding ways to incorporate place-based learning and environmental education into curriculums while still honoring essential standards. The result? Classrooms and labs that feel more intuitive, make better use of real-word situations, and make students more excited to learn.

In this newsletter, we will explore how biomimicry, green chemistry, and environmental literacy are being incorporated into education programs in schools across the world.

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Beyond Benign Is Changing How Chemical Products Are Made Through Green Chemistry Education

From life-saving pharmaceutical drugs to high-performance materials, chemicals and chemical products are essential in providing society the products it requires to survive and thrive. But the creation and use of many chemical products is hazardous to people and the environment. In order to ensure a habitable future planet, the field of chemistry must adapt and find new ways to be sustainable as well as economical.

Beyond Benign’s cofounders, Dr. Amy Cannon and Dr. John Warner, are challenging educational institutions and the chemical industry at large to adopt green chemistry practices. Green Chemistry is defined as the design of chemical products that reduce the use or generation of hazardous substances. By supporting educators and students to teach and learn green chemistry and sustainable science, Beyond Benign is equipping the next generation of scientists and citizens with the tools required to design and select products that support human health and the environment.

Read our conversation with Dr. Amy Cannon here.

Bioneers 2023 Conference Highlight: Beyond Benign’s John Warner

John Warner, Ph.D. is a co-founder of the field of green chemistry. With 300+ patents and 100+ publications, he has designed and created technologies inspired by nature with the principles of green chemistry. After working at the Polaroid Corporation, John served as a tenured full professor at UMASS Boston and Lowell (in Chemistry and Plastics Engineering). In 2007 he co-founded (with Jim Babcock) the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry and (with Amy Cannon) Beyond Benign, a non-profit dedicated to sustainability and green chemistry education. John has won many prestigious awards for his research, inventions and policy advocacy and has served as a sustainability advisor for several major firms. 

Sign up for Bioneers 2023 Conference to hear his Keynote address, “The Materials Metabolism – Rethinking our Molecular Relationship with Nature.”

Read more here.

Bioneers 2023 Conference Media Partner: KPFA 94.1 FM

Bioneers welcomes KPFA 94.1 FM as a 2023 Conference media partner — the first listener-supported, non-commercial radio station in the United States. KPFA first went on the air in Berkeley, California in 1949 and the station is still going strong. You can listen to Nina Simons talk about the upcoming Bioneers 2023 Conference on Kris Welch’s show “The Talkies” here.

Check out all the shows.

Ten Strands Empowers California’s Schools to Lead the Way in Environmental Education

While climate change and environmental instability will impact people of all ages in the coming years, our planet’s youngest citizens will shoulder the heaviest burdens. As the environment influences nearly all of today’s pursuits — from the stories we tell to the chemicals we use in labs to the products we create, consume, and throw away — providing young students with an education that incorporates environmental literacy has never been more important.

Ten Strands is a California–based nonprofit established in 2012. Their mission is to build and strengthen the partnerships and strategies that will bring environmental literacy to all of California’s K–12 public school students. They operate with a small, diverse, and nimble staff and strategic partners throughout the state. Ten Strands utilizes the largest and most diverse institution in California—the public school system—to impact 58 county offices of education, more than 1,000 school districts, approximately 10,000 individual schools, over 300,000 teachers, and 5.8 million children.

Read our conversation with Ten Strands’ Karen Cowe here.

Explore: Indigeneity Curriculum

The Bioneers Indigeneity Program is the go-to source for accurate and contemporary information about Indigenous science, media, and curriculum for social change.

To support the use of Bioneers’ original content in the classroom, we’ve developed thematic discussion guides and curriculum bundles aligned with national standards for grades 9-12+. Each bundle includes teacher instructions, activities, assessment, and additional materials for a week of instruction around a set of themes. All lesson plan objectives and activities are aligned to high school standards for science, social studies/history, and English.

Learn more here.

The Biomimicry Educator Ripple Effect

“For most of human existence, we’ve always mimicked nature. That’s just how we survived.” -Beth Rattner, Executive Director at the Biomimicry Institute

In this short film, get a sneak peek into a professional development training for educators hosted by the Biomimicry Institute, Bioneers, and Ten Strands. Hear from participants and instructors and see how biomimicry offers an effective, engaging, and inspiring framework for STEAM education while empowering the next generation of problem-solvers to think differently about nature, engineering, and a sustainable future.

Watch here.

The 2023 J.M.K. Innovation Prize

The 2023 J.M.K. Innovation Prize

Calling all innovative nonprofits and social entrepreneurs: Apply for the 2023 J.M.K. Innovation Prize, awarding $175,000 for early-stage projects with transformative potential. This year, 10 Prizes will be awarded to innovators in the environment, heritage conservation, and social justice. Apply by April 28th!

Apply here

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