Where the Wild Kids Are

Read the full story in CityLab.

Adventure playgrounds aren’t a new concept. Also known as waste-material playgrounds, they were popularized in Europe and the U.K. after World War II, when people realized that kids were playing in bombed-out lots. “It was a very urban, rough play experience,” explains Robin Meyer, a playground design project manager and one of eight board members of play:groundNYC. Hanna Rosin gave a great overview in her 2014 Atlantic article on the subject, and Erin Davis’s 2015 film The Land documents a modern Welsh adventure playground in all its tree-climbing, fire-starting, free-range glory.

The primary components of an adventure playground are moveable parts (which can include items like boxes, pipes, paint, hammers, and even saws) and trained, paid grown-up “playworkers,” who oversee and facilitate the play without interfering. Children are free to build their own structures, tear them down, climb, graffiti, create. They are encouraged to take calculated risks in order to learn resilience, grit, and problem-solving skills. The concept of vandalism is moot at an adventure playground—it is child-led play in its freest, most anarchic form. It is organized chaos.

Using the Very, Very Simple Climate Model in the Classroom

Read more about this classroom activity.

Through a simple online model, students learn about the relationship between average global temperature and carbon dioxide emissions while predicting temperature change over the 21st Century.

We can’t solve climate change without teaching it: Why more classes are heading outside

Read the full story from Public Radio International.

Standing waist-deep in Connecticut’s West River, Nyasia Mercer’s mind is far from the cold, murky water lapping against her rubber waders. The high-schooler is thinking of people. The ones who swim here. Fish here. The ones who unwittingly dump liquid waste into nearby sewers. And how few of them know what swirls through their neighborhood waterway.

“It’s sad,” Mercer says. “A lot of these things could have been prevented if the community knew how. A lot don’t know how to advocate for themselves.”

But self-advocacy isn’t a problem for the students at Common Ground High School in New Haven, where Mercer is a senior. She and her classmates spend their school days sometimes literally waist-deep in environmental justice issues. Common Ground, a charter school with almost 200 students, integrates conservation, sustainability, and environmental studies into the curriculum and across disciplines.

And it’s not the only one. Some schools across the United States are finding place-based learning creates a valuable connection between students’ local environment and their education, especially during a time of rapid climate change.

On Climate Change, Confused Teachers Make for Misinformed Students

Read the full story at Pacific Standard.

Junior high and high school science instructors often impart incorrect or contradictory information.

The study, conducted by Penn State University and the National Center for Science Education, is available here.

Emojis may help reduce waste by measuring kids’ emotional response to foods

Read the full story from Kansas State University.

Those expressive faces in text messages may do more than tell someone you’re ROTFL. Sensory analysis researchers at Kansas State University Olathe believe the icons also may reduce the amount of food thrown away during school lunches by knowing whether kids feel love emoji or yuck emoji about the meal.

Marianne Swaney-Stueve, research assistant professor of human nutrition and manager of the Sensory and Consumer Research Center at K-State Olathe, and Katy Gallo, Kansas State University doctoral student in human nutrition, Fairfield, Connecticut, are using emoji faces — icons used with smartphones and electronic communication — as a way to measure the emotions kids feel about certain foods.