Published: Feb. 6, 2018

Future teachers become agents of change

Contact(s): Jane Rice Integrative Studies in General Science office: 517-884-3470

The winners of an MSU student competition on the human impacts on the environment were honored at an awards ceremony on Jan. 26 in the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science at Michigan State University. 

Videos and posters were submitted to the competition by future elementary teachers as part of an integrated science education course. The general goal of the competition was to promote future teachers’ views of themselves as agents of change in the classroom while specifically informing the public and promoting change on environmental issues.

Videos and posters focused on the human impacts on the environment from burning fuels, food production and water usage both at a local and a global scale. 

Winner Jennifer Lenchard commented, “We are doing a project that can impact the world.”

Rachel Yates, an honorable mention award winner, found her participation to be an important part of her journey as a future educator.  “As a teacher I will have many opportunities to inform my students on the problems in our society, and I can persuade and organize ways we can help,” said Yates.

Students used a “Know-Care-Do!” approach in their projects, emphasizing science concepts (Know) and engaging empathy (Care) in order to promote taking action (Do). While coursework supported the knowing aspect of environmental issues, the caring aspect came from students speaking with people who are personally affected.  

As winner Madison Berman put it, “Speaking with people involved in an issue really brought the problem to life and helped me make a human connection that inspired me to think of possible solutions.”

Another winner, Molly McDermott, concurred. “The knowing component allowed me to teach my audience about water generally. The caring component allowed me and my audience to gain an understanding about how people are affected. Finally, the doing component allowed me to see how easy it is to make a change.” 

And, in the words of Honorable Mention award-winner, Kayli Silverstein, “The Know-Care-Do method is genius. It is a brilliant way to get students interested in an issue in society. This project truly opened my eyes to the difficulties many developing countries have with the everyday tasks we are able to do.” 

Other winners of the competition were Cyntara Herndon, Jessica Fleis and Molly Johnson. Judges for the competition were drawn from various MSU units, including advancement marketing and communications, mathematics education and the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science, as well as from the general public.

The competition was funded by the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation and supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture.