Growing Up Green profiles a unique statewide, hands-on environmental education program in Michigan, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. For the very first time, both rural and urban schools across the state are working to increase academic performance by involving students in local efforts to improve the environments they inhabit.
This coordinated statewide approach to "place-based education" presents a national model for increasing student engagement by making education more relevant, while also encouraging students to become lifelong stewards of the environment.
High school students in an interdisciplinary science and math class in Houghton developed ROV’s (remotely operated vehicles) to use in underwater explorations looking for invasive species. Across the state in Alpena, elementary school students use similar ROV’s to aid Fish and Game biologists in their research.
In Lansing and nearby Grand Rapids, elementary and high school students raise salmon in their classrooms, then restock local rivers, weaving science, math, history and art though their year-long curriculum. In Muskegon, elementary students plant a former dump site with non-invasive species, restoring a natural habitat, while learning valuable watershed lessons.
In Detroit's inner city, high school students renovate 800 houses with energy saving devices as part of their science and math program, while Detroit middle school students perform regular 'tire sweeps' of the neighborhood around their school, helping a local nonprofit in its recycling and poverty alleviation efforts. Professional development is offered through nine hubs to help teachers facilitate inquiry-based learning and problem-solving, and to sustain school-community partnerships.
The DVD includes extended segments and interviews with film participants
Reviews and FestivalsBroadcast on Public Television
"Editors Choice. Highly Recommended. Inspirational...a joy to watch! This engaging and powerful film has a place in all public schools, public libraries and university libraries."
– Science Books and Film
"Highly recommended. All of the examples of student assignments are applicable for other states and schools including urban and rural settings. The numerous projects shared and educational standards met are extensive."
- Educational Media Reviews Online
"Recommended. Parents, educators, and students are sure to find ideas, inspiration, and encouragement in this engaging documentary."
- Video Librarian
"Recommended. This upbeat program is sure to spur others to move out of the classroom and into the community. Involved teachers and students speak enthusiastically about the projects and tell how they relied on math and science concepts when testing rivers, counting zebra mussels, and reclaiming abandoned urban areas."
– Booklist Online
"Growing Up Green should be required viewing by every educator in the country. Worldwide, people and communities are facing a variety of interconnected ecological and social challenges. Too often, standardized school curriculum remains unresponsive to these challenges, and this lack of responsiveness is one reason for a pandemic of student disengagement. Growing Up Green profiles committed educators, students, and community members who have learned how to embrace these real world needs as curriculum, curriculum that is also designed to promote multiple content area literacies."
—David A. Greenwood, Director, Centre for Place and Sustainability Studies, Faculty of Education, Lakehead University, Canada
"A must-see for anyone who is truly interested in educational excellence and equity for all children. Through the voices of children, teachers, legislators, community-based organizations and partners, the film clearly documents the power of connecting the work that students do in schools to the critical needs and concerns of their communities. This is place-based education at its very best."
– Doris Terry Williams, Ed.D., Executive Director, The Rural School and Community Trust
"The Initiative depicted in this film embodies one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching approaches to place-based environmental education in the United States."
– Gregory Smith, Professor of Education, Lewis and Clark
"Urban and rural students of all ages learn and practice science and environmental knowledge and skills. In doing so, they make connections to their physical surroundings, history, and community, while developing solutions and even new technologies. The film demonstrates that this activity is well-spent, meets many academic standards, and has lasting impact on the students’ education."
–School Library Journal