Growing Up Green: Author Q&A
Growing Up Green: Author Q&A
PUBLISHED: Monday, February 15, 2021 by Andilynn Feddeler

Growing Up Green: Problem-Based Investigations in Ecology and Sustainability for Young Learners in STEM allows young students (grades K–2) to build critical and creative thinking skills, while also improving skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Learn more about the book and the importance of sustainability education in this interview with the authors, Stephen T. Schroth, Ph.D., and Janese Daniels, Ph.D.

Q: What motivated you to write these lessons? Why is sustainability an important topic?

We first became interested in environmental and sustainability education more than a decade ago when we noticed that undergraduate teacher candidates were passionate about this issue and that the children with whom they worked also shared this enthusiasm. We decided to write this book of lessons because we noticed a gap in materials that were teacher-friendly and easily implemented. We wanted to provide teachers with a resource that would allow them to meet state and national standards in their instruction, and would allow flexibility in implementation. We believe that teaching children about sustainability practices and how to become environmental activists will benefit the greater society. 

Q: How can young learners make an impact on the environment and the policies that regulate it?

We believe that young learners can make an impact on the environment by becoming more aware of how small changes they can make in their everyday lives can result in positive changes for the environment. Young learners can also make an impact on the environment by teaching others what they have learned and encouraging others to make small changes in their daily lives. 

Any young learner who wants to influence policies that regulate the environment need look no further than the youth environmental activist Greta Thunberg! Ms. Thunberg used her voice to rally youth and adults around the world to help advocate for policies that would help preserve the environment. We want to show young learners that their voices have power and that they can speak to local policymakers to advocate for changes in their communities.  

Q: How is the book organized? What is included in each lesson?

The book is organized in a way that we think will prove to be most convenient to those using it, regardless of the type of constrictions they may have that influence their school day. Organized into 10 guided investigations, teachers may choose to follow the lessons as written or pick and choose amongst them. Each guided investigation is designed to provide a week’s worth of lessons that examine an interest related to the environment or sustainability. A teacher, however, might choose to just teach one lesson from the guided investigation if that is all the time they have to devote to the topic during a given week. 

Each guided investigation is divided into three or four activities. The guided investigation itself might stretch over a week, with each activity being presented in a single day. Again, each activity may also be presented as a standalone lesson, if the teacher wants to supplement an existing curriculum or use it as part of their ongoing instruction. The activities themselves follow a form that will be familiar to most teachers, beginning with an objective, listing possible modifications that might be made for special populations (children with special needs, English language learners, the gifted, etc.), and the instructional sequence. The instructional sequence consists of an introduction and motivation, procedures, closure, assessment, evaluation, and a teacher reflection. Any or all of these, of course, may be modified by the teacher to better meet the needs of their students.  

Q: How does this book address cross-curricular subjects and connections?  

We integrate content from across the curriculum in our book, including literacy, mathematics, social studies, science, and digital literacy. Each lesson includes connections to standards, model activities, and links where teachers can find more information on the topic presented in the lesson.  

We are especially pleased by the appendices that compile a variety of resources that teachers might use with the children they teach. Appendix A, for example, contains a selection of children’s literature that we have found to be especially useful with environmental and sustainability education. Appendix B consists of various websites and apps that will help support teachers who wish to bring environmental and sustainability investigations to their students, and Appendix C aligns each investigation with the appropriate Common Core State Standards. 

We believe that the lessons included in this book will serve as effective complements to any state or local curriculum. We offer teachers full lesson plans and activities, along with materials, order of instruction, web links, assessment recommendations, and suggestions to accommodate various developmental and learning styles. The lessons are easy to understand and are easily adaptable. We appreciate that each teacher is the expert regarding the skills and needs of their students—we hope that these guided investigations provide support and suggestions about how to approach these topics.


Stephen T. Schroth, Ph.D., is a professor of Early Childhood Education and Graduate Programs Director at Towson University. Dr. Schroth’s interests include environmental and place-based education. Janese Daniels, Ph.D., serves as Chair and Professor of Early Childhood Education at Towson University, where she researches teacher induction and support for parents and families.