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BEE Green: Living Science School Program

Bringing new programming into Detroit schools can be tough on teachers, but the BEE Green: Living Science School Program makes it easy. It aligns with state standards, and can be worked right into lesson plans. Even better, after BEE Green students learn about science and the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), they end up as environmental change agents in their own households and communities. 
Michigan Nightlight: In your view, what makes your program innovative, effective or remarkable? 
Green Living Science Executive Director Rachel Klegon: We make sure that everything being taught in the lessons is relevant to the student’s life. We not only teach them about how and why to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but help them practice by explaining the easy behavior changes they can make in their everyday lives and by providing a recycling program in their school for the first time.
Bringing a new program to a school can be overwhelming for teachers and administrators. It is important for Green Living Science to be seen as a support for schools and not a burden. To ensure this, Green Living Science makes it clear that the program is voluntary to participate. The curriculum Green Living Science provides is aligned with state standards, so we can work with teachers on an individual basis to incorporate lessons in their school day, rather than having the program be seen as another thing to try and fit in. Because of this attention to school needs and relationships, teachers and schools contribute
Many people in Detroit don't believe that recycling can happen city-wide, mainly because it has never been done before or because Detroit and especially the school system has too many other problems.
a huge level of enthusiasm and dedication to working Green Living Science and recycling, which makes the program work. 
What was the best lesson learned in the past year?
If you have to use an incentive to get someone to do something, you aren’t changing behaviors or creating systemic change. Instead, you are simply creating a short-term distraction from normal and learned behaviors. To really create a new culture, you need to connect with people emotionally.
What was the hardest lesson learned in the past year?
Just because something seems like it is a lost cause, doesn’t mean you should give up. Many people in Detroit don’t believe that recycling can happen city-wide, mainly because it has never been done before or because Detroit and especially the school system has too many other problems. Because of the students’ enthusiasm to learn and recycle and the gratitude expressed by the community when they drop off their recycling, I have learned that for every person who may not believe in what we are doing, just as many want and need us to continue to work hard and inspire others.
What really differentiates this program?
One thing that makes the program unique is how we incorporate art and engineering concepts in the lessons. Volunteer engineers are recruited to help create the curriculum, and local arts nonprofit groups contribute to creating hands-on activities to all students to practice using their imagination to solve real problems.
To a greater extent, all of our lessons are based on science and show students why and how to practice the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). The three basic lessons involve: materials and packaging, which teaches students about natural resources, how those resources are used to create products, and what those products can be recycled into;  energy, which teaches students about renewable and non-renewable resources and the benefits to using alternative energy; and pollution,
Green Living Science's programming provides enough options and flexibility to be able to act as a support for schools to build a successful program together, rather than dictate how their program needs to look.
which teaches students about what pollution is and how it can be prevented through individual and group behavioral change.
What are the keys to success for your program?
The partnership between Green Living Science and the Detroit Public Schools will contribute to the longevity and expansive reach of the program. GLS partners with Detroit Public Schools through the Office of Scientific Studies and with the city of Detroit’s Department of Public Works. Because of these partnerships, the city is providing free bins and recycling service to 11 schools in Detroit, and DPS is supporting the science teacher to incorporate the recycling education in their classrooms. Every school is different and has different needs. Green Living Science’s programming provides enough options and flexibility to be able to act as a support for schools to build a successful program together, rather than dictate how their program needs to look.
How do you innovate programming? Where do the curriculum ideas come from? How do you know if they are going to work?
Green Living Science began as a program called School Cycle, which was run by the city of Detroit’s recycling facility, Recycle Here! The purpose of School Cycle was to go into as many schools as possible to provide a 20-minute assembly to teach students about the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). The program expanded to include hour-long lessons taught by Green Living Science staff in the classroom.
Often new ideas are developed based on need. A request by a Head Start teacher to provide a recycling lesson led to developing activities for students ages 2-4. A request by an afterschool group working in a couple high schools to help make their recycling program successful led to developing a new program to create high school recycling teams. After noticing the disconnect between what the students could verbalize and what they could write down on an evaluation, Green Living Science partnered with a cartoonist to incorporate comic strips in the lesson to be used as an evaluative tool instead of quizzing the students.  

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