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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

EEAA Conference Inspires Educators

Environmental Education in the Classroom

You can call me a nature lover, an environmentalists, an environmental educator, or the author of the eco mystery series for kids. One thing's for sure, the scientists and teachers who participated in the 2016 Environmental Education Association of Alabama Conference at Camp McDowell, were an inspiration. Like me, they are dedicated to passing on our scientific knowledge, love, and appreciation for nature to the next generation.
Seeking green salimander
Looking for a Green Salamander
Heather Montgomery, noted nonfiction author for kids, the keynote speaker, provided the springboard for the theme of the conference, Discovery: A Bridge to Learning. Heather’s lively presentation certainly sparked environmental educators to motivate kids of all ages to go out and discover the richness of the natural world around them .
The conference opened with a teacher workshop,
Environmental Education in the Classroom, presented by Shirley Farrell Gifted specialist with Alabama State Department of Education. The workshop provided teachers with a treasure trove of outstanding resources an ideas. I had the privilege of participating in the workshop with a unit on “How to Inspire Kids to Become Eco Detectives.” Overall, the workshop demonstrated how teachers can seamlessly integrate environmental education activities into current curriculum in science, language arts, social studies, math, and art. In addition, it included activities on how to use the schoolyard as an outdoor classroom.
It was difficult to choose from the intriguing selection of field trips and workshops offered over the next two days. Here’s just a sampling of the offerings:
A salamander hunt with
Jimmy Stiles lead us into a majestic Eastern hemlock forest interlaced with moss-covered limestone cliffs percolated by delicate waterfalls.
Unfortunately, the woolly adelgid, an insect introduced from Asia that targets both young and mature hemlock trees, is a constant threat to this beautiful species.


Salamander Hunt Jimmy Stiles EEAA
Salamander Hunt Jimmy Stiles EEA
Green Salamader
Green Salamader
Red salamander EEAA
Red salamander EEAA
Encouraged by Jimmy, we peered into crevasses, overturned rotting logs, and dug into winter leaves on the forest floor. Bingo! Our group found a variety of amazing salamanders.
In the afternoon, we attended several presentations.
Dick Mills and Ken Wills presented the work they are doing to restore the beautiful Alabama parries that once existed in the Black Belt. By sheer vision and determination Dick and Ken have created thriving parries at Limestone Park in Alabaster and Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover.
We also attended workshop on the location of Alabama Birding Trails. Schelly Corry of the Cook Museum demonstrated activities focused on Biomimicry and the Maker Movement. This workshop showed how to spark ingenuity by bringing together science and art using recycled or discarded materials. The Maker Movement is a return to tinkering, inventing, designing and artistry, and is an incredible form of learning by doing.
Kudos to the all those who made this EEAA Conference a resounding success! Best wishes to the newly elected slate of officers. These passionate conservationists and environmental educators make a difference. Through their dedication they are preparing the next generation to become wise and loving stewards of our vital natural heritage.
Life is Amazing EEAA
Claire Datnow believes that Life is Amazing!

This Review Appeared in the 2016 winter edition of Green Teacher.

The Living Treasure

The Adventures of the Sizzling Six is a series of “Eco-mysteries” written by Claire Datnow for students in grades four through seven. In The Living Treasure, Sophie and Clara, two members of the Sizzling Six, are determined to find a freshwater pearl. Their perseverance finds them a threatened freshwater black sandshell mussel. The girls are thrilled to share their discovery with Sophie’s mother, a scientist. But to her dismay, the girls have killed the rare mussel and she takes them to learn a lesson from her friend, Dr. Jordan, a scientist who studies mollusks. Their visit to the Aquatic Center, leads them on an incredible ecological mystery. Along the way, QR codes (quick reference codes) allow the reader to follow right along with the girls on their adventure. By scanning the QR codes with a smart phone, or electronic device with QR reader software and an internet connection, the reader will be transported to videos and other media which further enhance the story. The text would be a fun addition to an ecology class. Students may welcome the break from a hefty textbook to read a fun storybook, especially one that incorporates the use of their smartphones! The unlikely surprise would probably inspire and spark a greater excitement for learning. In addition to scientific names, habitats, ecological status and other environmental facts, the girls learn that the importance of preserving biological diversity far outweighs any worldly possessions. (Annie Lisa Levine) Media Mint Publishers, 2011, ISBN
Media Mint Publishing, 173 pp., US $8.95 from www.amazon.com


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