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Living Green With STEAM: Sustainability Activities in Elementary Classrooms

Colorado Convention Center, Mile High Ballroom 2B

Explore and create: Exploratory Creation lab
Preregistration Required
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Educational Technology Integrator
Cathedral School of St. John the Divine
Jamie Solis is a passionate educator committed to advancing education through technology integration and innovative curriculum design. Presently, she serves as the Educational Technology Integrator and STEAM Summer Camp Director at an independent school in New York City. In these roles, Jamie collaborates closely with educators, elevating their teaching toolkit and revitalizing curriculum materials. Jamie researches and develops STEAM curriculum, focusing on designing enriching experiences that leverage maker technology. She also has a strong love for music and is the founder of NOISE212 Labs, an enrichment program providing opportunities for children to learn DJing and digital music production.

Session description

This session encourages participants to think about integrating sustainability concepts into the elementary classroom. Focusing on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal: Sustainable Cities and Communities, participants will explore lesson ideas and activities that introduce sustainable practices through maker-centered projects, including a hands-on experience of building a solar house.

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate how to leverage simple makerspace tools and activities in order to provide authentic project learning experiences for students that classroom teachers can easily manage. Using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal: Sustainable Cities and Communities as a content thread, the projects shared allow students to investigate current sustainability issues like climate change and energy conservation. The hands-on experience in the session will guide participants to build a solar circuit to light up an LED bulb inside a house model.

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Intro to the UN’s Sustainble Development Goals and the call for sustainable education in the classroom - 5 mins.
Sustainable Cities Class Project Overview and ISTE Standards connections - 10 mins.
Solar Circuit / Solar House building activity - 35 mins.
Wrap-up participant share and Q&A - 10 mins.

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Supporting research

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals -

Burbules, Nicholas C., et al. “Five trends of Education and Technology in a sustainable future.” Geography and Sustainability, vol. 1, no. 2, 25 May 2020, pp. 93–97,

Bertrand, Marja G., and Immaculate K. Namukasa. “Steam education: Student learning and transferable skills.” Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning, vol. 13, no. 1, 24 June 2020, pp. 43–56,

Maslyk, J. STEAM Makers: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in the Elementary Classroom. 1st ed., Corwin, 2016.

Taylor, Neil, et al, editors. Educating for Sustainability in Primary Schools Teaching for the Future. Sense Publishers, 2015.

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Session specifications

Maker activities and programs
Grade level:
Skill level:
Coaches, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Subject area:
ISTE Standards:
For Students:
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
  • Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
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