Middle Childhood Environmental Educator Certification

The Center offers a unique program for any Miami student who wishes to become certified as an environmental educator for children, grades 4-8. Interested students must complete all requirements for the course BIO 320/377, Middle Childhood Environmental Educator, which is offered every other spring semester at the Hefner Museum of Natural History. While there is no additional cost for the certificate, students are asked to supply one 2 in. binder.  All other class materials are provided.

BIO 320/377 is an independent study taught as a class designed by Julia Robinson, Director of the Cecilia Berg Center for Environmental Education and Museum Educator/Senior Project Manager of the Hefner Museum. While this course is tailored to Middle Childhood Education majors, she welcomes students from diverse disciplines.  All that is required is a passion for helping children develop a sense of place, an awareness of how nature works, and things they can do to starting at the local level to make the Earth a better place.

All activities explored in class align to Ohio Science Standards and will be exemplified in the Museum's Imaginarium, an interactive, exploration center for all ages to learn more about the nature in their neighborhoods and beyond.  Through inquiry activities in class, we explore the following topics: weathering, erosion, and deposition; fossils and modern day organisms; cycles in nature; cellular to multicellular and the use of microscopes; energy flow; biotic/abiotic factors and how they affect an organism's survival; evolution and diversity; and the biosphere. We examine how to cultivate effective, thoughtful problem solving skills across an array of disciplines in children aged 10-14 while tying all activities to the standards.  We teach kids how to think, not what to think.  Participants leave class with activities that align to Ohio Science Standards that also easily coordinate to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The first half of the course, students engage in inquiry activities daily that cover the above listed topics. Students work through the requirements for certification, completing independent projects that allow for deeper exploration of environmental education concepts discussed in class. Projects are predetermined and assigned hour values. Due to the set-up of inquiry lessons and time commitment restraints, class attendance is imperative to complete the certification. During the second half of the course, students work in groups to create Hefner Museum Discovery Trunks. The Museum Discovery Trunks are educational kits that will be disseminated throughout our area to local schools, home school groups, and centers, offering interdisciplinary inquiry lessons, manipulatives needed for the activities, and accompanying specimens, centered around the themes of environmental education. 

Thanks to a grant we received through the Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF), all Miami students enrolled in the course earning the certification will receive an Outdoor Area Kit (OAK) packed with an age appropriate science library, soil probes, magnifying glasses, posters, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) booklets, a plant press, and so much more.