San Mateo Environmental Learning Collaborative

The San Mateo Environmental Learning Collaborative is a unique partnership that results in increased environmental literacy and academic engagement for students, and success for teachers.

The San Mateo Environmental Learning Collaborative provides San Mateo K–8 teachers with the opportunity to participate in professional learning institutes focused on teaching the Next Generation Science Standards using project-based learning and the local environment.

“I realized that we have to do science to teach science. Teaching this unit has reignited my passion for teaching.”


Since the San Mateo Environmental Learning Collaborative first formed, more than 140 teachers have learned what NGSS requires them to do and how to do it—while also fostering students’ enthusiasm and natural curiosity about the environment around them.

“This experience both reinforced my knowledge of the standards and deepened my knowledge of the standards. It also provided me with many resources that can help in this process. I felt empowered.”

Benefits you’ll receive:

  • A stipend of $500 upon completion of the program
  • An understanding of the core concepts and three-dimensional learning at the heart of NGSS
  • The ability to successfully use project-based learning strategies
  • Connect with local environmental education providers and outdoor experiences to enhance what you’re teaching in the classroom
  • Tools to teach science concepts through integrated, inquiry-based, and project-based learning strategies
  • Instructional resources from provider partners
  • Confidence to teach science in ways that address NGSS requirements
  • Increased student engagement and comprehension
  • Greater and lasting educational impact on your students
  • The chance to share best practices with your fellow teachers at the January 2018 Capstone Institute

Bringing teachers together with our partners—the San Mateo County Office of Education, local providers of environment-based education, and curriculum experts—teachers are supported in creating units of study for the classroom that are comprehensive, standards-based, and student-centered.

Using existing resources including California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs), the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum, and instructional resources from partners, teachers connect students to science and the environment in effective and engaging ways.

“As I reflect on this experience, this unit is one of the achievements I am most proud of in my teaching career. This unit includes the 4 C’s of the CCSS: Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, and Critical Thinking. Students certainly develop listening and speaking skills. It is student-centered and driven, and differentiated. Students were proud of their work. Throughout the unit, they were self-motivated and engaged. They had a sense of purpose; the unit was both relevant and authentic. Not a single one asked what their grade was. It didn’t matter. They knew they made a difference and they felt honored.”

Thanks to our Sponsors and Partners: