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It was only in February, 1999 that GEA - China began its environmental education program with a presentation of books to Chinese teachers and students. This was followed by a two-day workshop to train 50 Chinese master teachers from 33 middle and elementary schools in Beijing. Both books and workshop met a widespread welcome.

David Bleyle, Counselor Environment, Science, and Technology American Embassy Beijing, Sun Hongui of China Academy of Sciences, Madame Deng Nan, Laura Utley of GCC, Professor Gan Shijun

Earth Workshop

U.S. trainers introducing the environmental action curriculum.

In the classroom Chinese teachers sat at round tables and threw a transparent "earth" from one table to another. People who caught the "earth" announced whether ocean or land was covered by their right thumb. Lauren McFall, an environmental teacher from California, recorded the instances of "ocean" and "land" on a white board. Ocean came up 75% of the time. This corresponds to the fact that 75% of the earth's surface is covered by water. This was one way to illustrate the concepts in the "Water Conservation" textbook.

Web of Life

Teachers at each table were given a single card representing an aspect of nature: sun, plants, birds, butterflies, rodents, etc. The teacher holding the sun card would hand a ball of string to another teacher and describe how the sun interacts with that person's card while still holding the end of the string. The second teacher now holds an end of the string and passed the ball on to another teacher describing how their two cards would interact. Soon a web is formed between all the people at the table.

Web of Life activity

At this point, one teacher pulled on the string. When someone felt a tug, they were instructed to tug back. And so on until everyone felt the pull. This demonstrated that all things in nature are connected. A change to one part of the ecosystem will affect the other elements.

Teacher Reaction

The teachers talked together excitedly after the class. "Our classrooms need these badly." "This is a real challenge to the traditional mechanical instruction." "Today's class has enlarged our vision of education." Shan Pingzhi from Xiaoyou Elementary School said that the textbook and the new teaching method trains the students to use not only their minds but also their hands.

Madame Deng Nan and Laura Utley presenting the "Water Conservation" books to Chinese students.

Chinese students singing "It's a Small World After All" at the book presentation ceremony.

Chinese teachers participating in environmental activities at the workshop.

Chinese students reading through their new environmental action books.
Teachers and students were able to browse the entire series of books that GEA - China is in the process of translating and distributing.
Books presented to the Chinese students and teachers: "Water Conservation", part of the environmental action series produced by E2, and "Environmental Science - A Study of Interrelationships" by Dr. Brad Smith of Western Washington State University.

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