Environment & Sustainability

Find programs and mentors near you with CYSTEM (Check it out!)

Environment & Sustainability image

Are You Into It?

Do you want to make the earth a better place to live? It is all about the environment in this project, whether it’s plants, animals, habitats, environmental issues, saving energy, renewable rescources, or recycling! You pick the topic and then learn and make a difference. Become active in your community, school, club, and home.

  • Develop an interest and understanding of environmental sciences and sustainable practices and technologies.
  • Develop problem solving and logical reasoning skills, then apply them to environmental issues.
  • Improve communication and teamwork skills by working the way scientists and engineers do - in teams.
  • Develop responsible attitudes about science and how science relates to the real world, people’s lives, the environment we all depend on.
  • Gain experience in problem solving and decision-making using science process skills.
  • Develop knowledge and skills related to environmental stewardship.

Here’s what you can do all year!

Starting Out Basic / Level 1

  • Choose an environmental focus (bugs, trees, birds, prairie, energy, recycling)
  • Observe life cycles of insects or other animals or plants that interest you
  • Learn about energy cycles
  • Create a collection (leaves, seeds, insects, plants)
  • Learn the proper way to mount your collection and identify what you found
  • Interview a local environmentalist
  • Find out about Iowa’s renewable and non-renewable energy sources

Learning More Intermediate / Level 2

  • Learn about different tree species and critters on your vacation. Record location, name of species, and type of climate
  • Learn about tree diseases
  • Conduct experiments
  • Volunteer at an eco-fair for your community
  • Study an environmental issue (acid rain, global climate change, or soil erosion)
  • Compare the costs and benefits of renewable energy sources
  • Learn how to set up an apiary

Expanding Horizons Advanced / Level 3

  • Conduct a forestry quiz bowl for your community
  • Organize a community service learning project to weatherize homes
  • Monitor water quality in your community with the IOWATER program
  • Investigate the potential of various energy sources to power Iowa homes
  • Job shadow and Interview a forester, entomologist or botanist
  • Enter a research project in a science or technology fair

Take It Further

Project Hot Sheet

Fair Exhibit Tip Sheets

Tip sheets are used by judges to evaluate your exhibit. Use them to help make the best presentation of your work. Choose a tip sheet based on your project's intended purpose.
If your project:

Exhibitor Fair Information Form (Word or editable pdf)
Exhibit Evaluation Form (pdf)

Delve Deeper into these Topics

Other Opportunities to Explore:

Step It Up

Pass it on! Now that you know how, share it with others. Here are ideas to get you started.


  • Do a presentation on the benefits of wind energy.
  • Create a “Trees of Iowa” poster.
  • Demonstrate how to collect and mount insects, leaves, plants, etc.
  • Create a blog about an environmental issue.
  • Create a video on how to weatherize your home.


  • Complete a Service Learning project
  • Help out at your local park.
  • Write a letter to the editor about a conservation or environment issue that concerns you.
  • Create a Sustainability Team to reduce non-recyclable products.


  • Clean up a local pond or lake to help the local fish environment.
  • Plan and conduct an “energy fair” teaching younger kids about wind, solar, biomass, and coal energy.
  • Organize an environmental club in your community.
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