The San Mateo County Office of Education's

Green Careers Awareness Program

Philosophy and Vision

At the San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE), we believe that a student's career education should begin before they get to high school. Early exposure to careers - specifically green careers - and the opportunity to explore California's industry sectors and their shifts toward environmentally-sustainable and socially-responsible practices will encourage students to use those lenses when making decisions about their post-secondary plans and life choices. 

To achieve our goal, SMCOE's College, Career, and CTE team has partnered with various curriculum designers and industry partners to create a K-12 "Green Career Awareness" Program. Our program includes numerous, standards-aligned Project-Based Learning instructional modules that help students move from theory to action, "Green Careers" field trips that directly engage students with local business partners, and a high school "Green Careers" course and pre-apprenticeship program. Our vision is to work with school districts across San Mateo County and California to improve our students' green career and Career Technical Education (CTE) awareness, bolster the connections among K-12 systems, two-and-four year colleges, trade schools, and our industry sectors, and to help usher our students toward critical-demand, high-wage careers in a green workforce.   

Program Funding

SMCOE's "Green Careers Awareness" Program is funded by two K12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP) grants and a generous philanthropic donation from Peninsula Clean Energy to support our 2023-2025 K12 SWP grant.

K12 Strong Workforce Program grants:

1. 2021-2023: "Extending the CTE-STEM Pipelines into our Middle Schools" (Round 3)

2. 2023-2025: "Reinforcing the K-12 to Climate-Ready Careers Pipeline" (Round 5) 

Program Components

SMCOE's program helps improve students' green career awareness at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. In elementary school, students are provided with a broad view of systems and learn how to create environmentally-sustainable solutions. At the middle school level, students learn about climate change and ecological overshoot, how specific industry sectors are responding to those issues, engage with design challenges to create their own solutions, learn about green careers in those industry sectors, and take "Green Careers" field trips to learn about local, sustainable businesses and the people that work there. In high school, students can enroll in the "Roots of Success" pre-apprenticeship program and attend "Green Careers" field trips with the Sustainable Future Outdoor Academy. 


Please visit the San Mateo County Office of Education's Green Careers Awareness website for additional information.  

Intellectual Property

This work falls under the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Creative Commons Attribution license, which gives permission to the public to reproduce, distribute, perform, display or adapt the licensed materials for any purpose, so long as the user gives attribution to the author.

Elementary School Program

Instructional Modules

A fifth grade instructional unit aims at creating and implementing business solutions to environmental problems, and promotes social change so that the environment is not harmed. Students serve as consultants to a business, called "The Chocolate Company".

Authors: Dr. Doron Markus (SMCOE), Andra Yeghoian (SMCOE), Dr. Emily Thomforde (CDE), Dr. Liz Beans (SSFUSD), and Jennifer Rosse (SSFUSD)

An instructional unit that complements residential outdoor education programs. This unit provides students with the context to compare the systems and practices utilized within their school related to energy, water, waste, and land-use with those of the outdoor education program.

Authors: Dr. Doron Markus and Andra Yeghoian (SMCOE)

Middle School Program

Instructional Modules

Agriscience prepares students for a wide range of careers in agriculture and animal science. Students learn about soil through hands-on investigations, simulations and data analysis, and from best practices from the agricultural industry to improve soil health in the local environment. Students also learn how to minimize the impact of climate change through carbon sequestration. 

Authors: Hannah Carney, Jared Milhous, and Kurt Murray (Cabrillo Unified School District)

The supply of clean water and the efficient use of energy and water are essential to human health and well-being. Students explore the connection between water heating and climate change, design insulation and conduction experiments, build their own solar water heater prototype, identify barriers and solutions to adopting solar water heating, and reflect on career opportunities in the energy, environment, and utilities industries

Author: Strategic Energy Innovations (SEI)

Clean water is essential to all life on earth. Students learn about the importance of clean water, efforts to maintain our watershed, how we test and treat water, and how climate change is impacting the global and regional freshwater supply. The module culminates in a debate on how to equitably allocate clean water to meet the needs of our region. 

Authors: Marine Science Institute, MidPeninsula Water District, Save the Bay, and Dr. Doron Markus and Sarah Watanabe (SMCOE)


 "The World Becomes What We Code"

Students learn the basics of computer programming using JavaScript, engage with social and environmental justice messages, and how graphics are used to create impactful messages. Students work through a series of design challenges that culminate in a final project where they design a campaign to address an important issue affecting their community.


Authors: Dr. Emily Thomforde and Bryan Flaig

The use of methane gas in our homes and communities is risky, yet the fossil fuel industry portrays it as safe and clean, and markets its continued use through social media. Students create a marketing campaign to counteract that industry's sponsored content and promote home electrification.

Authors: Sarah Watanabe and Dr. Doron Markus (SMCOE) and Derick Lee (Pilot City) in collaboration with Peninsula Clean Energy

 (With Micro:bits)

Engineers envision the future and use the engineering-design process to help solve today's problems. Students learn this process, how people and places are affected by climate change, and use engineering-design protocols to solve problems and mitigate the human impact on the environment using micro:bits - a pocket sized computer.

Authors: Suba Marti (Redwood City School District), Nico Janik and Tina Collier (Ravenswood School District)

(Without Micro:bits)

The fictitious island of Nomilu'u faces several crises related to the impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and flooding. Students learn about the work of coastal engineers and use the engineering-design process to solve one of these issues to save population of this island nation.

Authors: Sarah Watanabe and Dr. Doron Markus (SMCOE)

Finding alternatives to greenhouse gas emitting transportation is critical to mitigating the impacts of climate change. Students design a new community and its clean energy transportation infrastructure.  

Authors: Nico Janik and James Whiting

To reduce the impacts of plastic on the environment, we must replace fossil fuel-based plastics with biodegradable and sustainable materials during the product design and manufacturing processes. Students help solve the “plastic problem” by creating durable, biologically-sourced, sustainable materials to replace traditional plastics used in our homes and schools.

Authors: Dr. Chris Link (The New York Academy of Sciences) and Dr. Doron Markus (SMCOE) 

Food is an essential component of the human existence, and the dietary choices that we make impact the planet. Switching to a plant-based diet is one solution to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Students explore and compare the impacts of growing beef and plants, and create a "Climate Impact" score and graphic to help consumers make informed choices.  

Authors: Laura Kliman (Impossible Foods), Derick Lee (Pilot City) and Dr. Doron Markus and Sarah Watanabe (SMCOE)

Over millions of years of evolution, nature has found ways to solve problems that are similar to those found in the manufacturing and product design industry sectors. Biomimicry is a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies found in nature to solve human design challenges. Student use an online design tool, Tinkercad, to solve a problem using the principles of biomimicry and design thinking.

Authors: Rosanna Ayers (The Biomimicy Institute) and Dr. Doron Markus (SMCOE)

The integration of green and resilient principles and practices in community planning and urban design enables designers and planners to address the complex challenges of rebuilding communities after climate-related disasters, and create sustainable, adaptive, and inclusive environments that have long-term benefits for individuals, communities, and the natural environment. 

Authors: Andra Yeghoian and STEM4Real

Instructional Modules in Development (Fall 2023)

Robotics

Tina Collier

Green Careers Field Trips

Sustainable Future Outdoor Academy organizes career education field trips in concert with local sustainable businesses, taking students outdoors into the field to find out what green careers are really like by seeing business operations up close, speaking with owners and employees, and getting hands-on with tastings, demos, and other hands-on activities.

Schools will be able to choose among three field trips for their students: (1) Sustainable Food Systems (in progress); (2) Clean Energy (Fall 2023); and (3) Green Buildings (Spring 2024). 

*Watch the video that highlights high school students' experiences on the "Sustainable Food Systems" field trip. 

High School Program

Environmental Careers and Pre-Apprenticeship Opportunity

To prepare youth and adults from communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment for environmental jobs and career pathways and to become activists and leaders who can address environmental challenges and injustices in their communities and society more broadly.

ROOTS OF SUCCESS is a multimedia, activity-based curriculum that is facilitated by an instructor and taught in a classroom setting. The curriculum consists of 10 modules and can be taught as a stand alone course or integrated into an existing course. After teaching the Fundamentals module, instructors can teach as many or as few modules as they choose. Students who take all 10 modules are automatically enrolled in the ROS Department of Labor Pre-Apprenticeship. Access this one-page pdf to learn more!

Green Careers Field Trips

Sustainable Future Outdoor Academy organizes career education field trips in concert with local sustainable businesses, taking students outdoors into the field to find out what green careers are really like by seeing business operations up close, speaking with owners and employees, and getting hands-on with tastings, demos, and other hands-on activities.

Schools will be able to choose among three field trips for their students: (1) Sustainable Food Systems (in progress); (2) Clean Energy (Fall 2023); and (3) Green Buildings (Spring 2024). 

*Watch the video that highlights high school students' experiences on the "Sustainable Food Systems" field trip. 

Program Evaluation Report: Round Three

Case Study: Redwood City School District

SMCOE Green Careers Program Evaluation Report_June 2023.pdf