Originally developed by the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, the Environmental Learning for the Future (ELF) program is an award-winning environmental education program for elementary-aged children and is used in hundreds of school districts around the country. For nearly 30 years, ELF has been a popular and successful program for getting volunteers into elementary classrooms. Gahagan provides the ELF program to five schools in our area, with the capacity to provide programming to additional schools.
ELF encompasses five ecological concepts: Habitats, Cycles, Adaptations, Designs of Nature, and Earth and Sky. Each of these themes includes eight lessons and their associated materials: one kit for each month on the school year. This structure provides for five years of continuous programming in a given school district. Each ELF teaching kit contains multiple activities complete with resource materials such as slideshows, mammal and bird skulls, audio tapes, puppet shows, rock collections, games, etc. The development of each ELF lesson was informed by current K-5 national science education standards.
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The ELF kits at Gahagan, ready for action!
The Five Themes of Project ELF
Designs of Nature
Nature’s designs are beautiful to behold, and many of them also have a specific purpose. The closer we look, the more we learn to appreciate the relationship between form and function.
The overlapping scales on a pine cone help to shed water and protect the developing embryos inside. The beautiful web of an orb weaver is also a deadly trap created by the spider to ensnare unwary insects. The cells in a honeycomb, hexagon-shaped so they share walls and fit together tightly, make efficient use of the space in a hive. While viewing some of the intricate designs found in nature, children discover how these forms contribute to an organism’s chances of survival.