University students create a collection of short non-fiction stories that connect to at least one SDG and are posted online for teachers of lower grades to use in classrooms.
The short story project is a university course-based assignment that provides an opportunity for introductory-level non-science majors to think about what is relevant in their own learning of earth science and sustainability and why the content and its application matters. While enrolled in a course with the overarching goal of improving student science and information literacies, students at Penn State Brandywine (Media, Pennsylvania, USA) were challenged to write three non-fiction stories that would each connect to one or more of the SDGs. To obtain the content for their stories, students spent instructional time with a librarian who assisted students with obtaining credible information and how to evaluate online content. A writing and peer-review component required students to write about their sustainability topic in the And-But-Therefore (ABT) template, supported by in-text citations and a reference list. The ABT template requires students to write in a narrative style with a set up (And), contradiction (But), and consequence (Therefore). The motivation to use a narrative format was to provide material that would engage a reader in a storyline instead of a listing of facts and numbers.
Although this assignment focused on improving student learning and writing about sustainability topics, the final products were shared with a statewide earth science teachers association. After a final review by the university earth science instructor to confirm the scientific accuracy within each story, the organization placed seventy-eight stories in their freely-available and searchable curricular database, where the stories can be searched by length of time to read the story (one minute, three minutes, five minutes), the sustainability topic, or the specific SDG. The writing and vocabulary used are appropriate for teachers in middle school and high school (grades 7 through 12).