The Way We Live | Professional development courses

The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – October 7-November 12 100% online course. Engage your K-12 students’ curiosity and help them become problem-solvers in one of The Secret Lives of “Stuff” graduate or recertification courses we offer through AEA Learning Online. 

We see products in grocery stores or malls; we buy them; and we use them. But we don't know the complex chain of events that took place to get us these products. You, and in turn your students, will get a better understanding of the processes involved by investigating product life cycles. You’ll be reminded of the value of recycling. You’ll also discover an often-overlooked solution that prevents environmental problems, and is good for the well-being of individuals and society.

Course includes six modules completed over a five-week period. During four of the five weeks you will develop a mini-unit. Materials introduced are interdisciplinary, classroom-ready and you can tie them to the Iowa Core in multiple disciplines such as literacy, science, social studies and mathematics. The course also addresses science standards (especially Human Impacts on Earth Systems, Natural Resources, and Defining Engineering Problems).  

June 2019 Materials: course syllabuscourse schedulecourse rubrics
July 2019 Materials:  course syllabus; course schedulecourse rubrics
Fall 2019 Materials: course syllabus, schedule, rubrics. 
(Scroll down the syllabus to see the schedule and rubrics.)

  • The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – October 7-November 12 100% online course. To register, log into the AEA Learning Online, then search for the course by name. Alternatively, you may search by section #: 273324.

  • The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – January 6-February 11, 2020 100% online course. Registration information coming soon!  

  • The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – February 3-March 10, 2020 100% online course. Registration information coming soon! 

  • The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – June 10-October 31, 2019 100% online course. --In progress.

  • The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – July 8-November 30, 2019 100% online course. --In progress.

  • Contact Susan Salterberg, instructor, for more information at

  • The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – January-February 2020 100% online course 
    Registration opens Fall 2019

  • WATCH HERE for a new course on food, food waste and impacts on climate change. 



“…It is rare to enjoy a class as much as I did this one. Thanks for a high quality experience that was an instrument of positive change for me…”

“The students realized how much ‘stuff’ they really have, and how all that ‘stuff’ isn’t necessary in their lives.”
“This mini-unit was a hit with the sixth grade kids [as they]… proposed ways they could help make a difference in our school.”
“...the group from my school is using all the wonderful books and ideas we got last year from our class. It ties in very well with a unit in our reading series...we’re still waiting for [an advanced class]!”

Read a summary of workshop evaluation results
Review sample mini-units 

  • Susan Salterberg
    Susan Salterberg
    The Way We Live Program Manager

    Susan is passionate about creating a better world for present and future generations. She has more than 35 years of combined experience in communications and environmental education work. Susan envisions a world filled with people who are focused on relationships, service, and experiences - not on "stuff."

    AT THE CEEE: Secret Lives of "Stuff"  /  Reclaim Your Holidays
    ON FACEBOOK: Reclaim Your Holidays / (319) 337-4816
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