The Way We Live | Professional development courses

The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – June 10-October 31* 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 five modules. Four modules are completed over a four-week time period, though you may work ahead. During those four weeks you will develop a mini-unit. Then, before the course ends, you will implement that mini-unit in your classroom. 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

  • The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – June 10-October 31* 100% online course. 

  • The Secret Lives of “Stuff” – July 8-November 30 100% online course. To register, click here. This will take you to the AEA login page. Once you login, you'll go directly to The Secret Lives of "Stuff" course and be able to register. 

    Contact Susan Salterberg, instructor, for more information at

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

  • WATCH HERE for a new course on food, food waste and impacts on climate change. MORE INFORMATION TO COME IN JUNE!



“…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
CEEE In Action
Engaging students in the community