Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lesson Plans About Presidential Campaign Commercials

The Living Room Candidate is an online exhibit of Presidential Campaign commercials from 1952 through 2004. The Living Room Candidate is part of a larger project called the Museum of the Moving Image. Visitors to The Living Room Candidate can view the commercials from each campaign from both parties. A written transcript is provided with each commercial. Provided along with each video is an overview of the political landscape of at the time of the campaigns. Visitors to the website can search for commercials by election year, type of commercial, or by campaign issue.

In order to view the commercials you will need to have either Windows Media Player or Real Player installed on your computer.

Applications for Education
The Living Room Candidate is a great resource for teaching lessons about the role of media and advertising in political campaigns. The Living Room Candidate has a good resource page for teachers which provides a series of eight sequential lesson plans.

Another Environmental Science Resource from Google Earth

Today on the Google Earth Blog I found an interesting file that illustrates the geothermal resources of the United States. Using the Geothermal Resources layer users can zoom in and click on each state to get detailed information about the geothermal resources of each state. Click here to access the Geothermal Resources file for Google Earth. If you don't have the latest version of Google Earth installed you can grab it from the Google Earth homepage.

I also found on the Google Earth Blog links to great videos from about geothermal resources and harnessing the potential energy of geothermal resources. Watching a couple of these videos taught me somethings about geothermal resources that I didn't know. One of the videos is embedded at the end of this blog entry. Theses videos are hosted on YouTube which means that for many teachers the videos aren't accessible at school. My recommended solution to that problem is to install the open-source media player Miro. Miro makes it possible for users to download and locally save videos from YouTube. Then download the video at home or another place where YouTube is not filtered.

On the topic of geothermal energy, I also found a great interactive map about alternative energy resources in the United States. The map is available on the US Department of Energy's website. Clicking on each state on the map will reveal information about each state's alternative energy resources. Click here to see the interactive map. On the US Department of Energy's website visitors can also find information about each state's average fuel consumption.

Applications for Education
Using the Google Earth Geothermal Resources file and the US Department of Energy's alternative energy map is a great way for students to determine which alternative resources are most viable for where they live. One project that students could take on is researching alternative energy and then giving a presentation about which alternative is best. A teacher could set up the project as a mock legislative committee meeting with some students playing the role of legislators as other students present. In doing this a science teacher could work with a social studies teacher to give students the opportunity to learn about science and civics.

Here is a short video from about geothermal resources.

Environmental Science and Math Lessons

In the last couple of days I've discovered two websites designed to help people calculate motor vehicle fuel economy and fuel saving strategies. I also explored the education pages of the Environmental Protection Agency's website. Using these three resources teachers can build a number of environmental science and some math lessons.

Fuelly, is a website where people register their vehicles and track fuel economy. Visitors to Fuelly can also look at other peoples' vehicle's fuel economy.

Walk Score is new website that ranks the "walkability" of 40 cities in the United States. By entering an address into the "walkability" calculator users can determine how easy or difficult it is to travel through a city without using a personal vehicle.

The Environmental Protection Agency has some great pages for teachers to use with students in all grade levels. The EPA website also has pages dedicated to independent learning activities for students. The pages for pre-K through 4th grade are especially good.

Applications for Education
Using Fuelly and Walk Score together students can evaluate the savings created by walking around down instead of driving. To make the activity more accurate teachers can have their students add in the average costs of parking fees in a city.

To help teachers keep environmental lessons relevant to where their students live, the EPA provides a search-by-zip code option which provides visitors with environmental news and data relevant to your zip code.