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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ten Activities and Videos for Earth Day

Image Source: Soil-Net
This Sunday is Earth Day. Here is my updated short list of activities and videos for teaching and learning about Earth Day and environmental science in general.

From National Geographic The Hidden Water We Use is an interactive display of water consumption rates for commonly used products, commonly consumed foods, and commonly consumed beverages. For example, did you know that creating one gallon of beer requires less water than creating one gallon of coffee?

National Geographic has some other great resources for learning about environmental science and Earth  Day. On the National Geographic website students can learn about the Green House Effect through an interactive lesson. After learning about global warming in the Green House Effect interactive lesson, students can learn about alternative energy through the Wind Power interactive lesson.

Breathing Earth is an interactive map demonstrating CO2 emissions, birth rates, and death rates globally and by individual countries. From the moment that you first visit Breathing Earth it starts counting the number of births occurring worldwide. Placing your cursor over any country on the map reveals information about birthrate, death rate, and rate of CO2 emissions. One of the additional resources linked to Breathing Earth is an ecological footprint calculator. Using this calculator students can calculate their personal footprints, take quizzes, and learn about the ecological footprints of various businesses.

Google offers tours in its Explore Climate Change series. The tours explore the actions of organizations to prevent or adapt to climate change in different parts of the world. These tours include the World Wildlife Foundation's efforts in the peatland swamps of Borneo, Greenpeace's actions to prevent deforestation of the Amazon, and Conservation International's efforts to reduce deforestation in Madagascar. The tours can be viewed three ways, in Google Earth, in the Google Browser plug-in, or through YouTube.

The California Solar Irradiance Map is a Google Earth file that illustrates how much solar energy could be generated in one year from a horizontally oriented solar panel. The file can be used to see how much energy could be generated from the entire state. The file also includes thousands of individual data points showing how much energy could come from each individual place. Turn on the "placemark data" layer to view individual points.

Snag Films has put together a collection of more than twenty documentary films about various topics related to environmental science.

Turf Mutt is a nice free resource from Discovery Education. Turf Mutt features ten free environmental science lesson plans for K-5 teachers. The lesson plans have clearly defined objectives and detailed directions for carrying out each lesson plan. The majority of the lesson plans span several days. The lesson plans use a combination of hands-on activities, see Discovering Dirt, and reading/ research activities. Although not directly connected to the lesson plans, Turf Mutt has some videos to help students learn about topics in Environmental Science.

My Garbology, produced by Nature Bridge, is an interactive game that teaches students about sorting garbage for recycling, reusing, and composting. Students sort garbage into four bins according to where they think each piece of garbage should go. When a piece of garbage is sorted correctly a series of short animations explains why it should be there.  For example, a banana peel should be sorted into the compost bin. When the banana peel is placed into the compost bin students watch and hear a series of animations explaining how composting works.

Changing the Balance is a website for students to use to explore climate change through looking at its impact on mosquitos, malaria, and the West Nile virus. There are nine sequential parts to Changing the Balance. In the first four parts students learn about mosquitos, Malaria, and West Nile and how climate change may be a contributing factor to the spread of those diseases. In the beginning students also learn how mosquitos bite and how Malaria affects the human body. The last five sections of Changing the Balance are geared toward a more general explanation and examination of causes and effects of climate change.


A Home for the Future is a neat interactive display from The New York Times about a solar-powered home. Click on the photo and sound icons on the interactive image to learn about the features and nuances of a solar-powered home.

Finally, I would be remiss not to point out that Larry Ferlazzo has a good list of resources going too. Check out Larry's list here

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