Friday, April 22, 2011

Lessons and Videos for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day and if you're looking for some environmental themed lessons and videos, I have some that you should take a look at.

Snag Films has put together a collection of more than twenty documentary films about various topics related to environmental science. I've embedded Burning Ice below. Burning Ice is about an expedition to Greenland to examine the effects of global warming on glaciers.
Watch more free documentaries

Teach Green is a lesson plan resource for teachers developed by General Motors and Weekly Reader. Teach Green provides teachers with free lesson plans for teaching about fuel cells, energy, the environment, and vehicle technology. Teachers can browse the collection of lesson plans by topic, grade level, or national standard. I browsed through the lesson plans earlier today and found that most are available with detailed directions that can be downloaded as PDFs. In addition to the lesson plans GM education provides some simple online games for K-8 students to play. The games are loosely based on the lessons in the lesson plan collection.

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.

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.

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.

The NEED Project is an educational program designed to teach students about energy consumption, energy sources, and the energy industry in general. NEED provides curriculum and lesson plans for teachers in all grades form elementary school through high school. The educators section of NEED makes all of their lessons with require materials available as PDF files. The student section of NEED offers students science fair project ideas, games, and puzzles.

SEREF, the Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation, has built a couple of tools that could be of interest to science teachers. SEREF has an energy estimation tool that allows you to estimate the potential solar and wind energy of any location. To use the estimation tool you have to enter your location using a Google Map and input the size of the solar panels or wind turbine structure. The potential energy is then calculated based on climate, latitude, and typical weather patterns.