news & tips
A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching
Happy Earth Day! This week folks around the globe will celebrate the 40th Earth Day. A quick search will show you what might be going on in your city. There should be some activities that you may want to participate in with your class.
To get ready for the day there are several sites that allow you to take an Earth Day IQ quiz or calculate your ecological footprint , compare it to others and see if you can reduce it.
This should bring up lots of questions in your class. It is important to write those questions where the class can see them and follow up as you find answers this week.
My all time favorite Earth Day activity is a recycled materials invention competition or art contest. I can get lots of recycled materials from the local recycling plant or ask kids to collect them ahead of time. Having the same materials for all not only keeps the contest a bit easier to judge but also gives kids a perspective on how to reuse many common materials. I always use milk jugs and water bottles as there are so many of these around. I seldom use aluminum cans as these are currently recycled well for their base metal. Then, newspaper, some recycled string, bottle caps, Styrofoam peanuts, whatever you can find in larger quantities and a bit of glue and imagination. The make stuff site has some good idea starters.
I also love activities that involve a local cleanup effort. I do like to beef up the science by having the kids map out the area and create grids. They predict how much trash (number of bags) they will collect in a particular grid and then collect, record and plot the results. The day is followed up with why some areas had more trash than others (wind or proximity to a store or fast food restaurant) and how the trash could be reduced. There is a site that is specific to San Francisco that outlines how to organize a park clean up. Their instruction can fit any location and are right on target for getting a clean up going.
To pack some good standards based science into this week the Wilderness site is a good place to begin. Their site has some full lesson plans that target ecological concepts with a current event flavor.
The Earth Day Organization site has a section on core issues that is excellent. Click to the homepage there and you can type in your city to find local events.
Each year this group puts out a curriculum unit. This year they tackle the history of the environmental movement. There is science in there but it is really best used in connection with the social studies teacher.
The EPA site has a pick 5 initiative where it prompts kids (and adults) to pick 5 actions to help improve the environment. This is a great all school activity which could save the district (and families) money and help the planet. By the way the EPA turns 40 this year as well.
So, you can choose air, water, soil, recycling, natural resources, conservation, climate change and a host of other issues to center this 40th Earth Day around. The idea is to do something. I hope you might plant a tree or spark some interest in a future environmental engineer or research scientist. One of my former students who was engaged by the 20th anniversary is still working in the field. She says the events of Earth Day 2090 ignited her passion for that branch of science. We planted a tree, cleaned up a park and grew a new scientist. Let’s see what we can do for Earth Day number 40.