Everyone has an equal right to a healthy environment—but does everyone have a healthy environment? In this activity, students propose actions to resolve various scenarios and then research issues related to environmental justice in their own state.
To get this activity, and more like this, purchase the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide at Shop.PLT.org and/or attend a professional development training in your state.
Below are some supporting resources for this activity.
Download the copyright free student pages that are included with this activity:
Community Case Studies (All)
The Rest of the Story
Seeking Environmental Justice
Every month we carefully select new tools and resources that enhance PLT’s lessons. These include educational apps, videos, posters, interactive websites, careers information, and teacher-generated materials. Browse a chronological listing below:
NOAA’s Science on a Sphere – Mobile
Download SOS Explorer® Mobile and explore Earth and space from anywhere! Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere® as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. Show animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature to explain complex environmental processes.
Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives
Healthy Trees, Healthy Lives is an interactive poster to learn about the many physical and mental health benefits trees provide in urban areas. Students can also read about how urban forests can improve our physical and mental health and promote healing.
Podcast: Equity Is Key
“Equity Is Key.” Trees Are Key, Episode 309. The first 9-minute segment of this podcast explores how the number of trees in communities is not a minor or aesthetic issue—but one of both quality and longevity of life. It discusses the Tree Equity Score, which can help cities assess any socioeconomic or racial disparities in tree cover and prioritize tree-planting projects. Geared for adults, Trees Are Key is a series of over 300 podcasts by Texas A&M Forest Service. See https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/podcasts/treesarekey/ for the full list.
Addressing Environmental Racism
This article, “To Protect Children of Color, Leaders Must Understand and Address Environmental Racism” discusses the importance of understanding and addressing environmental racism in order to protect children of color. The article also highlights how educators, organizations, and policymakers can make changes to support children and fight environmental racism.
NGSS Correlations for “Environmental Justice for All”
Download “Environmental Justice for All” NGSS Correlations which includes a guiding question, science connections found in the activity, and explicit NGSS correlations. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) define what students should know or be able to do at the end of instruction. This activity provides students opportunities to explore the three dimensions of science to build knowledge and understanding. In addition, activities offer phenomenon-based learning, which involves exploring the real world through learner-centered, multidisciplinary investigations that promote inquiry and problem solving. It is a useful resource even if your state has not adopted NGSS.
Environmental Justice – EPA’s Data and Mapping Tool
EJ SCREEN is an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that combines environmental and demographic indicators to provide interesting and important regional data related to public health and environmental quality. By clicking anywhere on the map, users can view an area’s ozone levels, traffic concentrations, lead paint indicators, and more. EJSCREEN can assist in the identification of rural, urban, and suburban areas that are the most at-risk and it allows users to find correlations between the socioeconomic background of the region and the prevalence of environmental hazards.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Low-Income Communities
Investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate protection programs is an important way for state and local governments to provide a variety of benefits to low-income communities, including energy cost savings, job creation, improved air quality, and healthier homes. EPA’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in Low-Income Communities guide helps state and local staff connect with local and national initiatives that can assist them in expanding or developing their own EE and climate initiatives in ways that benefit low-income communities.
EPA Environmental Justice Blog Highlights Map Tool for Equitable Planning
In this blog post, Makara Rumley writes about the Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas, a map tool showing key areas of community well-being. Learn how this tool can be used to help understand the issues of affecting neighborhoods and encourage equitable policies, development, and planning.
Environmental Justice Video: Reducing Pollution through Organizing
Be inspired by the latest video in EPA’s 20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Video Series that features Penny Newman of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. Penny’s 5-minute video describes the environmental justice concerns of the Inland Valley communities in Southern California, and the ways local residents are making positive changes to protect the health of their families and neighbors.