Resources for PreK-8 Activity 86 – Our Changing World

Patterns of change are evident in the Earth’s global systems, particularly as they relate to both energy and resources. To help students see how changing one aspect of our world affects others, students make a graphic organizer connecting natural resources, energy, and human activities. They also research a global issue, thereby gaining an understanding of some of the issues facing us today as a global society.

This is one of 96 activities that can be found in PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide. To get the activity, attend a training either in person or online and receive PLT’s PreK-8 Guide. Below are some supporting resources for this activity. 

RECOMMENDED READING

Expand your students’ learning and imaginations. Help students meet their reading goals while building upon concepts learned in this activity with the following children’s book recommendations:

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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:

  • Earth Now

    If your students have an Apple or Android device and are interested in Earth Science, Earth Now is a free, 3D app that displays real-time global satellite data of the planet. Students can view carbon dioxide conditions, gravity anomalies, ozone levels over Antarctica, and more. Find more science apps to use with your students in our article 12 Engaging Science Apps for Middle and High School Students and make screen-time fun and educational for them!  

  • Forest Carbon

    Use these Forest Carbon Cycle infographics developed by the U.S Forest Service that show how forests provide an important ecosystem service in the form of carbon sequestration—the uptake and storage of carbon in forests and wood products. Carbon sequestration is essential to reduce the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions and managing forest carbon is becoming more valuable as the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions are becoming more fully understood and experienced.

  • Food and Climate Change

    Understanding Food and Climate Change: An Interactive Guide uses video, photos, and hands-on experiences for educators and students to learn about how food and climate systems interact. Explore how personal choices about food can make a difference. Ideal for grades 6–12, with connections to Next Generation Science Standards and the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies themes, the guide offers activities for student research and resources for further investigation.

  • The Power of Trees

    For a quick estimate of how trees in your area offset carbon emissions, reduce flood risks, and improve air quality, check out this Power of Trees tool developed by Climate Central. Choose your city from the dropdown menu to quantify the benefits of trees in terms of number of tons of CO2 equivalent removed; number of gallons of storm runoff avoided; and number of pounds of air pollution absorbed. The Power of Trees tool utilizes i-Tree software, developed by the U.S. Forest Service, that measures the impact of trees on many scales. PLT recently developed an accompanying Teaching with i-Tree unit for middle and high school students to discover and analyze the many ecosystem services that trees provide. Students input data they collect in their neighborhood to calculate the dollar value of the benefits provided by a tree, or a set of trees. Educators can download this Teaching with i-Tree unit for free.

  • Nature Works

    Did you know that nature works to power the things you depend on every day such as your smartphone, refrigerator, and more! Thanks to energy from the earth we can power all these things. This 5-minute video from PBS Learning Media, Nature Works – To Make Clean Energy discusses sustainable energy sources. It also explains how sustainable energy sources support the environment and minimize harm. Learn more about the benefits of renewable technologies of energy with this video.

  • Investigating Clouds

    Learn more about how clouds form and the important role they play in determining the climate. Create clouds and use lasers to study a cloud in your classroom with Investigating Clouds, a hands-on activity from the Explore Science: Earth and Space toolkit. An accompanying Content Training Video and Activity Training Video will help you teach your students how scientists use lasers to investigate and study clouds. Students are also challenged to be citizen scientists in their own community to help NASA collect important scientific data on clouds such as color, size, height, and more.

  • Animals at Risk from Climate Change Poster

    This poster captures the complex interaction of biological traits and environmental conditions that cause a species to be susceptible to climate change. Thoroughly documented to studies from reliable sources, including the IUCN Climate Change Specialist Group, NASA, NOAA, the US EPA, and the IPCC, the poster features 25 animals that highlight the fundamental impacts of greenhouse gases—causes, effects and risk of extinction—on all forms of life on the planet.

  • Greenland’s Petermann Ice Shelf

    Take a journey to Greenland’s largest ice shelf, in this Washington Post article.  Students can watch or read about a once-doubtful scientist whose first hand experiences changed his mind about the role of climate change in the global environment.  Students can learn about climate research and the types of problems scientist see in the field.   

  • Climate and Health

    Developed over three years by experts in climate-change science and public health The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment examines how climate change is a significant threat to our health.

  • Climate Science: Education and Stewardship Projects

    The NOAA Climate Stewards Education Project (CSEP) provides formal and informal educators working with elementary through university age students with sustained professional development, collaborative tools, and support to build a climate-literate public actively engaged in climate stewardship. CSEP also provides support for educators to develop and execute climate stewardship projects with students to increase understanding of climate science and take practical actions to reduce the impacts of climate change.

  • The Story of Climate Change – Free Interactive Textbook for Grades 5-8

    Earth Day Network has published The Story of Climate Change, an interactive, digital textbook for middle school students. Use this iTextbook with grades 5-8 to teach climate science through multimedia resources that allow students to explore videos, graphs, and animations of forests, coral reefs, and glaciers with a touch of the screen. The book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device. A Teacher’s Guide is also available on Earth Day Network’s website. It includes in-depth activity lesson plans, Next Generation Science Standard Alignments, student action plans, and handy resources to help educators make the most out of every chapter.

  • Carbon Cycle Activity

    Carbon Cycle Activity (similar to “Water Wonders” Water Cycle activity) developed by Carlyn Nichols, PLT educator in Seward, Alaska. Helps relate the carbon cycle to climate change.

  • Climate Change around the World

    An article in BBC News that discusses impacts of global warming in countries around the world and in major sectors of society: health, water, food, ecosystems, coasts, and industry.

  • Earth from Space

    This Smithsonian Institution website  provides students (and teachers!) access to views of conditions and events on earth that are nearly impossible to document from the Earth’s surface. The site proves interactive; explaining how satellite imagery is gathered and used to better understand the world around us.

  • Check Your School’s Climate Impact

    High school students can investigate the link between greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and everyday actions at their high school. Using EPA’s Climate Change Emission Calculator Kit (Climate CHECK) students can learn about climate change, estimate their school’s greenhouse gas emissions and conceptualize ways to mitigate their school’s climate impact.  Students gain understandings of climate-change drivers, impacts, and science; produce an emission inventory and action plan, and can even submit the results of their emission inventory to their school district. You can compare the energy use of your school with other schools nationwide, and earn the ENERGY STAR for your school if it qualifies as a top performer.

  • Zero Carbon

    A free app that can be downloaded for Apple devices. Zero Carbon can calculate an individual’s carbon footprint by looking at a person’s daily habits. Once you know the amount of greenhouse gases your lifestyle is producing, this app offers tips on reducing that number. Zero Carbon also shows how your statistics stack up against world averages, and it can be connected to Facebook, for sharing results.

  • Wind Power Information

    At www.windturbines.net , visitors can join a community of wind energy professionals and access facts, maps, information, videos, and news stories about the use of wind technology worldwide.  Check out this popular video, which describes a propeller-free turbine design that can be used in residential homes

  • Renewable Energy Documentary: Unlimited

    Unlimited, a documentary by OneLight OneCamera Productions about renewable energy, highlights a group of passionate sixth-graders who call on adults everywhere to take action and address global warming. Their voices are supported with those of global warming and energy experts, who discuss upcoming and promising technologies like solar, wind, tidal power, and more. To purchase a copy of the 25-minute film, email OneLightOneCamera@gmail.com or check it out on YouTube for free.

  • Professor Sneeze: Climate Change Stories for Children

    Professor Sneeze stories were developed by the International Polar Foundation.  The interactive climate stories targeted at ages 5-12 explain ways to save energy; while the stories available for 8-12 year olds explain how energy is produced by wind, sun, and water.  Professor Sneeze’s website also features kids craft ideas and photos from areas affected by climate change.

  • The Anthropocene—Human Impact on the Environment Poster

    An epoch is one of the smaller divisions of geologic time. Our current epoch, the Holocene, began about 11,600 years ago. There is evidence that we are entering a new epoch that could be named the Anthropocene because it is marked by extensive human impacts on the environment. This free, downloadable poster explores evidence that future geologists might use to define the Anthropocene. Take this brief survey by November 9th and receive a free printed classroom copy.

  • Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas in Virginia – Webinar and PowerPoint

    Hydraulic fracturing has been used in the oil and gas industry for over 50 years, but in the past decade it has been combined with the relatively new technique of horizontal drilling to gain access to previously inaccessible energy resources. This webinar focuses on hydraulic fracturing in Virginia and the laws, regulations, and agencies governing its use. The PowerPoint slides that accompany this webinar are also available for teacher use.

     

  • Energy Literacy Videos from DOE

    Energy is an abstract and important concept that concerns all things on earth and plays a role in many natural and social science processes. Uncover the power of understanding energy by watching the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Seven Principles of Energy Literacy video series. This series breaks down key information about energy’s functions including flow, amount, and quality, in addition to looking at how quality of life, economics, politics, and environment are affected by how we create and utilize energy. 

  • Energy Zones Mapping Tool

    The Energy Zones Mapping Tool is a free online database that allows users to map existing and potential energy resources in the 39 easternmost states. Users can run site-suitability analyses for a variety of renewable energy sources, including biomass, solar, water, wind, natural gas, geothermal, and nuclear power. Regional, custom maps of existing energy resources and environmental characteristics that impact energy development can also be created using overlapping and interactive layers. This tool is hosted by the Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council (EISPC), among other project partners. 

  • The Boom – Text on Fracking

    Are you looking for support in investigating fracking and other energy issues with high school students? Russell Gold, senior energy reporter for the Wall Street Journal, chronicles the history and rise of the fracking industry in his 2014 book, The Boom. This informational text delves into the pros and cons of the controversial energy extraction technique while offering various perspectives on the subject.  An accompanying Classroom Guide offers critical thinking questions that are an essential learning tool for students.