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Welcome to our new Environmental Science - part 2 !!
I'm looking forward to the next year as all of our Enviro Inspired Colleagues join us to share their discoveries, suggestions, and resources.
Enjoy your week, Alyce
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I have enjoyed visiting and posting on a new thread, "Tree Observations" - it was mistakenly posted in the "Earth Science" forum - so I'm hoping to bring those readers over and continue their spirited discussions and swapping of ideas on our new thread!
I've assembled a collection that may be of interest to contributors from the "Tree Observations" discussion thread.
Please share your inquiry based, observation lessons that have worked well in your classroom. Enjoy!
7 Billion Humans:
The UN is reporting an estimated human population of 7 Billion humans on planet earth today (Mon. Oct. 31, 2011).
The power of exponential population growth is astonishing. I remember not so long ago (1999), we were discussing the 6 Billion mark. The data indicate that in 1960 there were an estimated 3 Billion people on the planet.
Let's start a discussion on the environmental implications of 7 Billion humans on the planet.
What changes would be required for this population to live sustainably?
(Note - population estimates vary, the US Census, for example, estimates the World Population will not reach 7 Billion for about 4 more months).
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The more astonishing number that I have heard is that the 7 billionth baby was most likely born in India, where a baby is born every 1.2 seconds. Something has to be done to curb population growth or it is going to have dire consequences. When we were discussing this in my bio class we had already talked about population growth in ecosystems/carrying capacity and such. I showed them the human population graph and I asked them, "When we looked at those population graphs last week, what did we usually see after a spike like this?" and the kids all answered, "a huge die off." And then I said this a graph of the human population over the past 500 years...and they were all pretty shocked. It then became a discussion of when the big die off would happen.
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Hi Enviro Friends,
Dorothy, you have suggested an excellent conversation for our students to have. My 6th graders are beginning their Environmental unit soon.
Chris, your example and suggestions of comparing animal population growth to human population growth data for analysis will make a powerful and easily understandable impact on them. Do you have a favorite "kid friendly" site(s) that you use when gathering any of your data?
Thank you for sharing, Alyce
I don't have a website per say. I have attached one of the graphs I used to show population changes in a predator/prey situation. I also really get into the discussion of the wolf/moose population study on Isle Royale. They have an interactive population graph here: http://vicksta.com/wolf%20and%20moose%20graph7.html. You can see the spikes and the drop offs clearly there, but also show the shadow of the predator increase after the prey increase. I also attached my powerpoint I used for the discussion of the human growth. There's not a lot there, but it turned into being a much more discussion based period. I guess the powerpoint is too big or something, if you want you can send me a message and I'll email it to you. I also attached a fun activity I found online with a Rabbit/Wolf population. You go out to a field and you have rabbits, resources, and wolves and you count the population changes. It really shows the die off as the rabbits increase in size and resources dwindle. THe wolves are introduced later.
Population_Graph.jpg (0.05 Mb)
I guess the lab didn't get attached.
Rabbit_Population_Lab.pdf (0.07 Mb)
It is amazing that we have reached the 7 billion mark and it seems very likely what Chris' class has concluded about a big die off. The question is when. With the unequal distribution of resources in the world today it seems likely that some populations will be harder hit than others. Another topic I bring up in my class is not only do we have a population growth but we also have large populations raising their standards of living to a more "American" lifestyle which maybe a bigger threat to resources than just the sheer numbers of humans. I haven't gotten to my population unit yet but last year I had the students not only calculate growths in populations of the 15 largest economies but had them calculate how much impact (hectares needed to support the population) if those populations led an American lifestyle. The students reasonably concluded that there was no way the American lifestyle could be sustained by all of humanity.
With the growth of the BRIIC (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia and China) nations economies and the higher standard of living they are entitled to, the threat to resources are even greater. The real question that needs to be answered is: How can we (humanity) raise everyone's standard of living while minimizing the impact on resources, the American model would mean certain environmental chaos. Is it even possible?
Colin Delos Reyes
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The issue is how can we continue to increase the world's standard of living sustainably. It may be the 7 billionth baby was born in India, the demands that child will place on the planet are a small fraction of that of an American baby. Can our relatively small population continue to use the equivalent of several planets of resources; worse, can the rest of the world increase their standard of living to that of the western world, as we might expect of developing nations like India, and in the future, the developing African continent. Are we willing to adjust our expectations? It is not just a matter of decreasing population, but of learning to live sustainably.
I recently had my students complete an ecological footprint. I think many were surprised by the amount of resources required for their lifestyle. I was a bit dismayed to see the ambivalence of most toward the required resources to support them, and the perceived inability to change.
I would suggest that if you are not already having your students do an ecological footprint activity, this would be a good start. There are many good ones available online, including
http://myfootprint.org/en/ and http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/ as a couple to start.
Our children may be the first generation in several to experience a standard of living that has a standard of living that is lower than our own, as the standards of the rest of the world rise to meet ours. Just a thought.
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I'm reading the book "The Flooded Earth," right now. Its a bit dry, I can only handle a little bit at a time, but some of the stuff it brings to your attention are mind boggling. It has to do with what will happen if the Greenland and Antartic Ice Sheets melt and sea level rise.
But on the American lifestyle front the book had a data chart that blew my mind.
India population 1.15 billion = 11 cars per 1,000 eligible drivers
China Population 1.33 billion = 9 cars per 1,000 eligible drivers
US Population 307 million = 1,148 cars per 1,000 eligible drivers
If India and China were to reach our level of car ownership, the results would be catastrophic as far as CO2 levels go.
For population dynamics, in our House we did an interdisciplinary unit. In social studies they were learning about how certain countries social issues are affecting law and legislative policy like in China (controversial one child policy). The students had to make a model of the entire Earth (like with styrofoam, play doh, etc) and then they put figures of small people on each country. Maybe one figure would represent 1 million people or something. This gave them an idea of a visual way to understand how overpopulated some countries are.
In science we read articles on sustainability and how overpopulation affects how many people a particular environment can support.
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7 Billion -
National Geographic magazine is doing a special series on 7 Billion and has some wonderful videoclips (short - 3 min or so) that are great for generating class discussion.
7 Billion Special series information http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/7-billion
Dorothy thanks for sharing these clips, these are exactly what I've been looking for to start our 7 billion discussion. I will use them in my class to generate discussion and follow-up research.
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Here are some links to additional activities that you may find useful
The population education center has some wonderful activities that talk about carrying capacity, habitat loss, and other population-related issues. They often present at conferences and workshops.
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Wow!! I've discovered a free app from National Geographic entitled, "7 Billion". I'm thinking many of the video clips that are found online are included in this application.
I'm not one of the fortunate teachers that currently has iPads available for student use, but if you do...this one is so well crafted and engaging.
Enjoy your week, Alyce
I attended the webinar offered this evening on migration offered by NOAA. Although the field study base is in Oregon, the goals and strategies may be applied to any area where there are habitats for migrating birds. Great resources were identified and some point to field studies done outside the classroom with bird houses and bird feeders. I encourage interested readers to view the archived webinar and/or enjoy the powerpoint from the presentation attached below entitled Journey of the Birds.
Journey_of_the_Birds_Powerpoint.ppt (7.84 Mb)
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Hi all -
Great discussion! Have any of you implemented Ishmael (by Daniel Quinn) in your Environmental Science curriculum? It doesn't deal with our population in terms of numbers but our population in terms of feeling as though we are the gods of the earth. I would love to hear how you've used it in Environmental Science and what discussions you've had using the book and current events (such as our recent population report).
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[color=blue]attended the webinar offered this evening on migration offered by NOAA. Although the field study base is in Oregon, the goals and strategies may be applied to any area where there are habitats for migrating birds. Great resources were identified and some point to field studies done outside the classroom with bird houses and bird feeders. I encourage interested readers to view the archived webinar and/or enjoy the powerpoint from the presentation attached below entitled Journey of the Birds.
Patty and migration of bird followers,
A science friend posted this video on Startling Mururation. I just found this so, well, UPLIFTING.............
A starling flock like this is called a murmuration, a word that perfectly describes the rustle of thousands of pairs of wings. Starling murmurations are one of the most dazzling [i]displays in the natural world, as the flock changes shape, one minute like a colossal wisp of smoke, the next a tornado, the next a thundercloud blocking the light.
The huge gatherings, biggest in winter, are boosted by thousands of birds that come to Britain's milder Atlantic climate to escape the harsh cold of the European continent, especially in Scandinavia. There are several reasons to get together in the way they do – safety in numbers, information exchange (if some come back from a good feeding area others may learn of it) and warmth at night through roosting together. The birds may feed up to 20 miles from their winter roost but return each evening.
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
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Wow, thanks for the great resources again everyone! I'm not sure my students are quite ready for the discussion on "7 million", but I definitely have it on my radar. I was able to quickly able to look over the websites that you suggested Patricia and they look awesome. I think it would be great practice for my students in mathematics as well. I am always looking for "real life" data to work with and the website has great links to pull from. I think that information combined with the great resource that Jennifer shared on ecological footprints could really get a great discussion going on the impact of human population growth. Thanks again everyone for the great posts and resources!
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I did a combined math science lesson on the human population growth curve. I incorporated the difference between the linear and exponential functions. The students were engaged and seemed to really comprehend the rate at which our population is growing. We discussed some of the potential technological solutions to overcoming some of the limiting factors to our growth, but I think all the kids realized that something had to be done. Some of them took the graph out to 2100 and beyond and the curve went right off the page.
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One thing that I find interesting is that students are amazed by how fast the population is growing, and the obvious response is something like "we've got to stop population growth in Africa, or China, or India," which is obviously true. How do you get the message across though that the Western world, though small in size,is using more of the resources and creating more pollution than the rest of the world combined. Our population is small, but reduction of our population would have a greater impact. And the resource use by those third world countries is increasing to model our use. How do we get that point across?
Arlene - Thank you 1st for sharing information about Starling Flocks! For those of you that were unable to follow Environmental Thread Part 1, we held several conversations on winter's effects wildlife, posting of webcam sites during the spring as eaglets hatched and bear cubs began to wander from their den. Please check Environmental Studies Part 1 and you will locate an immense amount of engaging activities and amazing weblinks!
Loren, I looked at your LC Profile and see that you teach in Waipahu High School. Where is Waipahu? I am intrigued about your suggestion of modeling population growth through the activity of placing playdough on a globe model and identifying population growth with the small people! What an engaging activity for my middle school students. I'm thinking that activity would also work well to plot volcanoes, earthquakes, and endangered animals. So much more meaningful than marking a map on paper for my Special Needs students. What type of model did you use to represent the earth?
Enjoy the holiday weekend, Alyce
The past two weeks have been pretty busy in my middle school science classes leading up to Winter Break. I am excited to have time to browse through the discussion threads and spark ideas to use during 2nd semester with my alternative students.
Vincent - Blending Math and Science lessons is not only fun for us...but you discovered how much our students enjoy "witnessing" how STEM subjects actually do connect. Great teaching must have been happening in your classroom for your students to be engaged and carry the population graph to 2100!
Patricia - You noted the archived NSTA WebSeminar, "NOAA: Journey of the Birds." I listened and watched the archived seminar, and you are correct in noting that it has an immense amount of engaging information. I used many of the images in building a powerpoint presentation that will be geared towards Corado's State Standards. I added much of the educational information and project ideas printed on the slides to the notes section of my powerpoint slides.
We see large flocks of Canadian Geese flying over our school right now, and on Thursday about 100 landed on our softball diamond for a rest. They looked almost regal when they lifted in flight and glided into their positions to continue their journey.
Enjoy your week! Alyce
Oops, I wanted to let all of you know about an awesome addition to NSTA's Archived WebSeminars! When I entered the archived seminars (accessed through the blue link located under the NSTA Learning Center banner) I searched the NOAA sponsered seminars. (I'm so glad Patricia mentioned NOAA as the seminar resource!)
Along with the links the seminar and powerpoint presentation, NSTA also offers a link to a collection of resources. These collections are developed by NSTA to accompany their seminar courses.
Bravo!! Another great NSTA resource that supports us in locating quality resources and saves me a lot of time searching and evaluating the quality of material!
I just want to share to those who have not taken the scipack on Resources and Human Impact. Population, limited resources, environmental pollution, and many more are beginning to take over "world peace". This is a timely lesson that humanity should focus on finding solutions.
Resources and Human Impact (SciPack)
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This SciPack Sounds/appears very interesting. I have not engaged in this topic as of yet, since I have been researching topics that I teach in my classroom. I do see how these resources are connected to everything we know and do, and I most certainly hope to interact with this SciPack some time in the future. Thanks for sharing.
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Just wanted to share an awesome resource for teaching human population growth. It's obviously not my own!! But I definately loved using many of the activities for high school.
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Cool site alert!
ARKive is the ultimate multimedia guide to the world's endangered animals, plants and fungi using resources from the world's best filmmakers, photographers, conservationists and scientists. Students can use the site to research an endangered species.
Resources can be searched by:
-Topics (Climate change, Endangered species, Jewels of the UAE)
-Geography (World map, Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia/Oceania, Europe, North America, South America)
-Conservation Status (Extinct,Extinct in the Wild,Critically Endangered,Endangered, Vulnerable)
Other things you can find on this site:
Fun stuff-animal masks, animal origami, online games, top ten lists,e-cards, and an archive of "gross", "weird", and "funny animal videos
A MUST SEE! Please check out the education resources. They are organized by age. Resource include teacher notes, classroom presentation materials, and handouts.
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To be honest I didn't really know what "Environmental Science" consisted of. However as I read all of your posts and website suggestions, it gives me a better idea of what it is. I really like what I see because it seems to me that it has to do with information on how to save our earth and learning more about the earth we live on. It talks about everything from climate change and the endangered species we have. It also looks at global warming and how it affects everything on our planet. I also had a chance to check out the site that Dawn put up called http://www.arkive.org/. It has a wide range of cool ideas and activities for kids. I really liked how they show actual videos of animals in the wild. I think that is one of the best ways for students to learn. Right now I am teaching my students about the food chain/web and I think this website will be a great tool to use to help me teach my students. They really emphasize their pictures and videos. They also make things easier by breaking activities down according to their age. Thanks Dawn for your great website!
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My 4th grade students are currently learning about sustainability and have been making connections with the Hawaiian culture through a taro planting project. Although we have been discussing this concept in terms of the impacts on our situation in Hawaii, I had been trying to help them to understand why this is also important globally. I had not thought of making connections to the global population and the challenges our planet faces with sustaining the current population numbers until I read what was being posted here. The posts have given me some ideas on how to make the connection for my students. I am also wondering if anyone may have any suggestions on making cultural connections for sustainability. The students have been thoroughly excited with learning about how a single taro plant can be used as a food source and continually replanted. It would be nice to have the students make comparisions with another culture whose beliefs parallel those of the Hawaiian people.
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I was wondering if anyone had a good lesson or idea to do for 4th graders in Enviromental Science. Since this is my first year teaching 4th grade, the standards are new to me and I wanted to see what kinds of great ideas you have. Some of the standards include, 4.3.2 Interdependence: Describe how an organisms behavior is determined by its environment and 4.5.3 Unity and Diversity: Describe how different organisms need specific environmental conditions to survive. If you have any old worksheets, websites, or clever ideas, then I would love to hear them. I would really appreciate it. Thank you!
Is anyone doing environmental science who also teaches third grade? I love the fourth grade taro idea since I also live in Hawaii. I am studying environmental science because we do an anchialine pond inquiry project all year round. I am always looking for additional resources to add to our project. We study invasive species, water sheds, anchialine ponds, oceans, pollution, and recycling.
And wow the environmental thread from last year took me quite a while to read through! Quite an amazing post.
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Hawaiian Culture and Environmental Science
Wendy-Teaching sustainability is very important. I really like how you are incorporating Hawaiian culture in you science unit, especially since it is a part of the fourth grade curriculum. Our forth graders went on a field trip to visit Waimea Valley. Students were able to learn about Hawaiian culture and environmental stewardship. The program they participated in was called E Malama I Ka Aina. Their programs are aligned to the HCPSIII and cost about $5.00 per student. The teachers at our school really felt this was a great experience for their students.
Another great “environmental” field trip on Oahu is Paepae O Heeia, the Heeia Fishpond. They have tours and service-learning projects. I have done a few volunteer work days at the fishpond and was able to learn about the different species of fish as well as the history of fishponds in ancient Hawaii.
It has been suggested that to teach environmental science with my third graders, I should focus on:
Standard 2: The Scientific Process: NATURE OF SCIENCE: Understand that science, technology, and society are interrelated
Topic Science, Technology, and Society
Benchmark SC.3.2.1 Describe ways technologies in fields such as agriculture, information, manufacturing, or communication have influenced society
I am going to be using the SciPack Resources and Human Impact. I will keep everyone posted of ideas I come up with. Please let me know if you have any ideas as well.
"How do you get the message across though that the Western world, though small in size,is using more of the resources and creating more pollution than the rest of the world combined. Our population is small, but reduction of our population would have a greater impact. And the resource use by those third world countries is increasing to model our use. How do we get that point across?"
One thing I use in my class is the book "Material World - A Global Family Portrait" by Peter Menzel. It has photos of families and their possessions in different countries. I ask students to identify items in the families, discuss resources used in producing those items and possible environmental impacts of producing/using those items, and use the data to compare population & consumption in richer vs. less developed countries. I think the photos really get the message thru to the students that consumption, not population, is the greater issue.
Thanks Sharon for the idea of using photos to really put the differences in cultures into perspective. I wonder if an exchange program of some sort might exist in which students from vastly different cultures could experience the others' culture first hand, even if for just a short time. This would be a real eyeopener for the students. I do worry that as the developing world strives to be more like us, the overconsumption on the Earth will be so drastic as to lead to devastating consequences. If its not already there now. This will be our students world as they grow up. They need to think about it now.
I want to share what we will be doing April 20 for Earth Day. Last year we did a community clean up with 400 middle schoolers. The community loved it. I worked with the village administrator to develop a map of the clean up area (about 13 square miles) the owners of the areas were contacted for permission to clean their land. The student recoverd appliances, plastic, cans and all types of garbage which the village then picked up and disposed of. This year we will again be cleaning the town but we have added field trips to the garbage disposal company, water treatment and waste water plants in town. Our students will be making informational videos of the trips to educate the community about where their garbage and water go. We will also be creating art from recycled materials, having master gardeners and water specialists giving presentations. It is all part of our greater Linving With Purpose theme.
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Im going to take a chance and try to start a discussion. My big question is, "Why aren't we required in the State of Hawaii to recycle?" Honestly I don't think that we should be rewarded 5 cents to recycle just to give people an incentive to recycle. Instead we should just recycle because we want a better planet. I understand that all humans like rewards but I feel that we should look at the future of our planet, not only for ourselves but for our kids and so on. On think I saw on the news a while back was how the state was running out of room for our trash so we wanted to send it to California (or some other state) and have them take care of our trash. I couldn't believe it because we live on such a tiny rock but yet we are shipping our trash somewhere else. How embarassing. I hope i'm not sounding angry but I just wanted to see what others thought or felt. Thank you!
Well the five cents you get back from your cans is the return of the deposit on the cans. WHen you buy them you pay a 5 cent deposit on each can, and that gets returned when you recycle.
yes that is true. I forgot about that. However, I wish that we had to recycle everything we can. Also sometimes I go to the recycling places and they don't take the plastic just because it doesn't say 5 cents on it. I wish they would just recycle it anyways. Thanks Chris!
Hi Jenny, thanks for sharing your middle schooler's Earth Day project. Is this a whole-school project? or only students in certain classes? I would love to hear how the service learning project is organized.
I think your Earth Day project seems like a great idea! Way to get the children invested in their community and learning. Nice job tying the field trips in with the community service.
As we finish off this class I look back at all the new things I learned through the scipacks. They are very time consuming but very informative. The scipacks allowed me to expand on the information I already knew but it also taught me new concepts and ideas that I have never seen before. I learned about weather patterns and what we can do to preserve and take care of our planet. Now that I know we have these sources to use, hopefully I can use them to show and share with my students. I want my students to understand why it is so important for them to take care of our islands/planet because they are the ones who are going to be affected by it in the future. If anyone has any other ideas or resources that they would like to share, I am open to any new advice.
I agree that the SciPacks and SciGuides were very useful. I also want my students to care about the earth and their islands. It would be nice to raise up this generation to take care of the land and sea. I am sure that by introducing lessons early on it will change this generation.
I am attending professional development through TSI and they have a fantastic way to illustrate exponential growth that would work with many grade levels. They use a die (single dice) and paperclips to show what happens when bacteria are exposed to antibiotics and mutate. A little off population, but definitely gets the same kind of point across. If the student rolls a 2-6 the regular bacteria (plain paperclips) die. A 1 they live. Conversely, if they roll a 2-6 with mutated bacteria (colored paperclips) they live, 1's die. Students start with a set population of 18/2 or 19/1 of regular and mutated. Teams complete the lab and the results work out incredibly well to show exponential growth. While we were using this for genetics and mutations, it gives a great visual for showing just how quickly exponential growth expands in a very hands on way.
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A fantastic way to involve your students in sustainability is to have them participate in a CFL exchange at your school. Blue Planet is conducting these exchanges and as a group you collect old incandescents in a one on one exchange for replacement CFL's. In addition they give your club 50 cents for each bulb collected! It is a win-win all the way around! Students are given an overview of sustainability and CFL's from Blue Planet, and then go on to teach the public. Go to http://blueplanetfoundation.org/ and click on the CFL exchange. Fantastic opportunity and our tax dollars are paying for it!
Hello Everyone -
Check out this live webcam on an Eagle Nest.
The buzz is that the eggs should be hatching any time now! Perhaps sometime today (Thurs. April 26th). http://www.livewildlifecams.com/Wolf%20River%20Eagles.html
This is from the Wolf River area in Wisconsin.
Students love seeing these live views of wildlife webcams.
Eaglet Hatch viewed live in classroom on Webcam!
The first eaglet in this nest hatched on Saturday 4/28.
My Biology class was very fortunate to be able to view the second eaglet in the nest hatch out live on webcam on Monday 4/30. It was amazing!
Dove-tailed beautifully with our class, as we are currently studying bird biology and working on Nature Journals.
You can also view Perigrine Falcons and their chicks at http://peregrinefund.org/pages/communications/webcam-peregrine-static.html
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