Archive for the ‘Environmental Science’ Category

Trophic Levels Lesson

Here’s a lesson based on the FOSS Populations & Ecosystems curriculum. It is basically a summary of the unit with a really fantastic bead model of the 10% Rule!

And just to give you an idea of what 1111 beads look like:

General Motors [GM] Education Resources

I just discovered that GM has an incredible wealth of resources for educators!

First, there’s Teach Green, the education blog. It is written by science and technology teachers with tips and commentary on teaching students to be environmentally literacy. As written on the website:

This section of GM Education was created as a gateway for “green” educators to share their experiences and inspirations for teaching lessons about the environment. To educate. To inspire. To, well, teach green.

You can contribute your ideas a stories by emailing

Second, the general education page for GM is chalk-full of excellent resources for energy and environmental lessons for all grades:

  1. About GM Education Page
  2. Grade Appropriate Resources – Separated into K-4, 5-8, and 9-12, this section gives students, parents, and teachers resources related to energy and the environment.
  3. Lesson Plans – fantastic plans for teachers that are interactive and interdisciplinary in nature.
  4. Games include topics such as the environment, science and engineering, general knowledge, and word games.
  5. Teach Green – education and energy blog written by educators.
  6. Coloring Pages for kids related to cars, energy, the environment, and our planet.
  7. Photos from the 2010 Auto Shows

I am really looking forward to getting to know this resource better – I am certain that students will enjoy it as well!

Earthquakes and Tsunamis

Coincidental to the earthquake in Chile and tsunami in Hawaii, my class is studying waves. On Wednesday we even studied the refraction of water waves and discussed tidal waves. I am glad we discussed the formation of tidal waves before this occurred so my students have a scientifically literate knowledge of what is happening.

We watched this video of an annual tidal wave and discussed that large waves are created when a large amount of energy in the deep-sea is forced into a more shallow area, causing a higher amplitude and faster wave velocity.

The important difference between a tidal wave and a tsunami is the initiation of the energy of the wave. Tidal waves are generated the same way as tides – by the changing distance between the earth and the moon. Tsunamis are caused mainly by earthquakes.

Most people think of a tsunami as a The Day After Tomorrow-sized wave that will take out all of lower Manhattan.

I guess the possibility of that happening one day is not out of the question, but tsunamis are not classified by being at least 30 meters tall. In the case of this tsunami, the amplitude of the waves have not increased more than 1 meter every 20 minutes. This might be the greatest change in amplitude that is observed.

The biggest concern with this storm is that the major changes in tides could cause an extremely caustic environment for the flora and fauna within the ocean.

The reason I’m writing tonight is not to teach you about tsunamis, but to stress the importance of using every opportunity to provide our students with an education rich in scientifically literate experiences. Watching the news today, I have heard too many people panic that a tsunami means ginormous wave that will inevitably destroy everything. I shutter at the idea that these people went to school for at least twelve years and never had a science lesson that corrected the “2012” inspired misconceptions about tsunamis.

This is why I teach science – to give students an opportunity to learn about the world around them.

NOTE: It may seem that your content area is not suitable for teaching about tsunamis (especially if you’re not a geology or earth science teacher!), but if I could work it into a physics lesson, you can work it into any science course! A biology class could discuss  the effect of the tsunami on the ecosystem of the Hawaiian Pacific Ocean, as could an environmental course.  A chemistry class could discuss how the changing chemical composition of the ocean will affect the organisms. Any way you do it, you’re giving your students a priceless exposure to scientific current events!

Posts for Teachers 2/11/10

Technology Stuff:

Teaching Tips:

Lesson Planning Stuff:

Other Stuff:

What Happens To Your Trash?

Ever wonder what happens to your trash? So did a bunch of MIT researchers! In an effort to learn more about the efficiency of recycling and trash in America, they devised a way to track pieces of trash. The data has not all been compiled yet, but you can read more about the study on CNN.

Geology: End of Unit Project and Activities

I just finished writing a lesson plan for the end of a middle school Geology Unit. The basic idea is to give kids the opportunity to apply their knowledge of sedimentary layers to digging and drilling wells. There is a power point that shows pictures of clear and colorful sedimentary layers in Nevada as well as of oil rigs, which initiates the discussion and exploration of the techniques and tools involved in drilling for oil. The class then transitions to the discussion of clean water and the problems associated with dirty water in developing countries.

Students begin learning about the organization Charity:Water, which raises money to provide wells in the villages of  several developing countries and also sponsors a project for school children to raise money for wells to be dug at village schools.

An in class investigation involves students “drilling” through several layers of food or other materials to get to the water source at the bottom. They must keep the water as clean as possible and assess their success. In the end, students will apply their learning and knowledge to a campaign to raise money for schools in developing nations to have clean water.

Get it here:

Science Careers: New England Forestry Foundation

Location: New England Forestry Foundation, Massachusetts

Job Description: The New England Forestry Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the conservation and sustainable management of the forest lands of New England. Work extends from Maine to Connecticut, with diverse forest types from northern hardwoods to pines and wetlands in rollings hills and mountains, with numerous streams and ponds. This position is designed to mentor future natural resource professionals focusing on forest conservation and management. It is structured to give exposure to a wide array of experiences in resource management.

Position Description: Interns gather data using GPS; monitor conservation easements, use GPS to map boundary line locations and use photo documentation of protected properties and compile basic maps of the properties (GIS, tax maps, topographic maps, etc.); conduct forest inventory, boundary maintenance, maintain trails and perform public outreach

Note: A close friend of mine recently worked with NEFF for three months. She attended college for Environmental Science and is planning to go to graduate school for Biology Conservation.

Chevy Volt

I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials for the Chevy Volt lately:

The one that plays on is only an animation of the number “230”, which is the estimated MPG for the Volt. I’ve been wondering how that’s possible, until I read a recent post by Dot Physics.

In “Chevy Voltology“, he goes into some detail about the specs of the Volt, as well as graphing the cars actual efficiency. You should check it out!

Other related posts are “The Law of Diminishing Returns, the Chevy Volt, gas milage, and hot air“, King of the Road writes a detailed evaluation of the Volt’s supposed efficiency and compares it to that of other small, fuel efficient cars.

On Good Math, Bad Math, author Matt writes a great post on how Chevy decided to use the “230 MPG” as part of their campaign and does the math to prove it. His post “The Chevy Volt gets 230 mpg? Only if you use bad math” was very clarifying!

This would be a great assignment for any physics class!

Technology Resources for the Science Classroom

I’ve been collecting all sorts of different posts and links for neat internet and technology resources for the classroom. I hope they’re useful!

Can you tell I think Educational Technology Guy’s posts are terrific?

Electricity Producing Bugs!

I just found this really neat article about a bug that produces electricity as part of it’s digestion.

So cool – check it out!