According to environmentalists ,like politician Al Gore, the world we leave our children with may be much different than the one we currently have due to environmental consequences. It is important to educate the upcoming generation in environmental science so that they are well equipped to deal with these coming changes.
Have your class discuss the harmful and helpful uses of fire. Discuss environments like the savanna, prairie and jack pine forest which require fire to maintain themselves and how those in control of the area must occasionally set a fire to reset the natural balance there. Ask your students to think about the environmental consequences of this. Ask them questions related to what materials are needed to start a fire, what happens to the air after part of a forest is burned and how the temperature change of the planet affects these forests. Have your students split into groups and do a report on various aspects of these "prescribed burns" of the forests and their environmental implications.
This activity requires that all students have access to a computer. This interactive Internet unit focuses on garbage and what we can do about it as a community. Divide your students into groups and have them read the sections of the unit on solid waste, sewage and hazardous waste and the potential solutions of each. Tell each group that they are the new governing committee that must rule on the solution needed to solve the garbage problem in their community. Have them create a list of pros and cons and come up with a proposal to make to the governor (you) about why the decision you've made is the best one.
There have been many conservationist books that have made a big impact on the world. Have your class read one of the most famous and formative, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Discuss how this book has affected the world and the changes it enacted. Divide your class into groups and assign each group a different conservationist book like Sand County Almanac, Endangered Species, Spill! The Story of the Exxon Valdez and have them read and discuss the book over several class periods. Each group must research how the book changed the world or environmental policy. They will then create a group essay and presentation about the book and about the effects it made on society. By presenting each book in front of the class, your students will learn a lot more about environmental causes and the people who began the fight.
Aquatic Organisms and pH
Discuss the concept of pH and how it can vary in different sources of water and within organisms themselves. If you have access to a lab, have your students test the pH and the oxygen levels in some lake water and in the microorganisms that can be found in the water. Test to see how the water and the organisms change when they are put in a more acidic solution. Ask the students if the microorganisms are healthier or become more damaged. Talk about why pollution in the air and water increases acidity. Have your students discuss what impact an increased pH would have on the aquatic life of the world.
- Forest fire image by Sergey Yakovenko from Fotolia.com