Sustainability Education Resources

Sustainability Education Resources

Climate Change, Climate Justice + Sustainability lesson plans and supporting resources:

 

 

Environmental + Sustainability Education Organizations + Publications

 

Educator Professional Development: Workshops + Support

 

California and Bay Area Sustainabilty Initiatives

 

Other Environmental + Sustainability Education Resources

Have feedback about the resources or more you’d like to share?
We’d love to hear from you!

CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network
Understanding Climate Change
A People's Curriculum for the Earth
Extreme Weather and what to do about it
Green Teacher magazine
Project Learning Tree Environmental Education Guide
UN Sustainable Development Goals
The EverGreen Twins Activity Book
The Story of Stuff
Albedo, Melting Ice, and Feedback Loops Lesson Plan

Albedo, Melting Ice, and Feedback Loops Lesson Plan

In BAESI’s new “Albedo, Melting Ice, and Feedback Loops Lesson Plan” lesson, students gain experience with the scientific method while they do two experiments to learn about how changing the reflectivity of Earth’s surface materials and feedback loops impact Earth’s systems: Students gain experience with the scientific method while they do two experiments to learn about how changing the reflectivity of Earth’s surface materials and feedback loops impact Earth’s systems:

  1. Albedo (differences in reflectivity of surfaces)
  2. Melting of ice on land and sea
  3. Feedback loops

First, the class goes outside to observe the phenomenon of albedo first-hand. Then they design experiments to test the important role albedo plays in determining how much incoming solar radiation is absorbed by a substance. They create diagrams to illustrate the process and the concept of feedback loops.

In Part II of the lesson, students investigate two ways that the melting of ice impacts Earth’s systems. They test how floating ice in a container (representing sea ice) and ice melting from outside a container (representing ice on land) affect the container’s water level.

  • Students discover that melting land ice (glaciers) raises sea level, but the melting of sea ice does not.
  • Melting sea ice does, however, reduce albedo and thus lead to more absorption of solar radiation and more warming.

They connect their results to the concept of a positive feedback loop and how it can greatly magnify the impact of an initial change in a system, in this case how warming leads to melting ice, lowered albedo, and more warming.  Enrich / Extend activities are listed to help you meet the needs of all learners.

Guiding Questions

  • How does the reflectivity (albedo) of different substances affect the amount of energy they absorb?
  • How does melting of ice in the sea and on land affect Earth systems
  • How can feedback loops impact Earth’s systems?
  • How can changes in albedo and the amount of ice impact Earth’s climate and vice versa?

Objectives

  • Students will plan an experiment to:
    • Test the effect of albedo on the temperature of different substances.
    • Help them understand how the reflectivity of different types of planetary surfaces can have enormous impact on Earth’s systems.
  • Students will create models of sea ice and glaciers in two containers, testing how the melting of each affects water levels.
  • Students will form hypotheses about the possible connections between albedo, melting ice, and sea level and communicate their ideas orally and in writing.
  • Students will be able to explain the connections among albedo, meltingice, sea level, feedback loops, and climate change orally and in writing.

The lesson is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) & Common Core State Standards, as well as California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts. We hope you and your students enjoy the simulation and other activities and we’d love to hear your feedback!

 

"Albedo, Melting Ice, and Feedback Loops" lesson plan
Student shadows on pavement
Iceberg
Modeling Seafloor Spreading Lesson Plan

Modeling Seafloor Spreading Lesson Plan

In BAESI’s new “Modeling Seafloor Spreading” lesson, students create models which show the formation of new oceanic crust through seafloor spreading and its destruction in subduction zones. They incorporate the concept of magnetic polarity reversal evident in the seafloor, one of many important pieces of evidence supporting the theory of plate tectonics. Extend / enrich activities are listed at the end of the lesson, including potential connections to life and physical science concepts and ways to incorporate current research on the possible links between seafloor spreading and climate change.

Guiding Questions

  • What are some ways that the Earth is always changing?
  • How is new seafloor created?
  • How can seafloor provide evidence that the polarity of Earth’s magnetic field has reversed periodically through time?
  • Can changes in the climate affect the seafloor and vice versa?

Objectives

  • Students will create models of ocean spreading centers and subduction zones.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding of the following scientific principles through writing and discussion:
    • Seafloor spreading and how new seafloor is created and destroyed
    • How seafloor provides evidence that the polarity of Earth’s magnetic field has reversed periodically through time
  • Optional: Students will read about current research into the possible connections between seafloor changes and the climate, then form hypotheses to predict the possible connections between the seafloor and climate change.

The lesson is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) & Common Core State Standards, as well as California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts. We hope you and your students enjoy the simulation and other activities and we’d love to hear your feedback!

 

Modeling Seafloor Spreading Lesson Plan
Modeling the Formation of Ocean Currents

Modeling the Formation of Ocean Currents

In BAESI’s new “Modeling the Formation of Ocean Currents” lesson, students do experiments with models of ocean saltwater, cold seawater, and warm water to help them understand how cold water and salty water are denser than warm and less salty water. This prepares them to understand the important process of the “great conveyor belt” of water and energy through Earth’s interconnected global ocean. The lesson is designed for grade 5-12 students, with a variety of Enrich / Extend activities listed at the end of the lesson to help you meet the needs of all learners. For instance, it is applicable to high school chemistry and physics classes, as well as earth science classes.

Guiding Questions

  • How and why does ocean water move?
  • Why is that process important for life on Earth?
  • How might the process be changing due to human activities?
  • How can we help restore balance to thermohaline circulation patterns on Earth?

Objectives

  • Students will measure salt accurately to create saline solutions to model seawater of different salinity levels.
  • Students will experiment with different saline solutions and freshwater and demonstrate understanding that increasing salinity increases water density.
  • Students will create models of warm and cold seawater and slowly mix them together, then demonstrate understanding of how decreasing
    water temperature increases its density.
  • Students will form hypotheses to predict the results of their experiments, record their observations, and compare the results with their predictions in writing.

The lesson is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) & Common Core State Standards, as well as California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts. We hope you and your students enjoy the simulation and other activities and we’d love to hear your feedback!

 

Adapted from “Great Ocean Conveyor Belt.”
NOAA: pubs.usgs.gov/pp/p1386a/images/gallery-2/
full-res/pp1386a2-fig31.jpg

Sea Ice, Glaciers and Sea Level Rise

In these documents, teachers are given two examples of a similar activity. Think about how you can modify activities to make them more or less structured using these examples, and try them out in the classroom!

Clicking the links will download the files.

Sea Ice, Glaciers, and Sea Level Rise lesson (.PDF)
Sea Ice, Glaciers, and Sea Level Rise – more structured (.DOC)
Sea Ice, Glaciers, and Sea Level Rise – less structured (.DOC)

California Education and the Environment Initiative

California Education and the Environment Initiative is free, state-sponsored K-12 curriculum that teaches science and history-social science standards through an environmental lens.

JASON Learning

JASON Learning offers complete STEM curricula sets, as well as professional training for instructors.

“JASON Learning’s mission is to inspire and educate students everywhere through real STEM and exploration. We place students in challenging real-world situations where they are connected with and mentored by leading STEM professionals.”