This document is intended to provide teachers with a starting point for the curriculum assembled for LEED for Schools IDc3: The School as a Teaching Tool. There are many websites dedicated to environmental education and this guide just covers a small portion of those. Research other options and websites in addition to the ones provided in this document. Also check out the websites listed in the Resources section of IDc3.
Educators can take advantage of local opportunities provided by the school’s development choices to develop local field trips which focus on the ecologies surrounding the site.
Compile a plant or animal inventory of the school’s garden. Discovering and observing the ecosystems within a garden provide opportunities for students to become aware of the important relationships between insects, plants and animals.
Ask students questions on plant and animal life. What are some animals and plants that are important for the health of people and other animals? What benefits do these animals and plants provide us that we do not want to do without? What things do these animals and plants need so that they can survive? What should be done to make sure that the plants and animals that we need are healthy? Why do we want some beautiful and rare things to survive?
See the following lesson plan on Plant Classification.
This lesson plan covers the anatomy and life cycles of various plants as well as the methods of classification.
See the following lab on Plant Growth.
This link provides two different experiments for students to observe and document plant germination and cuttings as a means of monitoring the growth of living organisms.
Green roofs cool cities, manage stormwater, clean the air and build habitat. Green roofs provide a fantastic local fieldtrip for students to learn about new urban design techniques which bring cities closer to harmony with nature.
See the American Society of Landscape Architects, The Roof is Growing! website for educational resources for middle school students.
Many individuals, young and old, are unaware of the decline in fresh water resources. Learning about the water cycle emphasizes to students the importance of conservation and becoming aware of individual water use. Water use reduction strategies used within the school can be used to exemplify this increased awareness.
A detailed discussion of the phases and locations water passes through during the entire cycle. Each section has opportunities for more detailed information providing opportunities for simple review or in depth discussion.
Build a lesson around the Water Cycle Game from NOAA, a dice-based game to role play the movement of a molecule of water between the nine different compartments of the water cycle.
These lessons focus on how an individual’s lifestyle choices have an impact upon both the local and the global environment. By examining these impacts and comparing them, it encourages efficiency by doing more with less. Energy strategies, such as Green Power or onsite power generation can be used as evidence of choices which reduce environmental impact.
Game by Safe Routes to Schools: Eco-Points Score Card.
This is an activity which assigns points to daily activities that require fossil fuel or electricity. Students gather in groups and answer questions about their daily activities at home and at school, each group attains an eco-score and the team with the lowest score has the smallest footprint. This game will help students understand the impacts of their daily activities and could translate into thoughtful decision-making
How big is your Footprint?
This is an activity to measure the impact of a person’s choices on the environment. Students are required to go on-line to calculate how many Earths it would take if everyone on the planet lives the way they do. This will provide students with an increased awareness about their activities on the planet.
In a culture which promotes consumption and produces large amounts of waste, educators may seek to increase students’ awareness of how their choices impact the world around them. Teachers have many options available for emphasizing the concepts of using less, reusing and recycling. Any materials or processes used in school construction or renovation which utilize recycled or local materials illustrate these ideas. The following ideas are also worth considering.
A multi-stage project to create a worm compost ecosystem and observe how it operates. Students will make parallel observations to the natural ecosystem with respect to material recycling to understand the importance of reusing and recycling waste products.
See the Keep America Beautiful website on waste reduction and recycling.
A website with multiple resources for educators to bring awareness to the concepts of garbage and waste as well as means for reducing and reusing raw materials. Explore videos and lesson plan ideas relating to garbage, composting and waste-to-energy concepts.
Chemistry is an inescapable part of daily life. Learning about the impacts of modern chemistry on human health can encourage choices which will promote a healthy life. School labs and art rooms are easily identifiable sources of chemicals which can affect health. Systems which handle air quality for such rooms can be used a basis for discussion.
See the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center website for curriculum, lesson plans and activities associated with chemicals and human health. A variety of resources for teachers to increase students’ understanding of the chemicals used in daily
life ranging from agricultural pesticides to tobacco smoke and how they affect the human body.
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