Lesson Plans - Grades 5-8

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New Book: Teaching Green - The Middle Years    
"Teaching Green - The Middle Years: Hands-On Learning in Grades 6-8" is a complete "green" teaching resource for anyone working with young people in grades six to eight, whether inside or outside schools. The book contains over 50 of the best teaching strategies and activities contributed to Green Teacher magazine during the past decade -- all updated and revised for this special anthology.
The URL is: http://www.greenteacher.com

NASA Gives Kids Their Own Guide to Climate Change    
NASA¹s new Climate Kids Web site, targeting grades 4-6, de-mystifies global climate change science using simple illustrations, humor, interactivity, and age-appropriate language. The interactive Climate Time Machine shows how global changes affect our planet over time. Animated feature "Climate Tales" follows a quirky polar bear and monkey as they cope with climate change and humans. Games deliver fun and climate science concepts. Career role models give kids ideas to help build a greener future.
The URL is: http://climate.nasa.gov/kids

Smithsonian Pollution Solution Module (7th grade- 8th grade)    
Smithsonian Education

This series of lessons covers an overview of the origins, benefits, and properties of oil. Students watch a demonstration of what happens during an oil spill. Then they conduct an investigation into clean up methods, followed by an evaluation of the oil spill’s repercussions.

The URL is: http://smithsonianeducation.org/educators/lesson_p...

Oil Spill Activities (6th grade- 8th grade)    
Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Three lessons having to do with oil spills:

Save the Bay

Students watch as their teacher simulates an oil spill. Following the demonstration, groups of students race to figure out the best way to clean up the spill before it reaches land. Students then discuss their observations.


Oil Consumption

Students practice their math skills by calculating how many barrels of oil they and their families consume.


How Big Is An Oil Tanker?

Students learn about the magnitude of an oil spill by studying the size of an oil tanker.

The URL is: http://octopus.gma.org/surfing/human/oilindex.html

Oil Changes Everything (6th grade – 8th grade)    
The LEAGUE- Curriculum Empowered by Learning to Give

In this unit students learn about the origins and properties of oil as well as what humans use it for. They then confront the effects that oil has on water and wildlife. The unit concludes with a discussion of the role students may have in protecting and cleaning our waters.

Oil, Oil Everywhere

Students learn about where oil comes from and what we use it for. Then students witness an in class demonstration of an oil spill.


Oil+ Water= A Mess

Students simulate an oil spill in class. They then observe and reflect the effect that the oil spill would have on plants and animals.


Oil+ Water+ Animals= A Real Mess

Students simulate an oil spill’s effect on animals by dropping oil on feathers and fur specimens. Then students use various methods to try to clean the oil-stained fur and feathers.


Oil+ Water+ Students= Knowledge

In this lesson students create and advertising campaign using paper shopping bags. On the bags students write messages, encouraging others to advocate for legislation that will protect the environment from human caused disasters such as oil spills.

The URL is: http://learningtogive.org/lessons/unit377/

Classroom Activities Relating to Oil Pollution in a Marine Environment (5th grade- 12th gr    
Australian Maritime Safety Authority

A series of classroom activities geared towards topics of oil pollution:

Demonstrating Oil Bioremediation

This exercise allows students to witness the ways bacteria and microorganisms can help break down and disperse oil after an oil spill (oil bioremediation).


Clean Up Oil Spill Excercise

Students experiment different ways to clean up oil spills.


Government Jurisdiction Excercise

Students learn about the government’s responsibility in relation to off shore drilling and oil spill clean up.


Mathematics and Oil Spills

Students use math to understand the severity of an oil spill.

The URL is: http://www.amsa.gov.au/Marine_Environment_Protecti...

Oil Spill Lesson Plan (4th grade)    
Introduction Day

In this lesson students brainstorm what they already know about oil spills. They then discuss as a class what an oil spill is and what impact it has on the environment.


Teams Clean Up a Mini Oil Spill

Students simulate an oil spill in a lab setting. As part of the simulation, students experiment the best way to clean up an oil spill and record the observations and reactions.


Discuss Lab Results

Students discuss the results of their experiments. They then go on to discuss how their experiments relate to real life oil spills.

The URL is: http://www.educ.drake.edu/sci_ed/elem_sci/environ/...

Sediment Penetration Exercise (3rd grade- 8th grade)    

An activity where students observe the penetrating effect of oil on sediment and examine the implications this might have for coastal recovery from an oil spill.

The URL is: http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/topic_subtopi...

Power for Change: An Energy Curriculum for Grades K-12    
The NorthWoods Stewardship Center in Vermont has recently published a 220-page curriculum book focusing on energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy. The book contains 18 interactive lesson plans, over 50 student handouts, extensive background information with figures and data, and a complete energy glossary.
The URL is: http://www.northwoodscenter.org/energycurriculum.h...

New Teacher-tested Model Climate Change Lessons    
The University of Colorado-Boulder is offering a series of teacher-developed and tested model lessons for middle or high school classrooms. This set of model lessons focus on the driving questions:

. Evidence of Climate Change - How would we know if Colorado's climate is changing and how will it affect me?

. Mountain Pine Beetles - Why are our forests dying?

. Zoo Poo - Does burning poo at the Denver Zoo reduce CO2?

. Modeling Climate - What makes you hot?

All of these topics are linked to one or more of five Learn More About Climate videos. Each lesson outlines the essential principles, learning objectives, and Colorado State Science Standards addressed and is accompanied by a variety of classroom materials that can be adapted for learners in grades 5-12.
The URL is: http://learnmoreaboutclimate.colorado.edu/for-educ...

PollinatorLIVE: A Distance Learning Adventure    
While pollinators may come in small sizes, they play a large and often undervalued role in the production of the food we eat, the health of flowering plants, and the future of wildlife. A decline in the numbers and health of pollinators over the last several years poses a significant threat to the integrity of biodiversity, to global food webs, and to human health. PollinatorLIVE: A Distance Learning Adventure will provide a series of live interactive Web casts, Web seminars, and satellite field trips about pollinators, gardening, and conservation. All resources are free and geared toward grades 4–8.
The URL is: http://pollinatorlive.pwnet.org

Easy-to-Use Climate Change Action Projects for K-12 Students    
Facing the Future has released a comprehensive service-learning resource for climate change. The Climate Change Action Project Database includes more than 25 ready-to-use action projects that will prepare students to understand and take action on climate change. The online database provides:

· Meaningful projects to fulfill graduation requirements

· Ideas for transforming classroom learning on into action

· Project details and contact information needed to get started

· Options for projects that take place both on and off school grounds

Thanks to funding from the McKibben Merner Family Foundation, these service-learning projects are accessible free at
The URL is: http://www.facingthefuture.org/ServiceLearning/Cli...

Engaging Students in Conservation Lesson Plans    
Facing the Future, in collaboration with the Snow Leopard Trust, has just released Engaging Students in Conservation: Protecting the Endangered Snow Leopard, an interdisciplinary 1-2 week unit that includes five dynamic lessons and culminates with a service-learning project. The unit is designed for 5-8th grade students in science and social studies. Though the lessons are designed as a comprehensive unit, each lesson can stand alone. This unit, valued at $14.95, is available for FREE download at
The URL is: http://www.facingthefuture.org/Home/CurriculumDeta...

Mystery Class Geography, Science, and Math Project ~ Online    
Teachers and students in grades 4-12 classrooms are invited to participate this winter/spring in Journey North’s Mystery Class project in which students try to find 10 secret classes hiding around the globe using the changing sunlight at each site as the clue. Students develop a deep understanding of important concepts by puzzling them out in real time.
The URL is: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/mclass/About.html...

Curriculum Unit on Climate Change    
Facing the Future is offering Climate Change: Connections and Solutions, a set of two-week interdisciplinary curriculum units for students in grades 6-8 and grades 9-12, in pdf format. Aligned with national science and social studies standards, the lessons begin by building a foundation of understanding climate change and ends with students being able to communicate complex and interconnected issues related to climate change.
The URL is: http://www.facingthefuture.org/Curriculum/Download...

Environmental Surveys for Home and School    
Visit the ThinkEarth Web site for two easy-to-conduct surveys that will help lessen your environmental impact. The home survey can be conducted by family members, and the school survey can be conducted as a class project from grade six and up. Once survey answers are entered online, personalized recommendations are generated to show you how to better "Think Earth." The free, broad-based surveys cover air quality, energy and water conservation, and waste reduction.
The URL is: http://www.thinkearth.org/surveys

Science Friday on NPR    
Every week during the school year, the Kids’ Connection program translates information from National Public Radio’s Science Friday into curriculum for middle school teachers. Science Friday host Ira Flatow covers a broad range of environmental topics and discusses the latest research with scientists, policymakers, authors, and advocates.
The URL is: http://www.kidsnet.org/sfkc/

Clean Sweep USA Expands Resources for Grades 4-8    
Keep America Beautiful, Inc., received a $75,000 grant from the Office Depot Foundation to redesign and enhance its Clean Sweep U.S.A. EE Web site. This educational math and science classroom resource for students (grades 4-8) now includes lessons on litter prevention and beautification and features interactive learning modules that help students, teachers, and families address real-world issues about waste.
The URL is: http://www.cleansweepusa.org

Operation: Monster Storms    
From The JASON Project, this free and online curriculum is designed to teach students (grades 5-8) how powerful storms form and how advanced technology is used to better understand and forecast weather. The five- to nine-week core science unit covers key middle school National Science Education Standards, and can be aligned to state standards.
The URL is: http://www.jason.org/public/Curriculum/Curriculum....

PBS Environmental Series for Grades 6-12    
The Journey to Planet Earth video series has been re-edited for grades 6-12 to help teachers explain to students the science behind some of the alarming world headlines. Receive a 30-day free preview of the entire 10-episode series or individual episodes, by emailing screenscope@screenscope.com -- with your name, institutional mailing address, and phone number.
The URL is: http://www.pbs.org/journeytoplanetearth

If Trees Could Talk - Grades 6-8      
This 8-module, middle school environmental history curriculum allows teachers to download in pdf format, self-contained activities based upon archival materials. Each module is a compilation of primary resources--documents, maps, newspapers, oral histories or photographs--that students will be asked to examine and analyze in order to synthesize insights about human interaction with the environment
The URL is: http://www.foresthistory.org/Education/Curriculum/

Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation Call2Recycle Lesson Plan    
Interactive lesson plan teaches students about the importance of rechargeable battery and cell phone recycling. Suitable for grades 5-12.
The URL is: http://www.rbrc.org/call2recycle/teaching/index.ht...

The Scoop on Soil    
Claude's Got the Scoop on Soil! Web site provides educational materials targeted for students in grades 4-6 to learn about how soil is made, who really needs soil, and what happens to soil if you don't take care of it.
The URL is: http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/soil/index.html

Earth Explore Adventures    
Environmental field science experiences for teachers and students in grades 5-8. Inquiry based experiential learning format. Academic credit opportunities.
The URL is: http://www.earthexplore.com

Fisheries Learning on the Web (FLOW)    
Award-winning, Web-based curriculum material for grades 4-8. Each standards-based lesson features an engaging activity focusing on one of three primary areas: ecosystem, water or fish.
The URL is: http://www.projectflow.us

Marine Fisheries Series Activities Guide    
Habitat Media offers this free online activity guide to help dive deeper into the topics covered in the Marine Fisheries documentary series. The guide includes six engaging, peer-reviewed activities, correlated to national science and social studies education standards - designed for middle and high schools as well as non-traditional educational venues.
The URL is: http://www.pbs.org/emptyoceans/educators/index.htm...

New Lesson Book on Global Sustainability    
"Engaging Students through Global Issues: Activity-Based Lessons and Action Projects" Facing the Future's new activity-based lesson book for middle and high school teachers includes standards-aligned, inspiring, step-by-step lesson plans designed to help students understand complex global issues and sustainable solutions.
The URL is: http://www.facingthefuture.org/#

eField Trips    
Check out the Spring 2006 eField Trip "Butterflies: Unlocking the Mystery of Metamorphisis" presented in an engaging format and designed to meet national education standards. Classrooms register for free. Also available now and through the rest of the year: Renewable Energy: POWERful Choices.
The URL is: http://www.efieldtrips.org

Actionbioscience Grades 6-12 - Undergrad Lessons Directory    
Articles and lessons (MS-undergrad) focus on issues in biodiversity, environment, genome, biotechnology, evolution, new frontiers in the sciences, and education. Lessons are written by educators and correlated to NSES standards.
The URL is: http://www.actionbioscience.org/lessondirectory.ht...

America's Rain Forests: A Distance Learning Adventure    
Take your students in grades 5-8 on a distance learning adventure to the tropical and temperate rain forests during live webcast and broadcast on October 14. Join experts on location in Puerto Rico and Alaska to learn about these important ecosystems, predator-prey relationships, the endangered Puerto Rican parrot, why rain forests are important, and the native cultures of Puerto Rico and Alaska. Visit the website for more information, to register, and for free lesson plans.
The URL is: http://rainforests.pwnet.org

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS): An Educator's Information and Materials Guide - Grades    
For K-12 teachers and nonformal educators, the AIS Guide is available online or in pdf format. Includes aquatic exotic plants and animals educational materials, multimedia resources and information, and species field guide. From the University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program.
The URL is: http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/exotics/

North Carolina Museum of Art online educational resource, featuring nature and science activities that can be used in environmental education. Includes K-12 lesson plans and activities searchable by region, subject, and grade.
The URL is: http://www.ncmoa.org/artnc/

AskAsia Teaching Materials    
K-12 teacher's resource site from Asia Society provides background essays, lesson plans, learning activities, maps, annotated links, and more. Lesson plans cover the events leading up to and the hours following the earthquake off the shores of Sumatra and the use of history to learn ways to avert a similar crisis in the future.
The URL is: http://www.askasia.org/teachers/lessons/

Awesome Library      
"The Awesome Library organizes the Web with 15,000 carefully reviewed resources, including the top 5 percent in education." Special sections for students, teachers and parents. Lesson plans for grades K-12.
The URL is: http://www.awesomelibrary.org/Classroom/Science/Ec...

Biological Soil Crusts Guide - Grades 6-12    
US Geological Survey online guide to biological soil crusts in this easy-to-navigate Web site.

Crust 101 contains a detailed introduction to soil crust ecology, and the Advanced feature offers an extensive technical reference.
The URL is: http://www.soilcrust.org/

Bridge: Ocean Sciences Education K-12 Resource Center    
A collection of K-12 resources for marine science education on-line (resources are screened by science educators, and content is approved by research scientists as necessary). Resources are organized into topic areas, resource providers, professional development and discussion groups. A project of the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE).
The URL is: http://www.vims.edu/bridge/

CIESE Online Classroom Projects    
Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) interdisciplinary projects that teachers can use to enhance their curriculum through use of the Internet. Focus is on projects that utilize realtime data from the Internet, and collaborative projects that reach peers and experts around the world via the Internet. Some of these collaborative projects include "Down the Drain: How much water do you use?"; "The Global Water Sampling Project: An investigation of water quality" for grades 9-12; and "The Square of Life: Studies of Local and Global Environments" for grades 1-5. Each project has a brief description and links to the National Science Standards and NCTM math standards it supports.
The URL is: http://www.k12science.org/currichome.html

CleanSweep USA    
Six lessons for grades 4-8 on waste in the environment. Lessons focus on source reduction, recycling, composting, landfills, and waste to energy.
The URL is: http://www.kab.org/kids/educators.htm

Cycles of the Earth and Atmosphere Teaching Module - Grades 5-8    
Online teaching module for middle school science teachers providing background information and supporting classroom teaching materials. Content focus is climate change and issues related to both stratospheric and tropospheric ozone.
The URL is: http://www.ucar.edu/learn/

Discovery Channel School - K-12 Lesson Plan Library    
Provides a database of resources searchable by grade, subject, and resource type (lesson plans can be printed off the web). Some EE related areas include Animals, Oceans, Earth and Life Science. Activities are correlated to National Learning Standards.
The URL is: http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/

DiscoverySchool.com K-12 Curriculum Center    
Site provides a library of K-12 curriculum resources for teachers; study tools, games, and learning adventures for students; education advice, reviews, and study tools for parents.
The URL is: http://school.discovery.com/curriculumcenter/

Site offers a variety of flash learning programs and lesson plans designed to meet state and national learning standards.
The URL is: http://edheads.org/

Educating Young People about Water - PreK-12 Curricula      
Materials compiled and reviewed by the Environmental Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Extension, that will help you to develop a community-based, youth water education program that targets youth and links key community members in partnerships while working toward common water education goals.
The URL is: http://www.uwex.edu/erc/eypaw/listgrade.cfm

Educator's Reference Desk EE K-12 Lesson Plans    
The Educator's Reference Desk K-12 Environmental Education lesson plans and resources.
The URL is: http://www.eduref.org/cgi-bin/lessons.cgi/Science/...

Energy Sourcebooks - Lesson Plans Grades 1-12    
Lesson plans and activities for elementary, junior high, and high school students to explore alternative energy sources. Can be downloaded in one large file (Complete Text), individual chapters, or on three compact discs.
The URL is: http://www.tvakids.com/teachers/sourcebooks.htm

EPA's - Air Pollution: What's the Solution?      
Explore ground-level ozone through an online teaching unit designed for grades 6-9, correlated to National Science Eduation Standards and Excellence in Environmental Eduation: Guidelines for Learning. Students will discover the science underlying ozone formation while using real world data, EPA's Air Quality Index, the scientific method, graphing, math and data interpretation skills.
The URL is: http://www.epa.gov/airnow/resource.html

EPA Water K-12 Sourcebooks    
Created by the EPA, The Water Sourcebooks contain 324 activities for grades K-12. This environmental education program explains the water management cycle using a balanced approach showing how it affects all aspects of the environment. Activities are available online in PDF and are also available on CD-ROM.
The URL is: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/kids/wsb/

Classroom Helper-Light & Crystals    
Hands-on science lesson that captures a youngsters’ attention when they used crystals that disappear when placed in water and reappear when removed from the water. These crystals (actually a hydro-gel) are used to teach the concept of refraction of light and the basic chemistry of crystal growth.
The URL is: http://www.scienceinabag.com/lesson.html

Learning Science Interactives    
learningscience.org site offers free, high-quality Web interactives for the classroom in various areas of science studies listed by learning standards for grades K-4 and 5-12. Links to long and short interactive lesson plans, data collection, imaging, and more.
The URL is: http://www.learningscience.org/

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