Learning to Protect the Environment Is the First Step to Climate Literacy According to Newest Issue of Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle

Teachers of young children have the difficult task of taking the first steps to prepare children for a climate-literate adulthood while not overwhelming them with complex science concepts and a sense of helplessness. The latest issue of the professional online magazine for K-5 teachers Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle advocates providing an engaging look at our environment along with everyday steps all of us can take to protect the world we live in.

Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle bases its bimonthly themes on the seven Essential Principles of the Climate Sciences, developed by science, government, and nongovernment agencies for learners of all ages.

The theme of the sixth issue is the essential principle “We Change Earth’s Climate.” Two professional development articles, Humans: A Force of Nature and Essential Principle 6: Correlation to Standards and Curriculum Connections, give teachers a wide-ranging discussion of the generally accepted causes of climate change globally and show how the concepts align with K-5 national science education standards. In addition, the articles identify appropriate classroom resources and assessment strategies.

The magazine emphasizes integrating science and literacy teaching with an article on the reading strategy Making Connections and other features. The original story, Life in the Greenhouse, is presented at two reading levels and in a variety of formats, including electronic book, for differentiated instruction. The virtual bookshelf describes children’s trade books for further reading about the environment.

Teachers will also find suggestions for using lessons and activities from selected web sites in unit plans for K-2 and 3-5 grades. A feature called Take Action! offers specific conservation steps young people can take in the classroom and the home.

Harnessing social media for instruction is the subject of an article about collaboration with the school librarian. Another article highlights interactive resources for the elementary classroom.

Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). It is modeled on an award-winning NSF-funded project Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears: Integrating Literacy and Science in K-5 Classrooms.

The project is produced at the School of Teaching and Learning, College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University (OSU). Kimberly Lightle, director of digital libraries in the college, is the principal investigator for the project and a feature writer for the online magazine. Jessica Fries-Gaither, an educational resource specialist at OSU, is the project director. For more information about the project, email fries-gaither.1@osu.edu.

Citizen Science Projects

I came across this post – 12 Days of Christmasy Citizen Science Projects – and thought I would share some of my favorite Citizen Science Projects. One thing to remember – just because the word “science” is in the title doesn’t mean that these projects won’t fit into the middle school math curriculum. Many of these projects provide data sets that can be analyzed in a variety of ways!

If you would like to suggest other projects, please add them to the comments section.

Measure rain, snow, and hail:
CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow)

Track when leaves grow and flowers bloom in the spring:
National Phenology Network

Project Budburst

Observe migrating patterns:
National Audubon Society

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Monarch Butterfly Studies

National Phenology Network

Monitor invasive species:

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Project Earth – Making the World a Smaller Place

Project Earth is a global networking website for K–12 educators and the public designed to connect people around the world to help solve environmental problems. Its mission is to generate ongoing conversation and collaboration across national boundaries that collectively lead to positive environmental change. Registration is required and member teachers/schools/classrooms are able to showcase their innovative environmental projects, connect and interact with ecologically-minded people around the world (from Minnesota, to Los Lagos, Chile, to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia!).  Teachers and students also have the opportunity to participate in environmental contests and earn recognition for efforts.

Last year, Project Earth’s World Environment Day Contest drew winners involved with environmentally conscious projects such as studying how plastic bags affect our environment, and growing food for a school kitchen and composting the waste. Submissions to the 2011 contest are due May 15th. A great project idea for your classroom!

A few  other resources to tap into on this topic include the MSP2 resource guides on Technology and the Environment, Populations and Ecosystems, and Oceans, Climates and Weather.

Antarctic Pale Ale: Another Use for Icebergs?

A brewery in Australia twice broke the Guinness record for the most expensive beer produced in modern times. The brewery’s secret: Nail Brewing used melted ice from an Antarctic iceberg. According to an article from oneindia News, brewer John Stallwood was looking for new ideas to bring attention to his small operation. His brother-in-law, who works on a ship that sails around Antarctica, took a helicopter crew to an iceberg, dug out some ice, and flew to Tasmania where the ice was melted. Stallwood sold the limited edition Antarctic Pale Ale at an auction to benefit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The ale went for up to $1,850 per bottle. Some 30 bottles of the craft beer were produced.

The oneindia News article drew the attention of Laurel Bacque, who does communications and outreach for the IceCube neutrino observatory project at the South Pole. In her blog she describes the conservation society for her readers, saying its actions have been controversial. The society attempts to stop fishing ships that are hunting whales, sharks, and dolphins.

Icebergs were the theme of a recent issue of Beyond Penguins and Polars. Our columnists see them as a source of freshwater in the ocean, which can raise global sea levels, affect sea circulation patterns, and impact marine ecosystems. You’ll find many resources and amazing photographs for introducing K-5 students to icebergs in this issue – and lots for teachers of all grade levels.

Print Issues of Beyond Penguins Are Half Price on Black Friday

Readers of the online issues of Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears can now access the content in different formats. For example, you can have highlights of issues mailed to you as a full-color, print magazine, or you can download the highlights version on your iPad. The print and electronic versions are generously illustrated with photographs and contain many of the articles from the original online production. We are using MagCloud — a print-on-demand service from Hewlett-Packard that in addition to the print-on-demand service has an iPad application that allows you to download issues from MagCloud onto an iPad for free.

For the print version, you pay printing (20 cents/page) and mailing costs – issues are from $4.80 to $7.20 to print and ship depending on the page count. However, on Black Friday you can save 50% during MagCloud’s Red Friday Mega Sale! From midnight until 12 pm (PST) on Friday November 26th MagCloud will be slashing the production costs on all full-priced magazines by 50%. And don’t worry if the turkey-hangover causes you to miss the mega sale, you can still take advantage of MagCloud’s 25% Off Holiday Sale from 12 pm November 26th through December 31st. You can browse all the Beyond Penguins Highlights on MagCloud at http://bit.ly/aQUTn9.