Kids love exploring the world around them, and Earth Day offers a great way to introduce them to environmental science and engineering. The following sampler includes activities, lessons, and resources ranging from starting a school-wide energy audit to “green” buildings, the science behind solar ovens, and sustainable design.
New! NASA’s Adopt the Planet invites people around the world to celebrate Earth Day 2017 by virtually adopting one of 64,000 pieces of Earth as seen from space. A personalized adoption certificate featuring data from NASA’s Earth-observing satellites for a randomly assigned location can be printed out and shared.
Earth Day Network has information on its campaigns, such as greener schools, and a Climate Week Toolkit for Teachers [PDF] that includes tips for family activities, civic action, and science classes. Click HERE to see toolkits for teach-ins, universities, and others.
Click HERE for information on the March for Science.
EPA’s Earth Day site offers lessons for teachers, community service ideas, and a history of Earth Day.
Engineering, Go For It Past Lessons:
- Landfills and contamination
- Build a Solar Still
- Map the Green Space
- Oil Spill Solutions
- Design a Rooftop Garden (grades 6-9)
- Green Roof Design (grades 9-12)
- Living Together to Work Together
- Pollution in Our Watershed (grades 2-8)
- Harvest Water from Fog (grades 4-12)
- Dirty Water Project (grades 3-5)
- Groundwater Pollution Detectives (grades 7-9)
- The Energy of Decay (K-5)
- Trash Talkin’ (grades 3-5)
- What a Dump! (grades 3-5)
- Life After Trash (grades 6-8)
- Trash Sliders (grades 6-8)
- Harnessing Wind (grades 3-5)
- Wind Power for Your Home (grades 9-11)
- Zero-Energy Home Design (grades 9-11)
Activities and Projects:
- Green Education Foundation’s Sustainability lessons and activities and Top 10 Earth Day Projects. Design a walkable route to school, adopt a plant, and other “green team” activities!
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Earth Day site offers lessons for teachers, community service ideas, and a history of Earth Day. EPA’s Indoor Air Quality initiative offers resources and lessons on air quality and information for teachers about promoting healthy school environments.
- NASA’s Climate Kids has interactive games, videos, and other fun resources about weather and climate change for elementary school-age children.
- HowToSmile.org’s environmental science activities for various age groups.
- The Cool School Challenge, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund and developed by a high school environmental educator, engages students and teachers in practical strategies to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions school-wide. Schools that complete the Challenge automatically qualify for a bronze level award through the Eco-Schools USA program!
- Earth: The Operator’s Manual, developed from research sponsored by the National Science Foundation, includes climate-change lessons, activities, videos of “Energy Heroes,” and a step-by-step guide to cutting home or school energy use, including an energy-use calculator.
- Project Noah is a site for citizen-scientists (and curious kids) around the world to explore and document wildlife by uploading photos of beautiful, strange, or unknown creatures and finding out what they are.
Earth Day-themed newsletters, articles, and videos from our eGfi blogs:
- Moving (Trash) Mountains (April 2016)
- Make a Splash (April 2015)
- Catch Wind of Earth Day! (April 2014)
- Earth Day (April 18, 2013)
- Handle with Care (April 17, 2012)
- ‘Acts of Green’ Span the Globe (April 12, 2011)
- Earth Day at 40 (April 3, 2010)
Features from our eGfi Students blog:
- Pioneer of Green Learning (high school sustainability teacher Mike Town)
- Houses Could be Powered by Artificial Leaves (green design)
- Energy-generating Waterfall Proposed for 2016 Olympics (waterfall in Rio)
- Sustainability Workshop from Autodesk (video series)
- World’s Greenest Office Building? (sustainable design)
- Green Roofs (sustainable design)
- Sustainable Slopes (indoor snow park in Sweden)
- Power Walk Floor Tiles (pedestrian-generated electricity)
- Student Inventor Manu Sharma (engineering student designs wind turbines)
- Novel Wind Turbines (nature-inspired shapes)
- Student Inventors Flush with Savings (Cooper Union students invent cheap dual-flush converter to save water)
- Bill Gates Wants to Reinvent the Toilet (Gates Foundation’s toilet challenge)
- Turning Air Into Water (Australian grad student devises method to wring water from desert air)
- Students Converge to Solve Water Woes (Pittsburgh high school students attend video conference with global peers)
- Students Create Water Disinfecting Tool (University of Washington engineering students win prize for water-purification system)
- Hidden Wealth in Food Waste? (urban composting)
- Low-Cost Housing from Loofah and Plastic Waste (video of Elsa Zaldivar’s project)
Tags: Class Activities, Curriculum, Earth Day, Energy, Environmental Engineering, Environmental science, Green design, green roof, groundwater, Internet Resources, inventor, Lesson Plan, Lesson Plans, Pollution, Resources for Teachers, Sustainability, Teacher Resources, Trash, Videos, waste, Web Resources, Wind Energy