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Earth Day Resources

Earth in Our HandsKids 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 that promote green engineering and science learning.

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Brazil’s Olympic Designs

imaginary stadium with light beamsAs host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil has had to tap engineering expertise for everything from stadium construction to pollution control to security systems in order to receive an estimated 15,000 athletes and half a million foreign visitors. Despite the country’s economic woes, zika virus concerns, and construction delays, the games will go on… though probably not without some hitches.

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Groundwater Pollution Detectives

Water pumpTeams of students in grades 5 to 7 locate a contaminant spill in a hypothetical site by measuring the pH of soil samples. They then predict the direction of groundwater flow using mathematical modeling and use the engineering design process to come up with alternative treatments for the contaminated water.

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What a Dump!

landfillIn this activity, teams of students in grades 5 to 7 learn about environmental, civil, and sanitation engineering by designing and building model landfills that hold the most garbage, minimize costs, and prevent trash and contaminated “rainwater” from polluting the nearby “city.” Teams test their landfills, and graph and compare designs for capacity, cost, and performance.

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Feature: Earth Day 2012

earth dayFor more than four decades, people around the world have celebrated Earth Day on April 22. This year’s organizers hope to mobilize 1 billion individuals to raise awareness about environmental issues and sustainability. Already, some 815 million have pledged to reuse water bottles, organize events, and perform other “Acts of Green.”

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Lesson: Pollution and Lung Health

Stopping PollutionIn this lesson from the California Academy of Sciences, students study the effects of pollution upon human health and consider how we can protect ourselves from the effects of carginogens. They build a lung model to learn how their lungs and diaphragm work to make them breathe. The lesson features a demonstration on how incomplete combustion of fossil fuels releases particles into the air that can harm humans.

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