How do you get your homeschoolers interested in environmental topics? Hands-on activities and tours always help, as well as interesting computer games and videos. There are a lot of options available, especially since Washington State is so ecologically minded. Here are some ideas and web sites! Be sure to visit Cynthia’s website for more information (http://www.cslevesque.com/)
- Washington Green Schools provides an avenue for greener, healthier school environments with lesson plans, workshops, and hands-on support. http://www.wagreenschools.org/what-we-do/
- EPA web site has lesson plans, games, and videos about the environment – http://www2.epa.gov/students
- State of WA Dept. of Ecology web site has all kinds of resources for students covering climate change, air, recycling and water. http://www.ecy.wa.gov/services/ee/kids.html
- Visit a Material Recovery Facility or watch a virtual video about how a MRF works. For example, Waste Management’s Cascade Recycling Center in Woodinville, WA, provides tours on a limited basis, and has videos on their web site as well as environmental curriculum, K-12 which includes tips on how to encourage green practices at school. http://www.wm.com/enterprise/k-12-education/index.jsp and http://www.wmnorthwest.com/cascaderecycling/index.html http://wmnorthwest.com/educational/kidsclub.htm
- Have someone from your city or county Solid Waste Department come talk to your group or find out what educational material they can provide.
- Start a compost pile. http://homecompostingmadeeasy.com/foodscraps.html
- Collect plastics in your neighborhood and learn the different number classifications (1 through 7). http://learn.eartheasy.com/2012/05/plastics-by-the-numbers/ Learn which ones your local recycler accepts. Learn other things kids can do with plastics. https://www.recycleyourplastics.org/consumers/kids-recycling/kids-can/
- Start a collection of other recyclable items such as cans, bottles, paper and cardboard and showcase them in a display.
- Study the endangered and threatened species in your local area such as the gray wolf, pygmy rabbit, woodland caribou, and marsh sandwort. Each student can take a species and report on it. See WA State Dept. of Transportation http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Environment/Biology/bio_usfw.htm and WA. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/ Start an album of pictures, data and location of critical habitat.
- Review the most highly endangered species in the world. There are several “top ten” lists but here is one which has pictures and video of each: http://www.allaboutwildlife.com/ten-most-endangered-animals Create a picture album with maps. Assign an animal to each student to study. Or adopt one animal as a class and study how its habitat is being destroyed or how it’s being hunted illegally. See National Wildlife Federation or many other wildlife Conservation organizations.
- Study the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and what it does to protect animals and plants. http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Conservation/Endangered-Species-Act.aspx Study the success stories and species that have become extinct. Report on what is going on in Congress.
- Study how the ESA has affected your state such as northern spotted owl controversy. Has the northern spotted owl come back? Learn about how the more aggressive barred owls are ousting the spotted owls. http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/spotted-owls and http://www.owlpages.com/news.php?article=594
- Connect Kids with Nature – get ideas and lessons plans from National Wildlife Federation http://www.nwf.org/What-We-Do/Kids-and-Nature.aspx
- Learn about biodiversity and why it’s important. http://www.endangeredspeciesinternational.org/overview4.html
- Study the medical importance of animals, such as reptiles, and how they are used in medical research and drugs. https://savethereptiles.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/the-medical-importance-of-reptiles/
- Study the WA Dept. of Ecology air monitoring station data or have someone come to talk about air quality and/or air monitoring. What pollutants are monitored and what are the regulated levels? What are the categories of air pollution? http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/Air_Monitoring_Data/WAQA_Intro_Page.html
- Visit the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency web site for information on air quality and Clean Air choices http://www.pscleanair.org/Pages/default.aspx
- Contact Seattle City Light or your local utility for resources to educate children about climate change and energy conservation. http://www.seattle.gov/light/shrinkbigfoot/teacher.asp For example, download the Shrinking Bigfoot Discussion and activity guide for teachers about energy conservation and climate change.
- Study the global warming issue and find out what you can do to conserve energy. For example, get on Seattle City Light’s or WA Dept. of Ecology’s global warming web sites. Learn ways to conserve energy at home. http://www.seattle.gov/light/conserve/globalwarming/ http://www.ecy.wa.gov/climatechange/index.htm
- Study the various alternative energies such as solar, wind, and hydro and which ones are used for energy in your local area. Prepare a picture album and report on how each operates.
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