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Bill Nye's Climate Lab

Elementary, Middle

Description

This on-line, interactive resource provides opportunities for students to address climate change issues and create clean energy solutions within their communities. With Bill Nye providing age-appropriate background information through short video clips, students are able to learn about current climate change issues while at the same time collecting game points in 12 activities or missions.  

With the recurring theme that small choices can add up to stop climate change, topics include energy conservation, renewable energy sources, water conservation, clean transportation, environmentally friendly materials, the three RS, and advocacy for personal change.

Students will conduct home audits for water and electricity usage, create a transit profile and make personal pledges for change.  Other  activities include a video game involving energy vampires, designing an efficient vehicle, planning a clean efficient  home, planting a virtual garden, sending climate cards to friends and family, and promoting community outreach projects.

Each mission can be completed as a stand-alone lesson or all the activities can provide a comprehensive unit on climate change.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • Interactive lessons are fun, relevant, and interesting
  • The resource is written in student-friendly language
  • Up-to-date
  • Links are relevant to the topic, and helpful for both teachers and students
  • There are opportunities to delve deeper into chosen issues
  • Resource comes with printable worksheets
  • Bill Nye video clips are informative, engaging and age-appropriate
  • Promotes community awareness

Weaknesses

  • Action project is not developed
  • Not enough time for small group or large group discussions
  • Aboriginal perspectives are not addressed
  • Assessment tools need to be developed by the teacher

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource can be used  to address outcomes relating to climate change in a weather unit . It would also enrich the study of electricity with its focus on energy consumption and alternative energy sources. Any social studies unit addressing consumption would also benefit from this resource.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (1)

    • Community-Building and Participation
  • Energy (2)

    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Use
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Transportation
  • Waste Management (2)

    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Source Reduction
  • Water (1)

    • Water Use

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Satisfactory

The resource aims to to increase knowledge, build positive attitudes and encourage students to be aware of the consequences of their lifestyle choices. This resource provides the points of view which would motivate students to personal action. However, specific government, industry and First Nations perspectives are not included.

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

The resource links effectively the environmental issue of climate change to choices made by individuals and society.  Teachers will need to draw attention to the economic causes and consequences of climate change.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

Respects Complexity Satisfactory

Although not examining all aspects of this complex environmental issue, it does promote action through the learning activities provided.

Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Satisfactory

Action is encouraged and suggested, but it is up to the teacher to fully develop action plans.

Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
Action Skills Satisfactory

Although skills are not explicitly taught, after completing the activities and audits students may be motivated to act in some way.

Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good

Although there is no out-of-doors experience, students are encouraged to be stewards of the planet.

Personal Affinity with Earth: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused Very Good

Personal energy, water and transit audits encourage local focus and bring relevance to the lives of the learner. Community action is also encouraged.

Locally-Focused: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

Students evaluate their present consumption patterns and are asked for ideas that would encourage personal change. The future is seen as positive if students become more aware of how lifestyle choices affect climate change and the future of our planet.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory

Students are able to discover some answers on their own through the guided inquiry approach taken.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Satisfactory

This is primarily a science resource but there are learning opportunities for exploring outcomes in math, art and language arts.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Satisfactory
Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification Satisfactory

The resource should encourage students to discuss their audits with their classmates and provide time for the clarification of their own beliefs and values.

Values Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
Differentiated Instruction Good

The resource teaches to both the cognitive and affective domains. Activities are varied and user-friendly. Although no accomodations are suggested, the fact that the background information is provided using video clips eliminates problems associated with differing reading levels.

Differentiated Instruction: Activities address a range of learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

Although no "hands-on" learning opportunities are provided, the interactive nature of the resource provides some experiential "minds-on" learning experiences.

Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students work as individuls to complete each mission, but some group work may develop when completing the advocacy for change and citizenship activities.

Cooperative Learning: Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
  • Satisfactory = students work in groups
  • Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

There are no assessment tools provided in the resource.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

Some peer teaching opportunities may occur during poster presentations, the sending of climate change cards and the sharing of personal audits.

Peer Teaching: Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
  • Satisfactory = incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good = an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory

Bill Nye provides brief descriptions of real life situations in a general way before each activity. This information is not detailed, but does provide enough information for students to find  relevance in the mission they are asked to complete.

Case Studies: Relevant case studies are used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine concepts in an authentic context.
Locus of Control Satisfactory

There are opportunities for students to delve deeper into chosen issues through the many links provided.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.