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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

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Interpreting trends and patterns
  • Decision making strategies
  • Identifying further problems or issues to be addressed
  • Analyzing one's ecological impacts
  • Gathering information in a variety of ways

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.

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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
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives 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.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:

Satisfactory- absence of bias towards any one point of view

Good- students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed

Very good- based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position

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:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  •  Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
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 the problems/issues being discussed is respected

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

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

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  •  Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education 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 Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

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:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  •  Satisfactory:   connection is made to the natural world
  • Good:  fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good:  fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning 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 Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  •  Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
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.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

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

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  •  Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  •  Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

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 student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  •  Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with 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:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  •  Satisfactory: learning is made concrete. Working with real objects,  using real sources of information
  • Good: learning takes place in a real-world context. Simulation, mentorship
  • Very good: learning provides experience beyond the classroom.  Addressing real world issues and problems 
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 included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  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.