The new normal. This is a phrase we’ve all adopted over the past year when our way of life changed dramatically and seemingly overnight. But what is the new normal, really?
Have you noticed a change in your habits, not only in the way you treat others, but also in the way you view the environment? Have you been spending more time outdoors as part of your social distancing efforts?
If so, you already have a head start on the focus for Earth Day 2021, coming up on April 22. This year’s theme, Together, we can Restore Our Earth™, is about not returning to business as usual or life as we once knew it. It’s about making the future better by raising awareness and setting a positive example to secure the health of our planet for generations to come. And, there are lots of ways to get your students involved, so let’s get started with some helpful lessons and activities …
AFNR – Problem Solving with Garbage – Grades 6-8
In this lesson, which also includes SEL-focused discussion questions, you’ll help students identify the advantages and disadvantages of alternative energy sources. To complete the project students will collect recyclable materials from home and put their collaboration and problem-solving skills to work in constructing a garbage car to hold an egg.
AFNR – How Can Vertical Farming Help Feed the World – Grades 6-12
Another great lesson with an SEL focus, the How Can Vertical Farming Help Feed the World lesson will help students assess and summarize current work in the biotechnology field that adds value to agriculture and society as a whole.
Art – An Earth-Friendly Breakfast – Grades 4-6
Though this lesson might sound like it has more of a nutritional approach, it’s also a great way to help students identify and create “Pop Art.” Using recycled materials, students will mold and shape Crayola® Model Magic® to form three-dimensional cereal and organic fruit pieces while applying a variety of painting techniques to create representational food items.
Art – Wax on Recycled Caps – Grades 3-6
This is a great lesson to help build Earth Day awareness as a school-wide activity. First, have students plan a plastic bottle cap collection at school. Once caps are collected students will create earth-friendly pieces of art to display at school or home to represent what they’ve learned about the importance of buying reusable beverage containers. In addition, students will apply science principles by identifying the recycling symbols and learning what those symbols mean. Math principles are also applied by helping students figure the volume of plastic waste that ends up in landfills. Plus, students will also be introduced to a master artist study of an Abstract Expressionist—all while creating a pretty cool piece of earth-friendly art.
STEM-STEAM – Let’s Shake It Up: An Earthquake – Grades 6-8
Another great way to incorporate Earth Day awareness is by helping students understand the full scope of natural disasters, like earthquakes. The Let’s Shake It Up: An Earthquake lesson applies principles in science, technology, engineering, art and math. As students analyze data by splitting into small groups they’ll gain knowledge of the elements of an earthquake like body waves, surface waves, magnitude and intensity. Next, using a shake table, students will begin to predict how well structures are able to withstand earthquakes and how structural design and engineering plays an important role in sustaining these structures.
Science – Solar Cooking: Using Basics of Solar Energy to Prepare a Delicious Treat – Grades K-4
For younger students, the Solar Cooking lesson plan is the perfect way to introduce students to optical and thermal energies and how energy can be converted from one form to another. Using the Solar Balloon Energy Kit to build a solar cooker, students will learn how clean energy conversion can benefit people and the environment while applying critical thinking and collaboration skills. Plus, who doesn’t love a good S’mores as an added bonus?
Science – Energy Conversions – Grades 9-12
This lesson will help students understand how energy is converted from one form to another by designing, building and refining a device, like a solar oven, that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy to another.
For more activity and lesson ideas for Earth Day (and much more), visit our Free Activities page on NascoEducation.com . And, if you do plan to engage in one of the activities shown above, please feel free to share it and tag us on Facebook or Instagram!
Did you know?
Did you know Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson? Nelson was looking for a way to promote the environmental movement and his plan was simple—he wanted to include classes and projects to help educate the public on environmental protection. With a massive outpouring of public support, the first Earth Day, held on April 22, 1970, galvanized Congress to create some of the most important U.S. environmental legislation, and Nelson earned environmentalism a lasting place in national politics while sparking a movement that has lasted more than 50 years.