Major US and North American Federal Organizations: Environment
The US Geological Survey has provided special packages for schools for many years. This site includes a link to the Department of Interior in addition to scientific information via publications, fact sheets and updated research bulletins. Two topics of interest to library readers include studies of the water table and sedimentary qualities in different regions. The USGS is one of the few groups that offer topological maps. Coupled with modern software in graphics (see the Art Studio), students could learn to generate such maps. A new project, called Learning Web, has been designed especially for earth science education.
Each region in the US also hosts school resources from the Environmental Protection Agency. You will find comparative data about acid rain. Adding /recyclecity to the EPA URL turns up an amazingly challenging site for younger students. A map of a city appears and students solve re-cycle games or make up their own puzzles. Adding /kids brings up the Explorer's Club for ages 5-12. Adding /indicators reveals all the indices and measures used to monitor our environment. A must-see.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Sierra Club also highlight regional contrasts. The Nature Conservancy (tnc)hosts excellent information on rainforests and has added a newsroom.
The National Technical Information Service at fedworld displays a large catalog about environmental resources (need Adobe Acrobat to view).
The Sierra Club, devoted to the preservation of the environment primarily in California, also sponsors real world excursions. They are safe, challenging and thrilling.
The Natural Resource Projects Inventory (NRPI) covers a wide range of issues, conservation and resource management organizations, project types, and funding sources. It has particularly rich information on water quality and watershed protection, fisheries habitat and exotic species removal. Users are able to identify projects on multiple levels; statewide educational and outreach efforts, regional planning, conservation and watershed assessments down to small local restoration efforts.
The Bureau of Land Management has designed a wonderfully interdisciplinary and imaginative site. In-depth study of a pre-historic mesa in Alaska interweaves environmental archaeology and physics. For instance, the trajectory of a spear, left by early man, is explained. Clicking on The Dating Game will introduce students to archaeological methods of dating sites. The seasonal transitions are described in-depth.Exploration of this site is presented with all of the mystery its content deserves. Another link not only leads to the history of the railroad and its impact on the environment but also instructions for building a steam engine and exploring the Doppler effect.The topics are changed from time to time. A section is devoted to the ethics of land management; it is practical and visionary without being preachy.Expert practioners in each state can be contacted. The BLM, in concert with other agencies, will undertake an intensive study of particular problems, such as restoration of riparian areas and the ecology of the Columbia River basin region. In addition to satellite broadcasts, questions can be called or faxed in. Adding /paleo to its site shows "Set in Stone", a study of paleontology with a special feature on dinosaurs like "Making a Good Impression" through "Body-building".The Bureau of Land Management works closely with the National Science Teachers' Association in developing its curriculum.
EcoNet, in keeping with the mission of promoting international understanding of IGC, charts progress on environmental controversies around the world. The format is easy to navigate.EarthShots at USGS provides outstanding images of sites around the world which have undergone significant environmental changes due to natural and human causes. A good site for students to illustrate contrasts in a research report. And, of course, sometimes a photo is worth a thousand words--especially in a geographical region removed from the student's locale.
The amazing resources of the JASON group have been extended to land geography and life, currently in Yellowstone.
ScoreCard, originally sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund, allows students to enter their own zip code to discover a list of hazardous chemicals with toxic ratings and health effects in their own region. Some parts of the US have received closer monitoring than others so the regions are smaller while in New York, any zip code will yield a list for the state mostly. Action tools are offered. And, yep, the names of real companies are given. A controversial site.
The USGS, an interesting contrast to NASA, views the environment from an on-the-ground perspective. Their schoolkits are well-done and age-appropriate.
For authentic multi-disciplinary projects enjoy the sites, prepared by the Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency..
Don't forget the wonders in the real world!
Other Areas To Check Out...
• An Evaluation Checklist for Educational Web Sites
• EdTech Leaders Online
• Evaluating the Quality of Information on the Internet
• Getting Started And Happy Endings
• High Performance Standards for Applied Learning
• National, State and Regional Networks (sample)
• Parent Involvement
• Research Resources for Teachers and Librarians