Earth Science Week 2022: Teaching About Sustainability
This page was created for AGI's 2022 Earth Science Week: Earth Science for a Sustainable World, October 9-15, 2022.
Earth science and Earth scientists play an important role in creating and living in a sustainable and just world. Read more about what we mean by sustainability to help you integrate the featured resources below into your teaching.
NAGT sponsors projects that develop resources and activities for teaching. Some of these projects are focused specifically on sustainability.
InTeGrate: Interdisciplinary Teaching about Earth for a Sustainable Future
The InTeGrate project developed hundreds of activities and collected many more, all of which emphasize Earth-related societal issues. Although the activities were developed primarily for the undergraduate classroom, many are appropriate for high school and middle school classroom. You can:
CLEAN: The Climate and Energy Educational Resource Collection
The CLEAN Collection is a high-quality and rigorously reviewed collection of climate and energy educational resources aligned with the Climate Literacy and the Energy Literacy frameworks, and the Next Generation Science Standards . You can:
NAGT's Teach the Earth portal is a way to access activities submitted by individuals through workshops and on their own. These featured resources have been selected from the Teach the Earth collection for particular relevance to this year's theme.
Grades 6–8 resources
My Water Footprint
This lesson centers on an exploration of the water footprint associated with food. How much water is needed for food products, explore key aspects of water use related to food and agriculture, and how is their diet is influenced by social groups, advertising, and structures in place at home and at school.
In this activity, students are introduced to the social and scientific issues surrounding the removal of the Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River (on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State), and conduct a hands-on experiment with real-world application to observe the effects and consequences of removing the dam.
Rainwater harvesting service learning project
Students will gain an understanding of the history, benefits, and components of a rainwater harvesting system and partner with community members to design and build a rainwater harvesting system for their school.
Grades 9–12 resources
Carbon Footprint Exercise
A three-step assignment that asks students to calculate their carbon footprint during one specific week. The goal of the assignment is to increase student awareness of the various sources of energy consumption and of the impact that each one of them is having on the atmospheric carbon budget.
Students learn that when precipitation drops below normal, drought conditions can develop and economic, environmental, and social impacts can follow. The unit teaches students to interpret climate data to recognize the symptoms and evaluate the severity of drought. It helps them realize that drought can still devastate areas that have stable infrastructure and access to expensive technologies. The unit raises awareness of the need to be prepared to face drought conditions that may become more common as our planet warms.
Geoethics Forums: The Grey Side of Green
Students research the use of strategic minerals for green and clean technology, identify stakeholders, and then consider possible solutions and tradeoffs working towards the most acceptable path.
The Value of a Water Footprint
Students use what they learn about direct and indirect water use to create a strategic conservation action plan that incorporates their How to Save Water awareness campaign in an effort to decrease the school's overall virtual water use.
Tsunami vertical evacuation structures
Students learn about tsunami vertical evacuation structures (TVES) as a viable solution for communities with high ground too far away for rapid evacuation, then apply engineering design principles for TVES and make their own scale model that they think would fit well in their community.
Sustainability in the NGSS
In the Next Generation Science Standards, sustainability is prominent within Earth science.
High school ESS performance expectations: Human Sustainability
View these PEs onNSTA's interactive NGSS Hub
- Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity
- Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
- Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
- Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
- Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
Middle school ESS performance expectations: Human Impacts
View these PEs onNSTA's interactive NGSS Hub
- Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
- Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
- Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
Additional resources for K-12 teachers from NAGT
TheOutstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) awards are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or other K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of earth science content with their students is eligible. For more information about the award and to submit a nomination visit the OEST Awards page.
Dorothy Stout Professional Development Grants
Dottie Stout was the first female president of NAGT and was active as a strong supporter of earth science education at all levels. In honor of Dottie's outstanding work and lifelong dedication to Earth Science Education, NAGT awards grants to faculty and students at 2 year colleges and K-12 teachers in support of the following:
- Participation in Earth science classes or workshops
- Attendance at professional scientific or science education meetings
- Participation in Earth science field trips
- Purchase of Earth science materials for classroom use
Grants of $750 are made annually in three categories: Community College Faculty, Community College Student, and K-12 Educator. For more information about the award visit the Stout Grants page.