Curriculum in U.S. schools is often a contentious topic, with various interest groups battling over what material is “right” or “useful” for the nation’s children, and concepts like conservation often get lost in the shuffle.
Conservation knowledge is good to have and wise to impart no matter what the political climate or attitude toward threats to the environment. Environmental stewardship is an enriching and beneficial pursuit, and arguments against this lack substance.
Time and the tools to teach, however, are also resources that are in short supply. Fortunately, there are organizations that provide resources to educators who are willing to go the extra mile to provide their students with a lesson in conservation.
Below we look at five websites that provide tools for water conservation education.
National Geographic has long been a leader in providing well-researched information about the world in which we live. The Geography Action! section of the website is dedicated to helping students learn about the importance of conservation around the world.
Geography Action! provides lesson plans that teachers can use directly from the website or as models for personalized instruction that are organized according to subject area (Biodiversity, Fresh Water, Population, etc.) as well as grade level. The result is a detailed look at some of the world’s most important natural resources, how they are impacted and how they can be protected.
2. Energy Quest
Energy Quest is an effort by the California Energy Commission to provide resources to teachers and students all about energy: its different forms, how it is generated, its sources and how to protect and conserve it.
The website is arranged in easy-to-use tabs that lead to a rich, comprehensive supply of teaching material. “The Energy Story” is arranged in 20 Chapters that reviews concepts as focused as Static Electricity & Resistance and Biomass Energy, while the “Teacher Resources” section provides a linked list of additional resources from DVDs to energy department directories.
SnagFilms is a great resource for free independent films of all types, including well-executed documentaries and educational films about conservation. The website encourages the sharing of these films as a way to communicate ideas, debate and generate informed discussion of important topics.
The Expeditions: Blue Planet series is a collection of several films that focus on different areas of the world and their varying issues with, and problem-solving approaches to, water conservation. The goal of these videos is to educate students on often infrequently discussed matters relating to the global water crisis and asks viewers to think critically and take action when possible.
Project WET’s Worldwide Water Education program is a global effort to educate children about the importance and of clean, sustainable water sources. Studies show that this kind of education can save lives in many areas of the world, and help other who may live in areas that are fortunate enough to have sustainable water resources to save lives through conservation.
The organization provides several resources that can be used to teach students about water like the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide, numerous workshops, as well as its support of the Discoverwater.org website – a kid-friendly tour of the wonders of water in the world.
Circle of Blue does not provide specific tools for teaching per se as much as it is an information-rich resource for issues related to water conservation. The website breaks data up according to geographic location as well as by research area, making it very easy to navigate.
A teacher visiting Circle of Blue may do so with an area of the world and/or a particular problem in mind to discuss in class, and then find information that will help the in-class discussion. The website also provides numerous helpful videos, infographics and motion graphics to help teach students about global water issues.
These websites are very helpful and provide many tools to help start the conservation conversation, but there is no approved blueprint for talking about environmental stewardship. The organizations listed provide a great deal of valuable information, but it is still up to us to use it to make a difference.
James Madeiros writes for Teacher Certification Degrees, a teaching career site providing in-depth information including how to earn an elementary education degree, state teacher requirements, and advice from current teachers.