One of the other blocks we will be doing in eighth grade is a block on sustainability. The blocks on sustainability will also carry us into high school should our eighth grader choose to homeschool high schooler. I originally heard of this block as a suggestion from Christopherus Homeschool Resources, Inc and it may have been in one of the earlier editions of the book
These are my plans for a three week block on sustainability, using the following books and resources:
- Energy Island by Allan Drummond
- Generating Wind Power by Niki Walker
- Environmental Engineering and the Science of Sustainability
- Biomass: Fueling Change by Niki Walker
- Geothermal, Biomass, and Hydrogen: Future Energy by Jim Olhoff
- Ocean, Tidal, and Wave Energy: Power From the Sea by Lynn Peppas
- One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss/ ill. Rosemary Woods
- The Science of Climate Change: A Hands-On Course by Blair H. Lee
- Vanderbuilt University’s Resources for Teaching Sustainability
- Lesson plans from The Water Project (51 page download of lesson plans)
- How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint by Joanna Yarrow
- Sustainability: Building Eco-Friendly Communities by Anne Maczulak, PhD
- Native Defender of the Environment by Vincent Schilling
- Field trips
Sustainability can be a hard topic for a three to four week block of teaching because it covers so many things, and I also wanted to highlight we are looking so much at sustainability these days due to climate change (so we need to know the science of climate change to understand sustainability). So that is two major topics in one block for a middle schooler!
During this block we will be reading “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” as our read-aloud. This is how I set up this block, choosing essentially climate change, alternative energy, and water scarcity as the topics we will touch on (note we will do the LABS first if a lab is mentioned, and cover the concept part of the lab the next day after sleeping on it, so a little different than the way some resources are set up). I will figure out the artistic work and main lesson book work closer to when we start this block as this is a spring block and it still quite far off.
Question: What impact do we have upon the environment and the world?
Day One: What is Sustainable Development? (social/environmental/economic – where do these areas overlap? How?)/Biography of Ben Powless or Tom Goldtooth/How Sustainable Are We – What is a Carbon Footprint? Carbon Footprint Quiz (my plan is to do this block around Lent so we will talk about ways to reduce our carbon footprint as part of our Lenten practice)/Air and Greenhouse Effect sections from Blair Lee’s Book, labs
Day Two: Review/ Carbon Footprint results (and yes, at this point I will work in some of our religious beliefs because we put a very large emphasis on environmental justice in our church)/ Greenhouse Gases and Labs from Blair Lee’s book
Day Three: Review/Combustion Reactions and Concentrations of Carbon Dioxide, labs from Blair Lee’s book/
Day Four: Review/Feedback Mechanisms and labs from Blair Lee’s book/
Day One: Review/Weather versus Climate/Rising Sea Levels and Melting Ice Sheets from Blair Lee’s book/
Day Two: Review/Adaptation/How We Help
Day Three: Review/Read the book “Energy Island”/ Wind Power – its history and where we are now around the world with wind power (case example of Denmark)/Build a windmill generator/Biography of Winona LaDuke – Question to think upon: Could wind power become a major way we power the United States? Why or why not?
Day Four: Review/Finish Wind Power/ Concerns of Wind power -role of environmental engineer
Day One: Review/Solar Power/local solar power intiatives in our community/field trip
Day Two: Review/Solar Power building- solar pizza oven
Day Three: Review solar field trip and projects; Review Carbon Cycle and Biomass energy/Brazil as example of Biomass energy
Day Four: Review/Wave, Tidal, Ocean energy/ Energy from Dams – are dams damaging? Visit to our local dam
Week Four: (I chose water as our last area of sustainability to look at) (would love to have a field trip to a local water filtration plant this week)
Day One: Review the water cycle/Read One Well: The Story of Water on Earth/ Use Water, Water Anywhere lesson plan from The Water Project
Day Two: Review sustainability spheres we started with in the beginning/ Use Dirty Water – So What? lesson plan from The Water Project
Day Three: Review with quiz from The Water Project on the Dirty Water- So What lesson/make a Tippy Tap in the backyard
Day Four: Review/ Use Village Voices plan from The Water Project/finish up all work
This is a great idea, Carrie. I am doing life science with my 8th grader this year but I can add a special sustainability block.
It’s interesting to me that your daughter may go to high school. That is the direction we were heading with our son (his dad especially wants this), but the child is leaning toward homeschooling. And I thought deciding about kindergarten was hard!
Right? I am happy to see what happens!
Love this! I will definitely save this post for later. Sustainability was my favorite topic as a young person and I can’t wait to get to it with my kids. If you cover agriculture, one of my favorite books was The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka, one that is so enjoyable I think young people would enjoy reading it so much!
Thank you , Abby!