I’m back with another set of bookmarks for students and teachers. Because I’ve taught the IB Environmental systems and societies course for several years, this set of online resources is closest to my heart. Some of these links are here simply because I think they’re cool or fun. Many may also be applicable for studying biology and chemistry as well. Let’s get to it:
- United States Census Bureau. Extensive database of global human populations. Can be used to create age-sex pyramids, as well as other applications.
- Earth wind map. A cool interactive resource to check wind patterns in real time anywhere on the planet.
- Visualizing Environmental Science, 1st edition. By John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Online textbook and animations. Much of the site is password protected, but parts are available for free.
- IB Environmental systems and societies worksheets and past questions. From Pearson, a of publisher of one of the IB-aligned student textbooks.
- Edge of Existence, by the London Zoological Society. Full of resources on endangered species.
- Living National Treasures. A guide to threatened and endangered species which are endemic to a single country and nowhere else. Searchable by country or species.
- Aquatic and Terrestrial Biomes. University of Miami, Florida, USA. The page looks a little dated but is still a wealth of information.
- The Habitable Planet. An extensive digital platform for teaching “the systems approach to environmental science”. By the Annenberg Foundation and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
- Ecology and geography fieldwork techniques.
- Survey techniques for beginners. From Wild About Britain.
- Field survey methods from the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage. More advanced than resources above.
- Wildlife Surveys presentation 1. A powerpoint presentation about how to conduct wildlife surveys.
- Wildlife Surveys presentation 2. A powerpoint presentation about how to conduct wildlife surveys.
- Wildlife survey field lab template. This PDF from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a good layout to help middle school teachers and students design their own field surveys.
- GRID-Arendal Maps and Infographics Library. In association with UNEP. This is one of my favorite resources for teaching environmental science. Searchable by topic, keyword, or geography. All maps and images are free to share. Awesome!
- Timelapse. Watch the world change over the course of nearly three decades of satellite photography.
- Ocean Health Index. A searchable database around several components of ocean health.
- NicheScience. An IB ESS YouTube channel, with podcasts for most of the old syllabus and a growing list of videos aligned with the new syllabus.
- AP Environmental Science. Another YouTube playlist from the very talented Paul Andersen.
- Kyoto Protocol. A website dedicated to the organizations and research involved in the effort to understand climate change.
- IPCC official website. Home of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service homepage.
- Animation gallery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Searchable. Reliable. Lots of visual data.
- Visualizing global carbon footprints. Interactive data maps from National Geographic.
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. From the World Food and Agriculture Organization.
- ARKive photo and video collections organized by species, conservation status, geography, environmental topic, habitat, and student age group. UK-centered.
- Edible Schoolyard. All the resources you need to create a food garden at your school. Based on the very successful program in the U.S.
Posted in Environmental Systems, MYP Science, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized
Tagged 21st century learning, Africa, agriculture, biodiversity, biology, chemistry, climate change, conservation, cool stuff, ecological pyramids, ecology, ecosystems, Education, elephants, energy, Energy resources, environmental perspectives, environmental science, ESS, evolution, food resources, human impact on the environment, human populations, life science, online resources, photosynthesis, plants, poaching, population growth, research, resources, science, Science education, trophic levels, videos
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been updating various pages within my website, and as I work, I keep encountering all these different websites and digital resources I’ve bookmarked over the years. My bookmarks bar is organized by broad scientific subjects: astronomy,biology, chemistry, ecology, and physics. I’ve also got a folder dedicated solely to scientific games. I will share the resources in these folders in subsequent posts, organized by subject area. Once posted in the blog, I’ll then add all bookmarks to the general science pages in my website, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to share them with the broader global community as well. I have so many of these resources that I’m going to have to split the list into two parts – the bookmarks from my Chrome browser and those from Firefox.
Today: biology resources for students (and teachers!) in no particular order.
- The Cell: Basic Unit of Structure and Function by McGraw-Hill. Animations, quizzes, flashcards, and other resources aligned with their Human Anatomy textbook. Links to other chapters can be found in the sidebar.
- Bioman Biology. Interactive biology games on a variety of topics, including physiology, cells, ecology, genetics, evolution, DNA, respiration, and photosynthesis.
- Carbon cycle animation from the University of Alberta, Canada. A simple but comprehensive flow chart (system diagram) of the global carbon cycle.
- InstaGrok interactive concept maps. Pre-made concept maps showing links between a whole bunch of topics in general biology. Click on a term to see links to other biology topics, facts, websites, videos, images, or add your own notes.
- Cells Alive! This site has been around for years. Good, easy-to-understand interactive cell models.
- DNA video from NotCot.org. A beautiful 3 minute animation explaining DNA for BBC Knowledge from Territory.
- John Kimball’s online biology textbook. This guy has been teaching biology for decades, and he’s amassed an incredible amount of resources on his site around every conceivable topic in biology. It’s kind of an old-school site, but it’s thorough.
- Learn.Genetics at the University of Utah, USA. I use the tutorials from this site extensively in my genetics and evolution units.
- Bozeman Science biology playlist on YouTube. 76 videos! 76! This playlist contains videos that could be useful in AP Biology, IB Biology, Biology, and other life sciences, all from the amazing Paul Andersen.
- Mitosis World Home at University of North Carolina, USA. An aggregate of several other biology resources.
- Discover Biology animations from W.W. Norton & Co. High-quality animations that can be viewed straight through, step-by-step, or narrated.
- Interactive transpiration animation from ScienceMag. Adjust plant parameters and environmental conditions to see different effects on the movement of water through plants. With some creativity, you could run a virtual lab from this animation.
- Understanding Evolution at the University of California – Berkeley. Densely packed with information and thoroughly researched. I use this site as a main reference for my evolution units. The site has been around a long time and is showing its age, but it’s still highly useful.
- Sex determination video at TED-Ed. One of many useful resources from the TED people. Includes a review quiz and discussion questions.
- Biology for Life. A great website from Gretel von Bargen at Skyline High School in Washington state, USA. It follows the new IB Biology syllabus. Also linked to her Twitter feed. I use this site a ton.
- Bioknowledgy. Probably my favorite site for IB Biology. Chris Paine in Shanghai has created an extensive library of resources and materials aligned with the new IB Biology syllabus. Includes presentations, videos, and guided revision questions, among other resources. Awesome!
I hope that’s a good start for now. If you find any helpful resources you think I’ve missed, please send them my way in the comments, and I’ll add them to the second batch.
Posted in biology, Environmental Systems, MYP Science
Tagged 21st century learning, biology, cells, cool stuff, Education, ESS, evolution, life science, online resources, organelles, photosynthesis, plants, research, resources, science, Science education, science skills, videos
We are rapidly approaching one of my favorite things about my job: the Extended Studies Program, or ESP. ESP is our school’s “week without walls,” when students and teachers leave the comforts of classrooms and campus and travel to different parts of Tanzania to learn about and experience the people and ecology in those locations.
Each year, students in grades 6 through 11 spend a week in one of an awesomely diverse locations around Tanzania:
- 6th graders go to Zanzibar for an exploration of art and architecture, reef and mangrove ecology, and a history of the east African slave trade.
- 7th graders spend a week in the Uluguru Mountains on a service learning trip with the Waluguru, the only matrilineal ethnic group in Tanzania.
- 8th graders venture to Amani Nature Reserve, where they experience the differences between managed and natural forests, as well as night hikes searching for rare species of chameleons and frogs (my personal favorite).
- 9th and 10th graders have several options for their ESP trips:
- Mountain biking in the Usambara Mountains
- Service trips in Arusha or in a Maasai boma
- Hiking in Lushoto district
- Trekking across the Ngorogoro Crater Highlands
- Ecological monitoring at the Makatube Island Marine Reserve
- Service work on the Chem-Chem school project
- Morogoro photography
- IB1 students in grade 11 engage in a field course for biology and geography
In my opinion, these kinds of trips provide the most engaging educational experiences our students will get during the school year. There are no worksheets, no essays, no problems to solve, no presentations to make. Students push themselves, and teachers push them, in ways that are generally not possible during lessons. The interconnectedness of different fields of study becomes evident while out of the classroom – the impact of climate on agriculture, which in turn influences economics, culture and family structure, which then have further knock-on effects on music, literature, and politics.
ESPs are wonderful because of their ‘big picture-ness’.
Posted in biology, MYP Science, Random Thoughts
Tagged biodiversity, biology, conservation, cool stuff, ecology, Education, ESS, science, Science education, Tanzania
Welcome – or welcome back – to another exciting year of learning about science!
After recharging my internal batteries on an extended safari with my dad and brother, followed by a couple of weeks in Italy with my children and my mom, I’m energized for the upcoming school year. It’s time to get started on what should be an exciting, innovative, engaging year for myself and all the students in my classes.
We’ve overhauled the grade 8 science curriculum since last year, which means that this year we’ll be studying astronomy, chemistry, electricity and magnetism, and plant adaptations – a nice mix of sciences that will hopefully offer a little something for everyone.
Grade 10 science is broken into the three ‘classic’ sciences of chemistry, physics, and biology, with units on stoichiometry, sound and light waves, and genetics and evolution, respectively.
This year is particularly intriguing for me as I make the transition from teaching the Diploma Program’s Environmental Systems and Societies course for the past 7 years to my first year teaching IB Biology. It will be fun to apply some of my “teaching bag o’ tricks” to a new subject.
Let’s get started!
Posted in MYP Science, Random Thoughts
Tagged astronomy, biology, chemistry, Education, ESS, evolution, physics, science, Science education, Tanzania
Normally, I love living in Tanzania, surrounded by friendly people, amazing coasts, and almost unrivaled biodiversity. But a story recently published by The Guardian really saddens me.
The short and dirty version (and it’s a pretty dirty story, in my opinion) is that the Tanzanian government wants to sell a massive chunk of land near Serengeti National Park to the royal family of Dubai for their use as a personal hunting ground. The government claims the land will be a ‘wildlife corridor’, but President Kikwete’s representatives have told the Maasai – who have lived and died in the designated part of Tanzania for hundreds of years – that they must leave their land by the end of the year.
Tanzania is offering the Maasai $578,000 in total for the 370,000 acres (150,000 hectares) as compensation. That’s about one Pound Sterling per acre, split among the 40,000 people living there. And the government proposes to funnel the payment through ‘development projects’ instead of direct reimbursement! More bluntly: about US$14 per person for getting kicked off their land.
This same scheme was theoretically halted after large protests and a lot of international media attention last year, but the governing party seems intent on seeing it through. Considering the recent news of government officials’ knowing participation in, and even encouragement of, illegal poaching, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this plot become a staging ground for ivory exports on a massive scale.
If you haven’t heard about this issue before now, I’m hopeful that maybe the renewed public interest will put a halt to this process. But I doubt it.
You can add this to one of the reasons why Tanzania is such a special place.
Sanje Falls, Udzungwa National Park, in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania. Photo credit: author.
This article from Tanzania’s Daily News online paper outlines the discovery of 27 new species, most of which are reptiles and amphibians. The collaborative effort between the Tropical Biodiversity Section of the MUSE-Science Museum in Italy and the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group shows just how unique the Eastern Arc Mountains are – the Ulugurus, the Udzungwas, and the Usambaras. (They also have fantastic names!)
Not only do these tropical forests harbor a large number of endemic species, they are critically important in maintaining freshwater resources that people depend on for agriculture and domestic uses such as cooking, bathing, and drinking. This link exemplifies why the protection of habitats – and not just a focus on individual species – is so important. If we take a holistic, big-picture approach to resource conservation, many of the associated issues in development become more manageable: more people have more access to cleaner water, meaning that improved personal hygiene and sanitation lead to lower medical costs. Simultaneously, when coupled with sustainable management of soils, food security improves, leading to the economic growth of farmers’ livelihoods. Higher levels of biodiversity in protected areas often also mean an uptick in tourism and the revenue that generates for both local communities and national governments.
Udzungwa forest. Look closely, and you can see my son on the footbridge at the bottom of the photo.
The conservation of biodiversity in the context of a developing country like Tanzania is a tricky, complex process involving myriad factors, all of which are changing rapidly. If the answer were simple, the problems mentioned above would have been solved decades ago. I just hope that the people making those decisions can find a way to sort it out before we’ve lost it all forever – the forests, the species, and the livelihoods.
Posted in Environmental Systems
Tagged biodiversity, conservation, Eastern Arc, ecosystems, endemic species, ESS, forest, habitat, Tanzania, Udzungwa, Uluguru, Usambara, water
Mrs Courtney Park, IST Librarian and Media Specialist extraordinaire, shared this document with me yesterday, and I’ve already put it on the bulletin boards in my classrooms. If you are a student (or anyone doing online research for that matter), this is a great resource. Check it out, download it, study it, and use it. If you’re one of my students, know that this will make navigating our Google Classroom experience much, much easier, more efficient, and hopefully highly effective for learning. In other words, you can become a Google Ninja!
Click here for the full infographic.
I came across this article on my Twitter feed this morning. It relates to several topics within our ESS syllabus, such as Topic 4 – Conservation and Biodiversity, Topic 6 – Global Warming, and Topic 3 – Resources as Natural Capital.
It outlines the potential links between trading carbon credits on an international exchange, economic development in rural Africa, wildlife conservation, and the battle to combat ivory poaching.
The article linked below outlines the impact of human population growth on global marine fisheries. It has been well-established through scientific research that as people become wealthier, they consume more protein. And as Earth’s human population continues to grow, the pressure on fisheries becomes two-fold: not only are there more people fishing (population growth), but those people are becoming wealthier (economic growth) and eating more seafood per person. This article ties in brilliantly to ESS Topic 3 – Human Populations, Resource Use, and Carrying Capacity.
Click here for the full article.
This article from Scientific American outlines a recent idea sweeping across much of East Africa, including several projects and start-up companies here in Tanzania.
The idea is quite simple, actually: Rural families who can’t afford the high costs in setting up a traditional solar electricity system are able to pre-pay for a certain amount of electricity generated by the solar kit. Once they’ve used the electricity paid for, the kit shuts off access until they make another payment – just like the scratch-off cards for mobile phone vouchers we use here in Dar es Salaam – and payments can be made via M-Pesa or similar services. When they have the cash, they buy more electricity, and once they’ve paid for the full kit, it continues to generate electricity for them for free!
Published on the same day was this article from Mary Ellen Harte at the Huffington Post, outlining current and future developments in the field of renewable energy. She focuses specifically on solar energy, with some discussion of wind, wave, and geothermal power as well.
Both of these articles fit nicely within our ESS Topic 3.3.3 – “Outline the factors that affect the choice of energy sources adopted by different societies.”