If you are looking for an Earth Day activity that covers the complexities of changes to our Earth, this virtual field trip is sure to grab your students' attention. This digital activity is set up in Google Slides and includes Google Earth™ exploration, video links, informational text, and more.
Discussing the availability of natural resources, the occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate is complex and may seem a bit daunting. This activity is structured, and provides an opportunity for students to dig deeper and evaluate the changes to our Earth from various perspectives.
This trip begins with a look at the first Earth Day in 1970. From there, students travel to six different locations around the world to learn about human and Earth activity. Each location includes informational text, clickable links, and response questions.
I totally get that technology can be a big headache, and so this trip is simplified with clickable links that take students directly to videos, and 360° views on Google Earth™. All of the response questions are editable, so they can be changed to meet your class needs. I've also put together a blog post with some tutorials if your school uses a platform other than Google Slides, as well as a few tech tips and workarounds.
Stop 1: Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is seen as a global icon, and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Students will learn about some of the cumulative threats to the Great Barrier Reef including coral bleaching. This stop includes an underwater 360° tour of the Great Barrier Reef.
Stop 2: Great Pacific Garbage Patch
This stop looks at the plastic trash vortex in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii. Two short video clips discuss micoplastics, and how they are harmful to marine life and humans. Students are asked to come up with ways that humans can act responsibly when it comes to supporting and managing our ocean resources.
Stop 3: Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon rainforest provides economic products such as Brazil nuts, cocoa, and rubber which contribute to Brazil's economy. Deforestation, which is the removal of large areas of the forest hurt not only the natural environment, but impacts the indigenous peoples as well. This stop looks at these complex issues from various perspectives.
Stop 4: Dehli, India
This stop looks at the importance of breathing clean air for both humans and other living beings. Students will visit the India Gate, will learn about the sources of air pollution in India, as well as some of the challenges. Students will have an opportunity to evaluate the long-term solutions that India has implemented to address air pollution.
Stop 5: Mozambique, Africa
Freshwater is essential to the sustainability of human societies. More than 2 billion people live in areas that are at risk for severe water scarcity, and in Mozambique over half the country lives without clean water. At this stop, students will learn about the occurrence of natural hazards (drought, cyclones), the water crisis, the decreasing water levels at Lake Amaramba, and the impacts to human activity.
Stop 6: The Arctic
During the final stop, students will learn about indigenous peoples and how exploration and modernization has disrupted traditional arctic ways of life. At this stop, students will also learn about shrinking sea ice and how that impacts ice-dependent species. Natural resource extraction is also addressed. Students are asked to analyze a short video clip for its position on drilling, the evidence the video provides, and what perspectives are missing. Finally, this stop looks at warming temperatures and how this impacts the life cycle of certain animals such as the spruce bark beetle.
Take Action & Reflection
This virtual field trip provides a number of action steps that students can take within their own community and lifestyle. Some examples include using refillable bottles to reduce plastic, unplugging to enjoy the outdoors, participating in a local event, or joining a cause. As well, students are asked to write an action statement. This could be something simple, like making a commitment to turn off the lights when they leave a room, or it could be a commitment to learn more about the Earth and human activity.
A great complementary activity to this Earth Day activity is the virtual field trip to Sustainable Communities around the world. This trip covers some of the action steps that humans are taking to address sustainability.
Want to see more? Check out this video tutorial, I have put together to take a closer look: