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Adaptation and Survival (4) Launch Playlist
Global Warming
Air Pollution
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Project Chariot
A Dating Game (6) Launch Playlist
NOAA: Seamounts
NOAA: Hurricanes
NOAA: Ocean Waves
Composite Volcanoes
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Balancing Acts (1) Launch Playlist
Global Warming & Environmental Law
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UCLA Co-Generation Facility
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NOAA: Chemosynthesis and Vent Life
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Range of Tolerance
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Carrying Capacity
Economic Factors
Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy
Solar Heating System
Photovoltaic Cells
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NOAA: Ocean Waves
Sustainable Environment
Great Buffalo Shortage (6) Launch Playlist
Mining for Borax
Unsustainable Frontier Ethic
Tree Harvesting
The Fight to Preserve the Bollana Wetlands
Area Strip Mining
Mine Restoration
Water, Water Everywhere! (4) Launch Playlist
NOAA: Water Cycle
Water Distillation
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Cycling Up Hill (4) Launch Playlist
A Modern Landfill
External Costs
NOAA Collection
Earth Science Multimedia
Ocean Today
Environmental Visualization Lab
BioInteractive Collection
Environmental Science
Chattanooga State Technical Community College Collection
The Chemistry of Global Climate Change
National Geographic Creative Collection
Environmental Science
APES in a BOX Collection
AP* Environmental Science Review
NASA Collection
Real World—Earth Science
The Concord Consortium Collection
Environmental Science
PhET Collection
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Chattanooga State Technical Community College Collection
The Chemistry of Global Climate Change
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Environmental Science

How a ‘half-life’ can impact a whole life…

More Blog Posts

In the aftermath of unexpected earthquakes in unlikely locales, in anticipation of the already interesting hurricane season, and in preparation for 10th anniversary remembrances of September 11, 2001, we start these content-focused blogs with the timely EPA issue of Emergencies. Addressing ‘uncertainty’ within the context of Environmental Science, we can empower students to be prepared for and respond more readily to natural disasters, hazardous spills, and the unexpected by helping them understand the basics. These future decision-makers may be able to safeguard against the rapid changes happening on a global scale and certainly cope better with the consequences with an understanding of the complete process.

Think back to last month's Balancing Acts activity... often, seemingly unrelated subjects are tightly linked. For example, the nuclear emergency in Japan that most of us watched in real-time this spring was caused by a tsunami. In the event of a nuclear disaster, calculating the half-life of radioactive contamination will determine when an area is safe. We tend to dismiss radioactivity as a natural phenomenon; many people think that it only occurs in nuclear power plants or as the result of a nuclear accident. Radioactive rays are emitted when a radioactive atom decays. Nuclear radiation can be a good thing depending on how it is released. Nuclear medicine is a specialty that relies on the process of radioactive decay in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, for example.

Students often associate ‘half-life’ with nuclear power, but do not understand always that it equally applies to other naturally radioactive elements - nor do they associate the dangers of the long-term ramifications of radioactive materials disposal with respect to nuclear waste management. Best used as a formative assessment, A Dating Game helps learners internalize what a ‘half-life’ really represents with a simple, fun, and safe activity that stimulates discussion. Click here to download the assignment details!

HippoCampus Connections: The ability to transfer knowledge across situations is a sure sign of understanding and mastery. The Coral Age Dating activity in NOAA: Seamounts is a real-life simulation of the concept presented to actually define and apply isotopic age dating of corals.

Because some students may not comprehend the drastic effects of natural disasters, the before and after images in NOAA: Hurricanes can help them appreciate the powers at play. And, in the case of natural disasters, we can show students a proactive aspect as early warning systems have been implemented to evacuate threatened areas, for example see the Tsunami Warning System in NOAA: Ocean Waves.

Instructor Notes: As those of us who replay the vivid images of the 2001 terrorist attacks in our mind’s eye realize how ubiquitous communication networks can have equally positive and negative impacts that do not cancel out, but accumulate over time. Therefore, it’s important to identify, acknowledge, and possibly discuss the differences in perspectives among the many stakeholders who influence your students. Remember that most of today’s high school students were likely just 3-8 years old way back in 2001! I’m excited about the potential of leveraging new technologies for the betterment of the environment and its inhabitants – come whatever may… Challenge your students to make a difference right now! What Apps for the Environment might they propose?

How to Make a Playlist on HippoCampus:
A four-minute tutorial video
Chemistry in Context, 8th Edition, The Chemistry of Global Climate Change course text:
ARKIVE, Images of Life on Earth:
Environmental Inquiry -- Authentic Scientific Research for High School Students, Cornell University:
NASA Earth Observatory:
NIEHS -- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health:
NOAA Education Resources:
Leopold Education Project, Pheasants Forever Land Ethic Curriculum:
CEE, Council for Environmental Education:
NAAEE, North American Association for Environmental Education:
EARTHWEEK, A Diary of the Planet:
EPA, United States Environmental Protection Agency::
Ocean Portal, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History:

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