Environmental Issues Research and Presentation

Image Credit: NASA
Image Credit: NASA

Earlier in the school year, to cap off our unit on the environment, my 6th graders completed an environmental issues research project and  presentation. This project was a great opportunity for the students to demonstrate both their public speaking and tech skills, as well as provide a forum for student-directed learning. Each student had a chance to teach their peers about their topic and lead a demonstration or activity related to their environmental issue. They did a fantastic job and came up with activities that really enhanced their presentations. The students were engaged and supportive of their peers.

Just a few examples of their demonstrations/activities: 

  • Noise Pollution – using a decibel app, one student asked the class to take part in different activities and monitored the noise level. The student then compared the noise level in the classroom to their equivalents such as jack hammers or traffic.
  • Garbage Patch – using a tray with an ocean/coastal scene decorated with items attached to magnets, one student demonstrated how gyres in the Pacific Ocean move plastics from the coast to the Great Garbage Patch by sliding magnets under the tray.
  • Poaching – each student took part in a role-playing game modeled after “Assassin/Spy”. Each student was given a role card (such as an elephant, tiger, or poacher). As they played the game, students had to find the poacher to save as many animals as they could.

Materials

  • List of 50 environmental issue topics (pdf)
  • Detailed project requirements (pdf)
  • Peer review sheet (pdf)
    • this was for personal note taking, not shared with the presenter

Planning

  • Day 1 – Introduction and pre-research, students pick their top 10 choices
  • Day 2 – Students pick topics and brainstorm 10 guiding questions to help guide their research
  • Day 3 – Discussion in small groups, students share questions and modify
  • Days 4 to 7 – Research phase
  • Days 8 to end – Students present topics
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The Heavens Playlist – Using Spotify

As an introduction to our Space Unit, we created a playlist with songs that mentioned stars, comets, the moon, and other celestial features in the lyrics. Each student submitted a song and then created a ppt slide with 2-4 lines of lyrics and images related to that song. We printed out the ppt slides and created a fun space themed bulletin board. Below is one that I created as an example. (“Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars)

Talking to the Moon (1)

To keep track of the songs in the playlist, I created a shared Google Doc and students submitted their songs on a first come, first served basis over a time period of 2 weeks. No two students in the same class could use the same song. I used Spotify to make the playlist and whenever the students were working independently or in groups, we had the playlist playing in the background.

One of the students chose this classic song by Ernie: