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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Kids at Work: Students on the Front Lines of Environmental Defense

How kids can respond to the oil spill disaster by working on environmental projects.
Credit: Xplane

Aqua Cops

Young people who care about local water set sail and take action. At the New York Harbor School, students join forces with local environmental groups to regularly monitor the health of water.


Credit: Xplane

Coastal Counting

By counting, measuring, and identifying stingrays, sharks, and skates, as well as bottom fish, high school students help scientists make connections between human activities, natural events, and the health of coastal waters.


Credit: Xplane

Mollusk Monitors

Can counting and measuring clams help environmental agencies make smarter decisions about conservation and land management? Absolutely. Just ask students who gather this important data.


Credit: Xplane

Fishy Business

After cleaning up a local stream, the United Anglers of Casa Grande revived the trout population and then added to it by creating a hatchery. Working with marine scientists, they aspire to protect and enrich trout and salmon species, using only donations to stay afloat.


Credit: Xplane

Eyes on Eggs

Kids watch nests to give scientists a better understanding of how changes in land use and climate impact birds, while learning about fine-feathered parenting at the same time.


Credit: Xplane

Trashing Trash

At one annual coastal-cleanup day, thousands of volunteers, many of them school-age kids, pick up trash along coastal and inland waterways, canyons, and streets. During a recent outing, more than 5,000 volunteers compiled roughly 45,000 tons of trash and recyclables at sixty sites.



Credit: Xplane

Air Traffic

By observing birds in backyards, on balconies, and at rooftop gardens, kids give scientists insights into the areas urban birds prefer.


Credit: Xplane

Take a Breather

Visibility Volunteers take air-quality readings on hikes in states ranging from Maine to Virginia, creating data that will be used for public education as well as to improve air-quality laws.


Credit: Xplane

Seeing Spots

Data from kids counting ladybugs give scientists a better grasp on why native species seem to be disappearing.


Credit: Xplane

Best Buds

Citizen scientists of all ages check the effects of climate change in their own backyards, noting details such as plant and tree blooms to help scientists determine the role and impact of global warming.


Sharing Resources

And don't forget to check out Edutopia's Go Green Database to explore our ever-expanding trove of environmentally-conscious teaching tools. Search for lesson plans, Web sites, and educational resources by topic, grade level, cost, or location, or add your resource. Or join a discussion in our Green Schools Group.

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Polly Smull's picture
Polly Smull
Grades 3 & 4 teacher

I like to teach thematically and usually look at current events for inspiration on themes. I'd like to teach a 3 month unit on oil. Sort of like "oil 101." What is it? How does it form? And bring it up to today: oil spill disasters. Can you direct me to any resources for the grade level that I teach?

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