Blog Archives

The Story of Electronics (video): cut down the ‘stuff’ this holiday

Tis the season to be jolly – and to ask for new shiny gadgets to replace the still newish, slightly less shiny doodas we already have. But how often do we really think about the impacts of our disposable culture?

Watch Annie Leonard’s clip on the story of electronics and take principled actions this holiday season.

For more videos like this, check out her YouTube channel or book.

The Looming Water Crisis

Could we run out of water before we run out of oil?

World Water Day is just around the corner – March 22nd.

Powerful messages abound regarding the impending socio-political, environmental and humanitarian disaster of the global water shortage. Watching the presentation and video above you will notice some startling, terrifying statistics. As a critical thinking or data-literacy task, can you track down the sources of those statistics?

What is 'Water Stress?'

With Earth Day (April 22) coming up, and the GIN conference around the same time, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the water shortage as an issue upon which we, as learners and leaders, can take action.This would in itself be a great topic for local and global CAS, or a self-contained theme for the Group 4 Project.

Find out more about the world water crisis here:

Some resources to use:

Using the resources above, as well as other local orgnisations, can the school develop and monitor a sustainable water plan?

Here’s a cool video, with a good soundtrack, from charity:water

Do you have any more resources and ideas for the water crisis to share? Add them in the comments below!

Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie

I cannot wait to see this movie! David Suzuki is a life-long environmental hero, with a colourful history and a huge impact on environmental-mindedness. Wikipedia has a nice summary of his life so far.

From the website:

“David Suzuki, iconic Canadian scientist, educator, broadcaster and activist delivers a ‘last lecture’ — what he describes as “a distillation of my life and thoughts, my legacy, what I want to say before I die”.

The film interweaves the lecture with scenes from the places and events in Suzuki’s life — creating a biography of ideas — forged by the major social, scientific and cultural events of the past 70 years.”

If you’re a Suzuki fan, ‘like’ his facebook page, too!

The Greenhouse Effect

Although just a few short assessment statements, this topic is one we could investigate for weeks. Key to understanding this is thinking about how we evaluate the precautionary principle with regard to anthropogenic environmental impacts:

The theory that an action should be taken when a problem or threat occurs, not after harm has been inflicted; an approach to decision- making in risk management which justifies preventive measures or policies despite scientific uncertainty about whether detrimental effects will occur“. From

(Includes some slides from G3 Human Impacts, related to Ozone Layer)

Essential Biology 5.2 The Greenhouse Effect ——   Click4Biology:The Greenhouse Effect

While working through all of the resources, think about how you distinguish between the following:

  • natural and enhanced greenhouse effect
  • anthropogenic vs natural causes
  • global warming vs climate change vs climate destabilisation

In this TED Global 2010 talk, Lee Hotz describes the work of researchers in the Antarctic, studying the history of our planet’s climate, through drilling ice-cores that go back in thousands of years.

For all the rest of the resources (and stacks of video clips), click on over to the main page for 5.2 Greenhouse Effect.

Stephen Palumbi: Following the mercury trail

In another TED Talk from the Mission Blue Voyage, Marine Biologist Stephen Palumbi talks about biomagnification – how mercury from the bottom of the ocean food chain makes its way up into the human body, with terrible results.

With a close link to recent HPD topics on the environment’s link to health and to G3: Impacts of Humans on Ecosystems, Palumbi highlights the tight connection between the oceans and our own health as humans.It might better be entitled “Protecting the Ocean Pyramid,” or “Beach closed due to excess human fecal matter.

How We Wrecked The Oceans – Jeremy Jackson at TED

In another great (but more than a little worrying) talk from TED 2010, Jeremy Jackson (coral reef ecologist, not star of Baywatch), gives a picture of the real state of the oceans, and the massive damages we as a species have caused.

The Story of Bottled Water

This is a nice clip. Next time you reach for a bottle of “...the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world*,” think about the Story of Bottled Water. With Earth Day coming up, it’s a good opportunity to think of the impacts of the little decisions we make on daily basis. Do you need to buy all those bottles of water? In many countries, tap water is as good or better in terms of cleanliness, and even in places like Indonesia, dispensers are everywhere.

How could we significantly reduce the use of plastic bottles in our school?

The story of stuff is a fledgling YouTube channel with a decent purpose – to educate people about the way our motivation for ‘stuff’ becomes a global problem, and how we can take steps to solve the problems.

Maybe it’s time to follow in the footsteps of this Australian town.

*Nice greenwashing there, Nestle.

IB students can think about the links between science and economics in this story, including manufactured demand, pseudoscientific claims and making profits from portraying a product as being more ‘green’ than it really is. Greenwashing is a growing problem, and it takes real critical thinking skills to be able to deduce greenwashing claims  from genuine information. Check out this SlideShare presentation for more information:

Oceans: Disney’s Earth Day Super-doc

Following last year’s Earth, Disney are releasing Oceans on Earth Day. Loaded with symbolism and lovely shots, though unlikely to be as informative as the brilliant Blue Planet series, it might just inspire more people to take care of the oceans and be aware of their importance to us. I hope it hits the big screens here in Indonesia!

Here’s an idea Disney – if you’re serious about sending the message, why not give the tickets away to schools for free?

Virtual Urchin – Tutorials from Stanford

Here are some flash tutorials from the team at Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford. They make good use of the properties of the sea urchin’s gametes for studies and learning experiences:

Fertilisation and Development Lab

Fertilisation and Development

“Gametes of sea urchins yield exceptional experiences in the classroom; teachers and students alike are riveted by being able to observe fertilization, cell division and embryonic development. The gametes are easy to use, the developmental stages are readily seen with the microscope and the rapidity of fertilization and early cell divisions allows the student to ask questions and obtain answers within the bounds of a normal classroom schedule. The utility of urchins for inquiry-based science is unrivaled.”

Head on over there to have a go at some of their labs, including a neat microscope tutorial, practice with microscope measurements, fertilisation and development and a ocean acidification investigation.

Not a video, but…

… a great site for visualising data.

Deadliest infections, from Information is Beautiful

Deadliest infections, from Information is Beautiful

I particularly like these posts:

How safe is the HPV vaccine? (in response to ridiculous scare-mongering news stories)

The Billion-dollar-gram (What is a billion, anyway?)

Surface area required to solar-power the world.

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