Earth's Capacity

Explore Your Environment – Earth’s Capacity focuses on environmental stewardship and issues such as transportation choices, waste management, composting, recycling, and natural resources.

Field Notes

Chapter 1: Dream Steward

Be an environmental steward

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Chapter 2: Abundance and Scarcity

DNR kids page

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Chapter 3: My Land Use

How NASA Studies Land

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Kid and community

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Exploring your public lands

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Chapter 4: Our Carrying Capacity

Populations, sustainability, and earth's capacity

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Individual species in the deep sea

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Odd couples

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How animals have developed symbiotic relationships with their environments over time

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Chapter 5: Butterflies I See

Learn about butterflies and moths

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Photograph gallery

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MonarchLab

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Chapter 6: Aliens in the New World

Alien invasion

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General information about invasive species

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The lionfish invasion!

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Chapter 7: Investigating my Climate

Earth's Greenhouse Effect

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Greenhouse Effect

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Chapter 8: Responding to Global Climate Change

Earth's climate and global change

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Climate and global change image

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The EPA climate change for kids

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Chapter 9: Take in the Trash

Tox town

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Kung Fu Trash Master

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Chapter 10: My Ecological Footprint

Footprint Quiz

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Chapter 11: My promise to the Earth

Ecology: a way of life in Earth-friendly community

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Chapter 12: Community Action Leadership Challenge

Minnesota: environmental sustainability

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Population, health, and the environment

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Ecosystems Services

Ecosystems Service provides youth with the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities that focus on our ecosystems, climate change, life cycles, ecological footprints, and living a sustainable life.

Field Notes

Pollination Buzz Sample Activity

Chapter 1: Introduction to Ecosystem Services

What is soil?

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What's under your feet?

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Soil forming factors

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Chapter 2: Pollination Buzz

A honeybee's job

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Wild bees make great pollinators

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Chapter 3: What's that You're Drinking?

Watersheds

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Water matters

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Example of a watershed

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Chapter 4: Soil Detective

A world of soils

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What is soil conservation?

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Chapter 5: How Does Soil Form?

Landfills affect soil

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A top to bottom guide

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Chapter 6: How Much is Soil Worth?

Exhibition

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Wise choice

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Chapter 7: Food as a Provisioning Service

A kid's guide to food

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Food science

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Chapter 8: Fuel as a Provisioning Service

Energy timelines

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Ethanol fact book

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Chapter 9: Recreation and Ecotourism

Federal recreation

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Ecotourism

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Chapter 10: Cultural and Aesthetic Values

Environmental kids club

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Facilitator Guide

The Exploring Your Environment Facilitator’s Guide will provide training, supplemental activities and resources to help the facilitator deliver the Exploring Your Environment curriculum.

Facilitator Guide Preview

Children learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process, are encouraged to ask questions and contribute ideas, and are recognized as a learning resource. If you have several years of experience working with youth or this is your first time, you will find these questions helpful to create a rich learning environment. You will also help youth gain new insights, not only into our environment, but into themselves and others.

The Environment: Context

  • Is there shared learning and conversation among adults and youth? Is the learning taking place as a social process?
  • Does the setting promote safety? (physically? verbally? non-verbally? emotionally?)
  • Do youth feel in control by making choices?
  • Are youth given opportunities to demonstrate mastery, independence, generosity, and belonging?
  • Are youth actively engaged in hands-on, minds-on activities?

The Learning: Content

  • Is it fun? Is the learning active, intentional, and does it provide opportunity for reflection?
  • Are youth inventing their way of thinking about the world?
  • Are youth engaged in self-discovery?
  • Are youth relating learning to real-world experiences?
  • Are youth taking responsibility for their learning?
  • Are youth constructing their learning by broadening their knowledge, skills, and attitudes about a topic?
  • Is embedded evaluations obvious? Do the products of the learning show that youth learned (such as a speech/a constructed or built object/a completed project).
  • Are youth displaying their work? In a public place? Among peers?

The Facilitation: Delivery

  • Are questions used to encourage youth?
  • Does the experience allow opportunity for reflection?
  • Are ideas or concepts broken down into small, understandable parts (six or less)?
  • Is the content adapted to meet the interests, knowledge and abilities of participants?
  • Am I an active learner and listener?
  • Are strategies being discussed to stimulate lifelong learning?
  • Am I asking questions? Am I prompting youth to ask questions? Am I catching teachable moments to deepen the learning?

View Films About the Environment

Into the Wind, Parts 1-4
4‑H Upstream
4‑H Downstream
Renewable Energies
Hudson River Clearwater Revival
GloWorld
After the Burn
Wind Energy
Water Quality Testing, Wayne County, MI
The Four Horizons

Grab and Gos

These 10 Grab and Go's are downloadable 2-page activities that can be printed and used in your program!

Devise solutions to improve negative impacts on waterways and watersheds and reinforce positive impacts existing along waterways and surrounding watersheds.

Age Level: Middle School Grades 6-8

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Understand how to apply the life cycle analysis to become better environmental stewards.

Age Level: Middle School Grades 6-8

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Recognize the importance of inter-relationships between the living and non-living elements in an ecosystem.

Age Level: Middle School Grades 6-8

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Understand the difference between nonpoint source and point source pollution and what natural and man-made options there are for cleaning our water supply.

Age Level: Middle School Grades 6-8

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Recognize what humans do on land that can affect marine life.

Age Level: Middle School Grades 6-8

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Understand effective water conservation and assess the amount of water that your family members use daily.

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Understand water pollution and how we can make a difference by taking responsibility for what we put down the drain.

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Use the senses to explore and identify the physical characteristics of trees and the benefits/services that trees offer our ecosystem and society.

Age Level: Grades 5-12

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Engage in nature to develop an appreciation for the animals, insects and plants that make up the habitat.

Age Level: Middle School Grades 6-8

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Understand the process of decomposition and be able to create a compost bin.

Age Level: Middle School Grades 6-8

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Toyota

Support for this resource was provided by Toyota. Toyota established operations in the United States in 1957 and is committed to being a good corporate citizen in the communities where it does business. The company believes in programs with long-term sustainable results, and supports numerous organizations across the country, focusing on education, the environment and safety.

Noyce Foundation

Support for this publication was provided by the Noyce Foundation. The Noyce Foundation is dedicated to stimulating ideas and supporting initiatives designed to produce significant improvement in teaching and learning in mathematics, science and literacy for youth in grades K-12