ASTRONOMY

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Hubblesite  
Multiple resources 
Discover, see and explore the universe through images, videos, articles, interactive ebooks and resources. 

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ASPIRE Star Life Cycle  
Interactive  
Stars are very dynamic objects—they grow old and die, while new stars are being formed all throughout the universe. Learn where stars come from, how they form, what keeps them going and what happens to them after they die. The lesson is divided up into five sections: Studying Stars; Protostars; Main Sequence; Old Stars; Stellar Remnants; and additional information. 

Galaxy Zoo   
Interactive
The Zooniverse is the world’s largest platform for people-powered research — more than a million people around the world who come together to assist professional researchers. People don’t need any specialized background, training, or expertise to participate in any Zooniverse projects just their own computer. 

Jewels of the Night   
Lesson plan 
The Jewels of the Night is a hands-on activity. Students measure the color and brightness of stars in the Jewelbox Cluster from a color image. They determine the age of the cluster by plotting their measurements in a color-brightness diagram. The activity develops classification and graphing skills and fosters observation, communication, and cooperative learning skills. Students are exposed to ideas about the nature of stars, temperature and color, stellar evolution, the time scales of astronomical phenomena, and how astronomers can determine the ages of objects in the universe. 

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The Elements: Forged in Stars 
Video, background reading and discussion questions 
Fusion, which occurs when atomic nuclei combine to form new elements, is extremely powerful. All the stars in the universe, including the Sun, are nuclear furnaces fueled by fusion. Through fusion, stars are responsible for forming all the naturally occurring elements heavier than hydrogen and helium -- before stellar nucleosynthesis, only the lightest elements existed in the universe. This video segment adapted from NOVA illustrates the critical role that stars play in creating the elements. 

We are Star Stuff 
Video and teaching tips 
Stars are our stellar alchemists. They spend their entire lifespan creating and molding elements. In their final moments, a supernova spreads these elements out into the universe, providing the building blocks for new stars, planets, and even us! 

High Mass Stars 
Video 
Massive stars fuse heavier elements in their cores than lower mass stars. This leads to the creation of heavier elements up to iron. Iron robs critical energy from the core, causing it to collapse. The resulting supernova creates even more heavy elements, scattering them through space. 

How to Make an Element 
Reading material 
Forging heavier elements from lighter ones used to be the sole domain of stars and supernova. But not anymore. Find out more in this article from NOVA Online. 

An Elemental Question 
Video 
You and all of the things around you are made up of atoms.  Elements are specific kinds of atoms defined by their number of protons.  All of the elements that make up our stuff, our bodies, and our environment came from outer space.  But how are elements made in outer space, and how did they get here?  What is going on? 

Life cycle of Stars 
Images and reading material 
When a massive star has no more elements left to fuse it explodes as a supernova, from which the chemical elements heavier than lithium form. 

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Making Waves with the Electromagnetic Spectrum 
Lesson plan 
Explore various types of electromagnetic waves using videos and interactive online tools to understand the electromagnetic spectrum. 

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Tour of the Universe 
Video, background reading, teaching tips and discussion questions 
Take a journey through the observable universe and back in time in this video by the California Academy of Sciences. Use this resource to stimulate thinking about the immense scale of the universe and Earth’s place in it and to visualize how the light from distant objects represents objects and events from the past, allowing us to peer into the ancient universe. 

Ned Wright: ‘WISE Space Telescope Will Make an Atlas of the Universe’- Full 
Video 
This Utah Education Network podcast features astronomer Dr. Edward Wright, who discussed how the WISE space telescope (launched in 2010) would scan the sky with infrared light in order to create an atlas of the universe. 

Ned Wright: ‘WISE Space Telescope Will Make an Atlas of the Universe’ 
Video 
This Utah Education Network podcast features astronomer Dr. Edward Wright, who discussed how the WISE space telescope (launched in 2010) would scan the sky with infrared light in order to create an atlas of the universe. 

Above the Clouds: Telescopes on Mauna Kea 
Video, background reading and discussion questions 
Astronomical research is dependent on technology that allows astronomers to see the universe. Telescopes act as giant eyes, capturing the light from celestial objects and processing it for astronomers to study. Generally, a space-based telescope will offer the clearest views of the universe. However, astronomers have found an ideal site for ground-based telescopes. In this video segment adapted from First Light, learn about recent telescope technologies and one of the best ground locations—Mauna Kea. 

Astronomical Images in Different Wavelengths 
Interactive, background reading and discussion questions 
Telescopes are engineered to detect a specific range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation. In this resource, images from a variety of these telescopes show different aspects of the same astronomical objects. To trained eyes, each of the images contributes details that provide a more comprehensive understanding of the observed object than is possible from a single image. Radio images highlight the presence of cooler gas clouds (especially hydrogen), infrared images show areas of low-energy heat, visible light images depict primarily gases and dust, and X-ray images reveal high-energy heat emissions. 

How Does the Kepler Telescope Work? 
Video, background reading, teaching tips, and discussion questions 
Learn about NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which uses the transit method to search for exoplanets, in this video from NOVA: Alien Planets Revealed. Use this resource to visualize how measuring the dimming of light coming from a star provides evidence for orbiting planets and to exemplify the role technology plays in advancing science. 

Solar Space Telescopes 
Video 
In this video from NOVA’s Sun Lab, explore how scientific understanding of the Sun and space weather has improved with data from three solar space telescopes: SOHO, STEREO, and SDO. Solar telescopes capture detailed images and information that scientists use to study both the interior and atmosphere of the Sun. For the first time, scientists can view the entire sun. Solar space telescopes are allowing scientists to develop a better understanding of space weather and how to forecast it. 

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What’s Your Favorite Planet?  
Audio and transcript 
Introduction activity. Eleven astronomers and planetary scientists make a "30-second pitch" for their favorite planet. 

Solar System Scope  
Interactive  
Solar System Scope is a model of the solar system, night sky and outer space in real time, with accurate positions of objects and lots of interesting facts. 

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Exploring the Moon Educator Guide  
Lesson plans 
The activities in this guide promote problem solving, communication skills and teamwork. Earth and space science subjects include lunar geology and regolith, distance to the moon, Apollo landing sites and life support systems. 

Solar System Scope
Interactive  
Solar System Scope is a model of solar system, night sky and outer space in real time, with accurate positions of objects and lots of interesting facts. 

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Solar System Scope  
Interactive  
Solar System Scope is a model of solar system, night sky and outer space in real time, with accurate positions of objects and lots of interesting facts. 

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Origins of the Solar System 
Video and transcript 
Combining chemical evidence from meteorites with the latest computer simulations, scientists show how a supernova shock wave could have swept through a cloud of dust and gas and caused it to collapse, eventually forming our sun and the planets. 

Solar System Scope  
Interactive  
Solar System Scope is a model of the solar system, night sky and outer space in real time, with accurate positions of objects and lots of interesting facts.


EARTH’S GEOSPHERE 

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The Magma Factory 
Interactive, videos, images and lesson plans 
Analyze and interpret data to construct explanations for processes that form volcanoes at convergent tectonic plate boundaries. Analyze and interpret data to construct explanations for the role of water in processes that form volcanoes at convergent tectonic plate boundaries.  

Determining and Measuring Earth’s Layered Interior  
Interactive  
In this instructional sequence, students examine seismic evidence to determine that the Earth must have a layered internal structure and to estimate the size of Earth's core. 

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Radioactive Dating Game  
Interactive simulation 
Learn about different types of radiometric dating, such as carbon dating. Understand how decay and half-life work to enable radiometric dating. Play a game that tests your ability to match the percentage of the dating element that remains to the age of the object. 

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Breaking it Down—Weathering and Erosion 
Interactive, video and lesson plan 
This lesson discusses the processes of weathering and erosion and how they work together to shape the earth’s landscape. An online game introduces students to the basic modes of erosion. The processes of chemical and physical weathering that enable erosion are then explored in detail using online media and hands-on laboratory experiments. Next, video segments from the Nature episode “Violent Hawaii” are used to revisit in greater detail the causes and effects of erosion in the real world, and human attempts to limit it. The lesson culminates with an online game that reinforces students’ understanding of the lesson’s vocabulary and concepts. 

Nature: Water Erosion
Video, transcript, background reading and discussion questions
Learn about the erosive action of water on the Hawaiian landscape and human efforts to limit it, in this video from Nature.

Karst Topography and Mammoth Cave
Video, background reading and discussion questions
In this video from KET, take a trip into the depths of Mammoth Cave and ride an airplane to view sinkholes in the land above the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky. Watch as an animation shows how both caverns and sinkholes are created by water seeping through and dissolving limestone. Discover that much of Earth's land surface is karst, similar to that in the Mammoth Cave region, and thus shares the water quality issues prevalent there.

Making North America: Uncovering Layers of the Grand Canyon
Video, activity, background reading, teaching tips and discussion questions
Follow along with host Kirk Johnson as he explores the layers of rock that make up the Grand Canyon, in this video from NOVA: Making North America: Origins. Many geologists think that the Grand Canyon is the best place in the world. Its exposed rock layers allow them to see hundreds of millions of years back in time, revealing a story about what the surface was like as each rock layer formed. By analyzing the rock, mineral, and fossil contents of the layers, scientists know that what is today the North American continent was covered by desert sands, shallow seas, and more in its distant past.

What is Bedrock? | Iowa Land and Sky
Video, background reading and discussion questions
Bedrock is the hard compacted material that underlies everywhere, and you can think of it as the uppermost crust of the earth. There are places in Iowa where the bedrock is right at the surface. There are other places in Iowa where glaciers have left behind soft sediments like soil, sand and gravel. Some places have over 600 feet of that glacial sediment.

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What Are Our Energy Choices? 
Interactive 
Explore advantages and disadvantages of generating electricity from different energy sources. Run experiments with computational models to investigate how gas is extracted from shale formations through hydraulic fracturing. Evaluate energy resources and compare the costs and benefits of different sources used for generating electricity. There is a total of five online activities in the module. 

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Three Levels of Biodiversity
Interactive, background reading and discussion questions
What's the difference between diversity in genes and species? Why are some species better than others at adapting to environmental changes? Learn more about specific levels of biodiversity, and see examples of plant and animal species and why they are important to each level.

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Biomes
Interactive, background reading and discussion questions
The distribution of plants and animals around the world is anything but random. Instead, it is a result of the interplay of individual environmental tolerances of species and the environmental conditions, especially variations in temperature and precipitation. These interactions result in biomes, the categories into which ecologists organize similar communities of plants, animals, and the environmental conditions in which they live. This interactive resource adapted from NASA features some of the physical and biological characteristics of seven of the world's biomes.

NOVA Polar Lab
Interactive and facilitator guide
The interactive NOVA Polar Lab uses 360° videos, interviews with scientists, and mini-games to send students on an immersive quest to understand how the poles are key to understanding Earth’s climate—past, present, and future.

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EARTH’S PALEOBIOSPHERE 

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AIR: The Search for One Clean Breath  
Video 
How has air evolved and what does it mean for our human experience? With state-of-the-art animation, an inspired soundtrack, and stunning visuals filmed in high definition, the film gives new insight into this precious natural resource.   

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Becoming a Fossil
Video, background reading and discussion questions
The remains of the vast majority of organisms that die are eaten by scavengers or decompose beyond recognition before they can be preserved. The conditions under which fossils can successfully form are unusual, and the odds that a fossil will then be exposed at the surface again, and discovered, are smaller still.

The Fossil Evidence for Evolution
Videos, documents, handouts, discussion questions, and lesson plans
Students learn about the fossil record, one form of evidence for evolution. The next three lessons help students understand how scientists find evidence of evolution and piece together the history of life. In this lesson, students learn about the fossil record, the primary form of evidence. The lesson begins with an overview of the fossil formation process, then covers the evolution of land-dwelling animals from fish, and finally looks at how some mammals (whales) ended up back in the water.

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The Fate of Carbon
Interactive lesson and teaching tips
Introductory lesson. Students examine the importance of carbon and learn about two Earth systems, the solubility pump and the biological pump, which cycle carbon from the atmosphere into the oceans and back again. In this interactive lesson, students watch short descriptive videos about this topic. They read and highlight video transcripts and complete short writing assignments that reflect what they've learned. As a final assignment, students recreate the steps involved in both pumps and then write a clear, descriptive paragraph or two describing one of the pumps. 


EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE – WEATHER AND CLIMATE 

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Global Weather Machine
Document, images, background reading and discussion questions
In this media-enhanced essay from NOVA, you can learn about the atmospheric conditions that drive weather on Earth. A complex interplay of heat, air, and water generates wind and related manifestations that ensure that no two days will ever have the same weather.

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What Is the Future of Earth’s Climate? 
Interactive 
Examine graphs of greenhouse gas concentration and temperature change; run experiments with computational models to compare the effect of different levels of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and explain how scientists can be certain the Earth’s climate is changing. There are five online activities in the module. 

Ocean Temperatures and Climate Patterns
Video, background reading and discussion questions
Interactions between Earth's atmosphere and oceans drive weather and climate patterns. Although these interactions and patterns are complex, they are also predictable. This animation from The New Media Studio explains precipitation patterns by illustrating how differences in ocean surface temperatures create wind, and how wind patterns can in turn affect ocean surface temperatures.

Earth System: El Nino's Influence on Hurricane Formation
Video, background reading and discussion questions
Warm water fuels the tropical storms that ultimately form hurricanes. In this video segment adapted from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, learn how El Niño events—climatic anomalies that occur periodically in the Pacific Ocean—alter the course of atmospheric circulation and lessen hurricane formation in the Atlantic Ocean.

20-Year Map of Global Rainfall
Video, background reading and discussion questions
The distribution of rainfall on Earth follows clear patterns that can be traced to factors that influence cloud formation, such as the amount of solar heating, surface temperatures, topography, and proximity to moisture. In this visualization from NASA, observe the monthly distribution of global rainfall from January 1979 to January 2001, as illustrated by data gathered with a combination of remote-sensing and ground-based methods.

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Rotations in Space 
Interactive 
Interactive activity with supplemental readings demonstrates how different objects rotate in space and addresses what causes rotation and why objects in space rotate. 

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What Is the Future of Earth’s Climate? 
Interactive 
Examine graphs of greenhouse gas concentration and temperature change; run experiments with computational models to compare the effect of different levels of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and explain how scientists can be certain the Earth’s climate is changing. There are five online activities in the module. 

Climate Science Investigations: Temperature Over Time 
Interactive  
Find out how temperature has fluctuated spatially over Earth’s various geographic regions. The temperature data is derived from NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Sciences (GISS).

Sea Level Viewer: NASA Planetary Sciences
Interactive, teaching tips, background reading and discussion questions
Learn how climate scientists use space-based observations of sea level in this interactive activity from NASA. Observations of sea level can be used to predict weather events, improve tsunami computer models and early warning systems, and study climate change. An interactive visualization tool shows a global map of sea levels, and videos explain more about specific events, including a large El Nino (November 1997), Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), the Indian Ocean tsunami (December 2004), and a La Nina (February 1999). In addition, there are descriptions of three missions: TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason 1, and Jason 2. This resource is part of the NASA Planetary Sciences Collection.

Sandy and Climate Change
Video, teacher information, teaching tips, background reading and discussion questions
In this video excerpt from NOVA: “Inside the Megastorm,” learn how Earth's warming climate may have contributed to Hurricane Sandy's devastating impact. Hurricane Sandy was an extremely large storm that followed an unusual path, and its impacts were enhanced by climate change. Climate scientists Radley Horton and Adam Sobel explain how warming temperatures in the Arctic may have shaped a blocking pattern in the jet stream (causing the hurricane to turn toward the United States) and how rising sea levels undeniably contributed to the storm's destructiveness.

Carbon Dioxide and the Carbon Cycle
Interactive, background reading and discussion questions
Explore how human activities alter the carbon cycle and cause atmospheric carbon dioxide to increase. Learn about the reservoirs and flows of the carbon cycle and how human activities increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and ocean. This increased atmospheric carbon dioxide causes global warming.

Earth's Energy Flows and Climate
Interactive, teaching tips, background reading and discussion questions
Learn how Earth's climate results from the ways that energy enters, circulates within, and flows out of the Earth system. Explore the flows of energy in regional locations and then at the global level to understand how the increased greenhouse effect causes global warming. 

Impacts of Climate Change in the Pacific Region
Interactive, teaching tips, background reading and discussion questions
Explore four impacts of climate change—sea level rise, higher air and ocean temperatures, changing rain patterns, and ocean acidification— that can cause major damage. Learn how ecosystems and human system services are affected by these four impacts, and explore how climate adaptation strategies can reduce the damage caused by climate change.

Ancient Ice and Future Climate
Interactive and teaching tips
In this interactive produced by WGBH, graphs derived from evidence in ice core samples help to accurately define the relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature over the past 400,000 years. With this understanding, scientists can create better models to predict future climate change. In the interactive, discover how ice cores are collected and analyzed, learn about orbital variation and its effects on climate, and explore other key concepts such as the carbon cycle, the Earth system, and feedback loops, all of which factor into the explanation.

Using Ice Cores to Model Climate Changes
Video, background reading and discussion questions
Learn how scientists extract core samples of ancient ice and use these ice cores to create mathematical models that can help them predict Earth's future climate. By measuring the greenhouse gas contents of tiny air bubbles that were trapped in the ice thousands of years ago, scientists can compare these readings with temperature data and look for connections. A scientist demonstrates the process by which gases are extracted from ancient air and analyzed using a chromatograph. Another scientist describes the different "thermometers" used to determine past temperature.


EARTH’S HYDROSPHERE 

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Will There Be Enough Fresh Water? 
Interactive module and teacher materials 
Explore the distribution and uses of fresh water on Earth. Run experiments to explore water movement and predict water availability.

Water Model 
Interactive 
Use model templates to explore differing permeabilities of different sediment types, drill wells into model landscapes, explore the difference between confined and unconfined aquifers, discover how water moves around gaining and losing streams, and explore the difference between rural and urban area aquifers. Create landscapes to test ideas about water movement and sustainability of wells and use graphs to measure the amount of water from each well and monitor the level of water in streams. There are five online activities within the module. 

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Watersheds and Drainage Basins
Images and reading material
Good introduction to drainage basins.When looking at the location of rivers and the amount of streamflow in rivers, the key concept is the river's "watershed". What is a watershed? Easy, if you are standing on ground right now, just look down. You're standing, and everyone is standing, in a watershed.

What Is a Watershed?
Video, background reading and discussion questions
Runoff from fields, lawns, and pavement could carry potentially harmful materials from our watersheds to our rivers. Even if you live, work, or play far from a river, your actions could have an impact on the quality of the water in the area. These effects could be felt far from the point of origin. This video from KET's Raindrops to Rivers shows how smaller watersheds flow into larger ones.

Human Impact on Water Quality
Hands-on lab activity, videos and multimedia lesson plan
Water is a vital natural resource that all living things depend on to survive, but water quality is being affected by human activity. In this lesson, students explore how humans have impacted the quality of our water resources, and consider ways to avoid further pollution. Students first examine the causes of water pollution, then investigate the quality of their community's water supply. They conclude with an exploration of ways to make water safe for human consumption.

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Farm Solutions to Water Pollution
Video, background reading and discussion questions
Farming has always meant more than cultivating crops and raising animals. In this KET video from Common Ground and Cleaner Water, learn from a third generation farmer what it means to protect the land for future generations by caring about water quality on his farm and on his neighbors' farms down stream. See how building a containment pond helps prevent animal waste from polluting streams and helps fertilize crops.

Big River: A King Corn Companion | Agricultural Runoff and the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone
Video, background reading and discussion questions
Learn how agricultural runoff from the Midwest has contributed to a massive "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, in this video segment adapted from the independent film Big River: A King Corn Companion. A cornfield treated with conventional chemical fertilizer promises a bumper crop, but chemical runoff from the farm enters the Iowa River, eventually draining into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. In the Gulf, these dissolved nutrients allow algae to flourish. The algae's decay depletes the water of oxygen, creating a dead zone where shrimp and fish are starved of oxygen and die.

Big River: A King Corn Companion: Atrazine Affects the Water Supply
Video, background reading and discussion questions
Learn how waterways are polluted by agricultural pesticides such as atrazine, a herbicide commonly used on corn farms, in this video segment featuring live-action animation adapted from the independent film Big River: A King Corn Companion. Also, hear about health concerns related to atrazine exposure from contaminated drinking water.

Urban Solutions to Water Pollution
Video, background reading and discussion questions
In this KET video segment from Louisville Life, learn how a rain garden in an urban community helps prevent storm water runoff from contaminating an urban watershed. Students describe how building a rain garden helps improve their community, prevents storm water runoff, and provides a personal sense of accomplishment and pride.

Lesson 1: Watersheds and Nonpoint Source Pollution Basics- LGREI
Video, background reading, facilitator guide, discussion questions and handouts
The first video in the Groundswell Communities for Clean Water series introduces the concept of a watershed and sources of nonpoint source pollution.
Students are introduced to scientific models that help them to conceptualize watersheds and their importance for managing nonpoint sources of pollution. Students answer these essential questions: 1. What is a watershed? 2. What is the relationship of the water cycle to watersheds? 3. How does my watershed connect to the Grand River and Lake Michigan? 4. What is nonpoint source pollution? 5. How can actions upstream affect water quality downstream?

Lesson 2: Watersheds and Nonpoint Source Pollution l Managing Excess Sediment- LGREI
Video, background reading, facilitator guide, discussion questions and handouts
The second video in the Groundswell Communities for Clean Water series discusses sediment pollution and its impacts on water quality. This lesson focuses on the importance of excess sediment as a major type of nonpoint source pollution affecting the Lower Grand River Watershed. Students explore excess sediment as illustrated by the 2013 Grand River flood event. They create a concept map about the effects of excess sediment in streams and rivers. After observing the characteristics of sediment and soils, students create a physical model of a stream noting how sediment moves. They research the sediment patterns in the Lower Grand River Watershed and explore how to reduce excess sediment loads. Outdoor explorations include looking for erosion in their schoolyard and stream monitoring.

Lesson 3: Watersheds and Nonpoint Source Pollution l Managing Pathogens- LGREI
Video, background reading, facilitator guide, discussion questions and handouts
The third video in the Groundswell Communities for Clean Water series discusses pathogen pollution and its impacts on water quality. This lesson explores pathogens, a major type of nonpoint source pollution affecting the Lower Grand River Watershed.  Fecal coliform and Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) bacteria data from sampling sites in the Lower Grand River Watershed are analyzed, and a task force is simulated to address pathogen issues.

Lesson 4: Watersheds and Nonpoint Source Pollution l Managing Excess Nutrients- LGREI
Video, background reading, facilitator guide and handouts
This lesson explores nutrients - a major type of nonpoint source pollution affecting the Lower Grand River Watershed.  In this lesson you will explore the types and sources of nutrients, visualize the effects of nutrients on plant growth, and simulate a task force to address nutrient issues.

Chicken Waste and Water Pollution
Video, background reading and discussion questions
This video segment adapted from FRONTLINE: “Poisoned Waters” describes the problem of water pollution from chicken waste. On the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore, large-scale chicken farms dominate the landscape. These factory farms produce a bountiful supply of cheap chicken, but also an excess of chicken manure. Runoff from these farms, which is largely unregulated, flows into rivers that pollute the bay. While chicken farmers and chicken companies debate who should be responsible for the waste, the industry has successfully resisted pollution control regulations, arguing that voluntary practices are better.

Catching the Rain
Video and further information
This NC Science Now segment documents how environmental engineers in North Carolina are working to keep polluted water from running directly into streams. In particular, they are installing rain gardens in residential neighborhoods so that polluted water will be able to filter through the earth, rather than running off and setting a direct course for the ocean.

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Rocky Coasts
Interactive, background reading and discussion questions
Tides, currents, shelf slope, and geologic history all influence how coastline features are broken down or built up. More than any other factors, wave energy and coastal rock type influence the erosion processes that shape rocky coastlines. In this interactive resource adapted from the National Park Service, learn about sea stacks, fjords, and other features that characterize rocky coasts in some of America's national parks.

Sandy Coasts
Interactive, background reading and discussion questions
This interactive resource adapted from the National Park Service profiles sandy coast environments and describes various features of sandy beach environments. Waves play a major role in breaking down and building up coastline features. But other factors, including tides, currents, and sediment type, also determine how erosional and depositional processes shape coastlines.

Coastal Geological Materials
Interactive, background reading and discussion questions
Ocean basins are filled with loose sediments — the products of erosion. Most marine sediment originates inland and is fed into oceans by rivers. Debris from cliffs and other coastal landforms provides additional sediment volume, as do skeletons, shells, teeth of marine organisms, ash from volcanoes, and even asteroids. In this interactive resource adapted from the National Park Service, learn how these different parent materials influence the color and size of the materials that compose a beach, as well as other reasons why some beaches are composed entirely of fine sand, while others are a mix of pebbles and shells.

Coastal Geological Processes
Interactive, background reading and discussion questions
Coastlines are places of continuous, often dramatic geological activity. Shaped by the actions of waves, tides, currents, and other forces, coastlines change daily and seasonally, but especially over long time periods. In this interactive resource from the National Park Service, learn about the forces that help shape coastal landforms like cliffs and beaches.

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