In light of the horrific environmental damage that will surely impact the Gulf Coast due to the BP oil spill, I thought I would share some thoughts on using this disaster in the classroom. Unfortunately I think we will still be hashing out the impact of BP’s spill during August and beyond.
The opportunity that teachers have in this disaster is to provide a background and some understanding of humans’ impact on the environment in which we live. This would fall right in line with the aptitude of Meaning that Dan Pink discusses in A Whole New Mind.
To start with, I would address a bit if history. We could begin with Teddy Roosevelt’s preservation efforts during the Progressive Era of U.S. history. President Roosevelt was a vivid outdoorsman, and he had a personal passion for preserving our nation’s natural resources for future generations. The Theodore Roosevelt Association has an excellent lesson plan on their site that provides a background into Roosevelt’s legacy of conservation.
You could start this lesson by having students locate the Breton National Wildlife Refuge on a map. Be sure to mention that this preserve is over 100 years old. It was the second nature preserve created by Roosevelt and was the only reserve personally visited by the president. Then you could dive into the Theodore Roosevelt Association’s in-depth lesson plan to provide students with a more detailed understanding of Roosevelt’s overall conservation efforts.
Once your students have a good background on Roosevelt’s conservation movement, you can pull out NOAA’s interactive map that outlines the current environmental damage and areas of concern due to the BP oil spill. Mr. Roosevelt’s second nature preserve is clearly within harm’s way. Students could then discuss or write journal entries about President Roosevelt’s dream of preserving our nation’s natural resources for future generations. Did he succeed? What have we lost due to the spill? Are we doing our part to preserve our nation’s national resources for future generations?
This is only one angle, and I know that there are many others. I would like to share more ideas with you in the coming weeks, and I would like to ask you to do the same. Do you plan on addressing the BP oil spill in your classroom? How do you plan on doing it? Please leave your thoughts and comments. We’re all in this together!Share