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Integrating IT Into Each Subject Area

Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies is a multidisciplinary field of study of local, national, and global importance. "Computational" Environmental Studies (use of computer models, simulations, etc.) is now a fundamental component of the field.

In formal education, students engaged in environmental studies often do Problem-Based Learning or Project-Based Learning. They study the "real world" environmental problems of their community, state, nation, and world. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are one of the standard tool in Environmental Studies.

Some Environmental Studies references are given below. Other useful information is found in the Science page of this OTEC Website. Environmental Studies lesson plans can be found at many of the sites listed in the Lesson Plans page of this OTEC Website.

Global warming is a very important environmental issue. The following quotation comes from (accessed 12/3/03: http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/03/pr03129.htm). It was selected to emphasize the role of computational modeling in environmental studies.

"Many important climate research accomplishments over the past several decades have led to major improvements in understanding and predicting our climate," said Jay Fein, director of NSF's climate dynamics program. "Karl and Trenberth summarize those accomplishments in terms of what we have learned about our climate and the many factors that force it. As they point out, however, there still remain important uncertainties, both in terms of climate forcing and climate response. Addressing the uncertainties will require continuing research and model development, underpinned by high-quality, long-term global environmental observations and social and economic data."

Karl and Trenberth estimate that, between 1990 and 2100, global temperatures will rise by 1.7°C to 4.9°C (3.1°F-8.9°F). The increase would have widespread impacts on society and the environment, including melting the great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica and inundating the world's coasts. The authors base their estimate on computer model experiments by a number of climate scientists, observations of atmospheric changes and recorded climate changes over the past century. [Boldface added for emphasis.]


Air Pollution: A Local and Global Problem [Online]. Accessed 11/27/01: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/linc/

This is an extensive project done by a student during 1996-96 in the Fermilab LInC program.

Air Quality Lesson Plans and Data from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission [Online]. Accessed 11/20/01: http://www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/air/monops/l
essons/lesson_plans.html. Quoting from the Website:

The information contained on these pages is designed to provide educators who teach kindergarten through 12th grade with the background, activities and resources to teach the subject of air quality in the classroom.

The information is presented in three levels: lesson plans, information and activities, and data files.

All Species Foundation of San Francisco [Online]. Accessed 11/3/01: http://www.earthtimes.org/nov/technology
theallspeciesnov1_01.htm. Quoting from the Website:

Against the backdrop of our high-tech space explorations and the sophistication of our communication technologies the fact that we know only a tiny fraction of the species that inhabit our planet seems implausible. And yet, it is a fact. While 1.97 million species have been identified throughout the centuries between 10 and 100 million species remain unknown.

A year ago, 40 scientists and professionals from around the world met at the California Academy of Sciences to do something about this gap in our knowledge. They established the All Species Foundation, a new organization based in San Francisco that will attempt to catalog every living species on earth within one generation (25 years).

Climate Change Affecting Even Remote Arctic Environment (NSF News [Online]. Accessed 6/12/01: http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/
news/press/01/pr0149.htm. Quoting from the Website:

The remoteness of one of the world's largest ecosystems has not made it immune from global environmental problems, according to a major new report on the state of Arctic biodiversity, funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"Arctic Flora and Fauna: Status and Conservation" was released today in Finland by the Arctic Council's working group for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF). The report includes contributions from more than 150 specialists and experts throughout the Arctic.

Controlled Ecological Mouse Support System Project Report [Online]. Accessed 6/5/01: http://chapters.MarsSociety.org/or/cemss/.

Gus Frederick <gus@open.k12.or.us> indicated in an email message dated 30 May 2001:
In partnership with the Mars Society, Oregon chapter, I am putting together an Advanced Life Support System test bed. A "Mini-Biosphere" which I have dubbed "Controlled Ecological Mouse Support System," (CEMSS). In a nut shell, this is a sealed active solar greenhouse with hydroponics unit and mouse habitat.

Cornell Theory Center Math and Science Gateway. Accessed 11/24/02: http://www.tc.cornell.edu/Edu/MathSciGateway/. Quoting from the Website:

Welcome to the Math and Science Gateway! This Gateway provides links to resources in mathematics and science for educators and students in grades 9-12, although teachers of other levels may find these materials helpful. The Math & Science Gateway has won numerous awards and hopes to increase our success with input from internet community.

EarthWatch Institute [Online]. Accessed 12/2/01: http://www.earthwatch.org/index.html. Quoting from the Website:

The mission of the Earthwatch Institute is to promote sustainable conservation of our natural resources and cultural heritage by creating partnerships between scientists, educators and the general public.

We accomplish this through three primary objectives:

  • Research - Supporting the field work of research scientists worldwide collecting the base line data essential for sustainable management decisions
  • Education - Educating and inspiring the next generation of leaders in education, business and the general public both at home and overseas
  • Conservation - Solving problems by active and ground-breaking collaborations with conservation and preservation partners

Unlike other environmental organizations, Earthwatch Institute puts people in the field where they can assist scientists in their field work. They are part of the action, they learn new skills, and develop a deeper understanding of their role in building a sustainable future. We believe that teaching and promoting scientific literacy is the best way to systematically approach and solve the many complex environmental and social issues facing society today.

We act as a unique catalyst and a liaison between the scientific community, conservation and environmental organizations, policy makers, business, and the general public. We place a strong emphasis on producing sound results and much of our work is accomplished in collaboration with conservation and education NGOs (non-government organizations) and local host country partners. We have a commitment to education offering 300 expedition fellowships to teachers and students every year.

Earthwatch Institute is an international non-profit organization, founded in Boston and now with offices in Oxford, England, Melbourne, Australia and Tokyo, Japan. 50,000 members and supporters are spread across the US, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia and 3,500 of our members volunteer their time and skills to work with 120 research scientists each year on our Earthwatch field research projects in over 50 countries all around the world.

Energy and Recycling: Museum of Solid Waste. Accessed 12/13/03: http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/recycling/index.html. Quoting from the Website:

The goods we use and the materials they are made of require energy to produce. When these goods have reached the end of their lives, it becomes solid waste, also called garbage. There is a history of the milestones in hauling the garbage off and disposing of it in landfills.

Environmental Education Resources from ERIC [Online] Accessed 5/31/01: http://www.ericse.org/eeindex.html.

Contains a large amount information, including 22 detailed lesson plans and many links to resources.

Environmental Protection Agency of the United States [Online]. Accessed 5/31/01: http://www.epa.gov/.

The EPA traces its roots to the first Earth Day, and still earlier. Quoting from the Website:
American environmentalism dawned as a popular movement on a mild spring afternoon in 1970. Wednesday, April 22nd, brought blue skies, light breezes, and temperatures in the 60s to New York City and Washington, D.C. Much of the rest of the country enjoyed similar conditions. On that day, the influence of nature had particular meaning; the nation held a celebration of clean air, land, and water. Encouraged by the retreat of winter, millions participated.

The first Earth Day may have been prompted, in part, by the recent moon landings. When the astronauts turned their cameras homeward, capturing the image of a delicate blue planet, the world looked upon itself with fresh understanding. The context of Earth Day 1970, however, was far from celestial, reflecting the turbulence of the time. Since the mid-1960s, the streets has become a common outlet for political and social discontent. Yet Earth Day, forged in an era of strife and change, had its own personality; marijuana smoke may have hung in wisps over some of the day's festivities, but violence and confrontation were nowhere to be seen.

Falk, Joni, and Drayton , Brian (January 25, 2001). Cultivating a Culture of Inquiry [Online]. Accessed 6/1/01: ttp://www.terc.edu/TEMPLATE/feature/lead.cfm. Quoting from the Website:

Educational reform programs at the national and state levels have mandated changes to promote a deeper understanding of science concepts through an inquiry-based approach to science education. Yet once the mandates have been issued, what does the reform actually look like in the classroom?

Since 1998 we have been conducting a study that explores how middle school science teachers interpret and implement a shift to inquiry-based science. The study, "The Inquiry-based Classroom in Context," examines science programs in six school districts which have been part of the State Systemic Initiative (SSI) in Massachusetts. Our goal was to listen to teachers' voices, watch their practice, and explore the school and district context within which they are enacting their understanding of inquiry. We have found that one strong influence on teachers' enactment of inquiry-based science is the degree of coherence provided by the district's vision of this reform.

Global Warming (EPA Site) [Online]. Accessed 6/7/01: http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/. Quoting from the Website:

The EPA Global Warming Site is provided as a public service by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA's climate change programs and activities are an integral part of the Agency's mission and purpose. With the Global Warming Site, we strive to present accurate information on the very broad issue of climate change and global warming in a way that is accessible and meaningful to all parts of society -- communities, individuals, business, public officials and governments.

The United States has based its climate change policies on the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has provided an authoritative international consensus on the science of climate change. Content presented on the Global Warming Site relies heavily on the IPCC literature, as well &endash; particularly the reports listed below.

Global Warming (EPA Report on Oregon) [Online]. http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/
impacts/stateimp/oregon/. Quoting from the Website:

Over the last century, the average temperature in Corvallis, Oregon, has increased 2.5°F, and precipitation has increased by up to 20% in many parts of the state, except along the leeward side of the Cascades where precipitation has fallen by 20%. These past trends may or may not continue into the future.

Over the next century, climate in Oregon may change even more. For example, based on projections made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and results from the United Kingdom Hadley Centre's climate model (HadCM2), a model that accounts for both greenhouse gases and aerosols, by 2100 temperatures in Oregon could increase by 5°F (with a range of 2-9°F) in winter and summer and 4°F (with a range of 2-7°F) in spring and fall.

Grant Writing Tutorial from EPA, Purdue University [Online]. Accessed 6/4/01: http://www.epa.gov/seahome/grants/src/intro.htm. Quoting from the Website:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes that lack of adequate funding may hamper the establishment of new or threaten existing environmental developing activities, such as solid waste management, in communities or non-profit organizations needing this kind of development. For this reason, EPA developed this program to help those communities and non-profit organizations identify financial assistance opportunities for their environmental-oriented development programs. Also, this program was developed to make it easier for applicants to produce more competitive grant applications.

Hemphill, Rosa. Email dated 5/30/01 and posted here with the permission of the author who can be reached at <hemphill@spiretech.com>.

Our school has been monitoring water quality in two different natural wetlands, and now in a small constructed wetlands. We generally use Chemetrics colorimetric kits for quick field tests (although we have used CBL dissolved oxygen probes in the field and found them more precise, but too time intensive for our monthly measurements). Students now take GPS measurements in the field, do colorimetric testing for dissolved oxygen and take temperature, then take samples for measuring and take pH using Vernier pH probes (on either computer or logger pro), colorimetric ammonia and phosphate. Students enter data in a research journal, but have also developed excel spreadsheets with their data for uploading to an intranet webmap of the wetlands. They also include digital images of their sites.

Journey North: A Global Study of Wildlife Migration [Online]. Accessed 5/30/01: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/. Quoting from this Annenberg/CBS Website:

Over 4,500 schools, representing more than 250,000 students, participated in the Spring, 2000 Journey North Program. These students are from all 50 U.S. States and 7 Canadian Provinces.

The journeys of a dozen migratory species are tracked each spring. Students share their own field observations with classrooms across the Hemisphere. In addition, students are linked with scientists who provide their expertise directly to the classroom. Several migrations are tracked by satellite telemetry, providing live coverage of individual animals as they migrate. As the spring season sweeps across the Hemisphere, students note changes in daylight, temperatures, & all living things as the food chain comes back to life.

Moursund, D.G. IT-Assisted Project-Based Learning [Online]. Accessed 6/1/01: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/PBL/.

IT is a powerful aid to doing studies of the environment. At the school level, environmental studies often involves students doing projects, and quite often students also take field trips. IT is a powerful aid to Project-Based Learning. The Website given in this reference contains the details of a 1.5 day workshop on IT-Assisted PBL. It also contains an annotated bibliography (with web links) for a number of resources to support Project-Based learning and Problem-Based Learning.

National Wildlife Federation [Online]. Accessed 11/15/01: http://www.nwf.org/. Quoting from the Website:

The National Wildlife Federation is the nation's largest member-supported conservation group, uniting individuals, organizations, businesses and government to protect wildlife, wild places, and the environment.

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) [Online]. Accessed 4/13/02: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/. Quoting from the Website:

The United Kingdom's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) provides independent research and training in the environmental sciences. Our mission is to gather and apply knowledge, improve understanding and predict the behaviour of the natural environment and its resources.

We are one of the seven UK Research Councils that fund and manage scientific research and training in the UK. NERC is the research council that does earth system science: we are advancing knowledge of planet Earth as a complex, interacting system. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, earth, terrestrial and aquatic sciences, from the depth of the oceans to the upper atmosphere. Because the environment is global, we work with scientists and other partners around the world. NERC uses a budget of about £220 million a year to fund scientific research in universities and at its own sites. About 2,700 people are employed in NERC research centres and a further 1,800 are funded annually through a variety of research and training awards in university departments and other bodies. We train the next generation of environmental scientists - more than 3,000 postgraduate students have been funded by NERC over the last five years. Half our budget supports research and training in universities, and half is invested in work at our research centres.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS): K-12 Education Initiatives. Accessed 11/24/02: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/od/k-12/k12home.htm. Quotinf grom the Website:

Human health and human disease result from three interactive elements: environmental exposures, individual susceptibility and age. The mission of the NIEHS is to reduce human illness and dysfunction from environmental exposures by understanding each of the these elements and how they interrelate. NIEHS achieves its mission by engaging in multidisciplinary biomedical research programs, prevention and intervention efforts, and communication strategies that encompass training, education, technology transfer and community outreach.

The K-12 environmental health science education programs rely on a partnership of students, teachers, parents, scientists and public and private industry working together for science education reform locally and nationally. If we are to see real improvement in American education, we must possess ingenuity, commitment and accountability. We all have a responsibility for the nurturing and stewardship of our society's children. Sound educational wisdom suggests, "It takes an entire community to educate a child."

Recycle City. Accessed 12/13/03: http://www.epa.gov/recyclecity/. Quoting from the Website:

The Recycle City Web site is a project of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 9 office in San Francisco.

Sack, Joetta L. (1 May 2002). EPA Pushing Improved Air Quality in Schools [Online]. Accessed 5/6/02: http://www.edweek.com/ew/
newstory.cfm?slug=33air.h21. Quoting from the Website:

EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman has made school air quality one of her priorities, and she recently visited several schools to publicize her agency's efforts. The EPA has released a guide for schools that points out common, easy- to-fix problems, and the agency took part in School Building Day on April 19, a symposium at the National Building Museum in Washington that featured innovative school facilities practices. [See: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/]

Such attention could not come at a better time, some experts say.

With rates of asthma and other respiratory problems among children reaching record highs, more facility planners are focusing on air quality as they design and renovate schools. But with the many aging and unmaintained buildings still in use, it's a daunting concern.

"A lot of districts are ignoring the problem," particularly the underfunded urban districts where problems are most likely to arise, said Molly E. Smith, a vice president and architect with BPLW Architects and Engineers Inc., whose Mesa firm remodeled Guerrero Elementary School.

Nationally, about one in 13 students has asthma, and between 8,000 and 26,000 new cases of the potentially fatal condition are diagnosed in children each year.

But other health complaints can be traced to indoor air as well&emdash;from common colds and headaches to nausea and dizziness.

School Indoor Air Quality Assessment and Program Implementation white [Online]. Accessed 5/3/02: http://www.energy.wsu.edu/buildings/IAQ.htm.

This document discusses the results from doing air quality studies in a number of schools. The studies were done using a modest amount of equipment (such as a CO2 meter), and help from an outside expert.

TERC [Online]. Accessed 6/1/01: http://www.terc.edu/.

For many years, TERC has been facilitating national and international projects, many focusing on environmental areas such as acid rain and water pollution.

University of Oregon Environmental Studies Program [Online]. Accessed 5/30/01: http://www.uoregon.edu/~ecostudy/. Quoting from the Website:

Environmental Studies is a field that crosses the boundaries of traditional disciplines, challenging faculty and students to look at the relationship between humans and their environment from a variety of perspectives. The Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon draws upon the strengths of our campus community and our connections to the greater geographic area of the Pacific Northwest. Our students have the opportunity to integrate coursework in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, as well as the professional programs of management, public policy, design, and law.

The program offers undergraduate and graduate training leading to a B.A./B.S. in Environmental Studies or Environmental Science; an M.A./M.S. in Environmental Studies; or a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Studies, and Policy (ESSP).

Whale Watcher: An Expert System Demo [Online]. Accessed 10/26/01: http://www.aiinc.ca/demos/whale.html.

Many people enjoy watching the migrating whales as they go north and south along the Oregon coast. This Website provides an Expert System (as example of use of Artificial Intelligence) to help people identify whales.

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