Not only can we enjoy our planet as restrictions are eased, but this World Environment Day (Friday 5th June) we also get to enjoy a healthier, cleaner planet.
As our activities came to a standstill during the crisis, our earth breathed a sigh of relief. The first sight of blue skies came to smog covered cities. NASA satellites recorded a decrease in carbon emissions by 10 – 30% globally. But sure enough, our emission output is starting to return.
COVID-19 provides us with a chance to take stock of the risks we are taking in our unsustainable relationship with our environment and seize the opportunity to rebuild our economies in more environmentally responsible ways.
From Greta Thunberg’s powerful speech that articulated the plight of the planet better than most politicians to student strikes and activism that took over the world, we know how passionate students are about the environment.
As educators, there’s never been a better opportunity to capture this passion and transform it into a teachable moment.
The story behind World Environment Day:
Each year explores a different theme that impacts the environment. The UN created World Environment Day to build awareness about the environment and generate positive change across the globe.
Every year world leaders meet for the United Nations Conference on sustainable development. Here, world leaders, scientists and environmental thought leaders come together to establish themes and goals and reflect on achievements related to the environment and its sustainable development.
The theme this year is biodiversity.
Every year, the United Nations Environment Program selects a theme that significantly impacts the wellbeing of the environment. Last year the theme was Air Pollution. The themes developed by the UN are created to connect people around the world to issues that affect us and the sustainability of our planet.
The theme this year is Biodiversity: Biodiversity is about the interconnectedness of humans and their environment. If there is one thing recent events from across have shown us, it is the deep interconnection between ourselves and the environment.
Let’s get learning! Resources to use in the classroom:
Do the UN’s biodiversity quiz to see how much you know
Build student knowledge about World Environment Day with the UN World Environment Day Fact Sheet
Discover our World Environment Day Collection specifically curated to support you in the classroom.
Other collections to support you and your students this World Environment Day:
Turn your school and community into waste-wise wonderlands. Share and watch this collection that features the five Rs, a solar-powered drip irrigation system, recycling robots and much more.
Bushfires and Climate Change
From floods to bushfires, the planet has moved from crisis to crisis. Learn the science behind bushfires and meet the firefighters who took them on.
Activities and lesson ideas for each subject:
- DIY terrarium: help your students to understand how biodiversity works by getting them to create their very own ecosystem.
- Make your own plant fertiliser: Follow this clip for three recipes using molasses, epsom salts, eggshells and coffee grounds!
- Students form small groups and create a video to build awareness in your school community around biodiversity. Possible premise: We’ve learnt in 2020 that the world is a very small place. If you could share a story of how you feel about our environment and what we can do to preserve it, what would it be? Send your film to us at firstname.lastname@example.org we’d love to see it!
- Design a new product: Make something new out of discarded objects
- Ephemeral art: Research the art of Andy Goldsworthy then create an animal or scene using natural materials, photograph or video your art then let it decay naturally.
- Before and after: Find images on the Internet of famous places before and after the pandemic, eg; streets of Paris busy then deserted, skies in Delhi polluted then clear etc. Make a digital collage of these images or paint your own versions of these famous landmarks.
- Get students to write a persuasive text or speech on why we need to take care of our planet.
- See, think, wonder: Show an image of an environment under threat and get students to write about it using the sentence prompts ‘I see”, ‘I think’, and ‘I wonder’.
- News report: Imagine it’s ten years in the future and great changes have been made to save the environment, video a ‘news report’ of how society changed its behaviour to help the environment (eg; switched to renewable energy, planted more plants, invented compostable plastic, banned travel by cars etc).
- Nature film animation: Make an endangered species out of plasticine and make a mini habitat for it, using software such as i-movie, film an animation of it moving around its habitat and record commentary describing the animal.
- Gather the data! How can statistics support the plight of the planet?
- Patterns in nature: Draw patterns that are inspired by nature, e.g. tessellating shapes in a beehive, symmetry in a snowflake.
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