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What's Up in the Environment?
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Class Projects   Global Warming


For years, scientists and environmentalists warned that unchecked emissions of "greenhouse" gases, such as carbon dioxide, threaten to change Earth's climate. If current trends continue, many scientists predict that the average temperature will rise by 2 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 100 years.

In this project, students will conduct research on global warming to gain background knowledge about the issue. Then they'll focus on what can be done locally to help the situation by calculating energy usage within their homes and schools and then using that information to come up with their own energy reduction plan. This is a great way for students to learn that they can do something positive about global warming!

This project incorporates elements of the scientific method.

Grade level
Middle school, but can be adapted to suit other grades

Time allotment
Up to 1 semester

Subject matter
Main focus on environmental science, with language arts and social studies connections

Learning objectives
Students will:
  • Gain an understanding of the scientific method and use elements of it to conduct phases of the project.

  • Learn how human-produced emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases contribute to global warming.

  • Investigate the possible future effects of global warming on our ecosystem.

  • Analyze and find ways to reduce daily energy usage in their community and calculate the reduction in carbon emissions.

  • Plan, publicize, and execute an energy reduction campaign to help absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

  • Work cooperatively using technology.
  • North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
    Excellence in Environmental Education: Guidelines for Learning
    Strand 1-Questioning and Analysis Skills (Guidelines A, C, D, E, G); Strand 2.1-The Earth as a Physical System (A, B, C); Strand 2.2-The Living Environment (A, C, D); Strand 2.3-Humans and Their Societies (A, C, D, E); Strand 2.4-Environment and Society (A, C, D, E); Strand 3.1-Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues (A, B, C); Strand 3.2-Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills (A, B, C, D); Strand 4-Personal and Civic Responsibility (B, C, D).

  • Technology Foundation Standards for Students
    Standard 1: Basic operations and concepts; Standard 2: Social, ethical, and human issues; Standard 3: Technology productivity tools; Standard 4: Technology communications tools; Standard 5: Technology research tools.


Using what they've learned about global warming, energy consumption in their community, and environmental awareness campaigning, students will gather all the materials created over the course of the project and turn them into a Web site, scrapbook, or series of illustrated articles to share with others and publish on the WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT Web site. This project narrative will also include reflections on what it felt like to particpate and lessons learned.

Computer resources
  • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above
  • Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM
  • IBM-compatible computer: (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
  • RealPlayer plug-in. Download for free at
Materials needed
  • WHAT'S UP IN THE ENVIRONMENT video (optional)
  • For the flow charts - either PowerPoint or paper and pencil
  • For the survey - one computer with access to the Internet or MS Word and a copier to type up and distribute the surveys
  • For the Consumer Products chart - Excel or chart paper; access to the Internet or consumer products circulars
  • For your wetland - depending on the type of wetland you choose to build (see relevant Web sites for details), some combination of the following: plants with roots or plant seeds native to your area, spades or shovels, plastic lining, large stones and bricks, pieces of carpet or rags, hay or straw, gravel, sand, peat
Online resources

Teacher tool Web sites

Bookmark these Web sites for student research

Global warming research sites

Consumer goods Web sites

Advice on creating community campaigns

  • National Wildlife Federation: Take Action
    This site gives great advice on how to write to local media, write press releases, plan campaigns, and more.

  • Ask a Department of Energy Expert
    This site allows you to ask a question of a DOE expert. Students may want to use this to get information about resources they can pass on to the public. It does ask for personal information, so teachers may want to type in the questions themselves.

  • American Forestry Association: Global ReLeaf Information
    This page gives an overview of the tree planting campaign run by the government.

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