Social Studies

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Fossil Hunting | Outdoor Nevada

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Join host John Burke as he hunts for fossils at Tule Springs, near Las Vegas.

Lewis and Clark Minutes | Learning Expedition

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Hear NDSU Professor Mark Harvey who describes what Lewis and Clark would have experienced when first coming to the grasslands.

The Sled Dogs of the Arctic Circle | Nature

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In this Nature video, we learn how the Inuits of the Arctic Circle rely on their dogs. Existing on a diet of snow and seal blubber (fat), these dogs pull the sleds of the Inuits and protect them from wild animals. Multiple dogs pull together to maintain the stability of the sled. Sled dogs sometimes run the equivalent of five marathons (5 x 26.2 miles = 131 miles) per day. They will be the first to fall through the ice if there is a crack, but they recover from the cold plunge quickly. The dogs have evolved to master the harsh environment.

Witnessing Environmental Changes

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This video segment examines the issue of climate change from the perspective of Native Americans. Elders describe the changes they have observed in their surroundings, especially those related to water, and the effects they are having on their way of life. Dr. Daniel Wildcat explains that because Native people are so deeply connected to the land, non-Native people should consult with Native people about what we are experiencing. The video segment was adapted from a student video produced at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

A Visit to Yellowstone

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Geothermal features, which include geysers, hot springs, steam vents called fumaroles, and boiling mud pots, are found on nearly every continent. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming contains the world's largest collection: nearly 10,000 such features lie within its 2.25 million acres. In this video segment adapted from ZOOM, a young guide offers viewers a tour of the park and explains how Earth's internal heat fuels geothermal formations. The tour makes it clear why millions of people visit Yellowstone each year to witness the park's explosive displays and colorful deposits.

Using a Compass to Find Your Way

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Navigation is the act of accurately locating one's position on land, at sea, or in the air. Orienteering, the recreational sport featured in this video segment from ZOOM, tests one's ability to successfully navigate a course using a compass and a map. Learn more about orienteering's rules, how to use a compass, and how courses are set up by viewing the video.

The Hunting Dogs of Papua New Guinea

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This video from Nature describes the history and uses of the dogs of Papua New Guinea. Men from the Akepangi tribe set out to hunt at dawn. They believe the dogs they take with them have supernatural abilities to track down prey. The dogs are called the singing dogs because they howl but do not bark. In the hunt, the dogs find an opossum in the canopy (upper layer of vegetation). The dogs are more valuable to the hunters than their bows and arrows. The tribe believes the dogs tell them where the evil spirits lie in the jungle.

An Ancient Legend Teaches Climate Change Adaptation

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Today's unsustainable use of natural resources is compared to the legend of the giant Uab. Uab, a boy who grew into a giant as he ate everything around him, became so heavy that the island he lived on began to sink. His appetite caused other problems, including a change in weather patterns and damage to coral reefs. Left with no choice, the islanders eventually killed Uab. This legend mirrors what is happening today globally and in the Pacific Island region: the unsustainable use of land, marine, and freshwater resources is having unwanted effects. In response, Palau is taking steps to help conserve natural resources for future generations.

Lewis and Clark Minutes | Mandan Winter

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Learn how the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1803-04 at Fort Mandan near the earthlodge villages of the Mandan Indians.

Shipping on the Great Lakes: Benefits and Consequences of Exporting Goods

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Learn how Lake Michigan is used for the shipping and exporting of goods. Lake Michigan is 118 miles at its widest point, 301 miles long and is the third largest Great Lake by surface area. Today Lake Michigan continues to be a major shipping route to and from the Midwest for freighters. 

The town of Singapore, founded in the 1830’s, was one of the first establishments on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan. This town started as an entrepreneurial town to rival Chicago or Milwaukee as a lake port. It quickly became known as a busy lumbering and timbering town.

White pine lumber was in great demand all over the Midwest until October of 1871. A couple of days after the Great Chicago Fire, a big forest fire burned the western side of Michigan near Singapore and depleted the timber supply. Singapore went bankrupt because of the weakened timber supply and became a ghost town.

With Singapore becoming a ghost town and no longer a Lake Michigan shipping port, timber and leather had to find a way to be shipped to Chicago and the Midwest. The town of Saugatuck became the nearest port on the Michigan side of Lake Michigan to ship goods across Lake Michigan to Chicago and the Midwest. 

With the decline of the timber industry, due to the forest fire, fruit farming was gaining popularity. Boats were needed to ship fresh fruit and leather across Lake Michigan.

With Lake Michigan becoming a major shipping route, this led to a decline in the fishing industry. 

The opening of the Welland Canal connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, via the St. Lawrence Seaway, had positive and negative effects on the ecosystems of Lake Michigan. 

Virtual Field Trip Video: Coastal Peru | Nature Works Everywhere

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Join fisheries scientist Matias Caillaux from The Nature Conservancy to explore the Humboldt Current Ecosystem off the coast of Peru while learning about the area’s amazing diversity and productivity. While Peru is most frequently recognized for its rainforests, mountains, and ancient Inca civilizations, it is also home to one of the most productive ocean ecosystems. 

Find a teacher's guide here to accompany this field trip.

Social and Historical Perspectives of Dogs

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In this video segment from Nature, learn about the evolution of dogs. More than 750 million people share their lives with dogs today. This video explores theories of how dogs became a domestic pet. One theory is ancient people tamed wild wolves. This theory is challenged by the idea that wolves evolved themselves into a different species. Biologist Raymond Coppinger believes human garbage heaps may have caused wolves to be drawn to feed on them. Competition among the wolves may have caused them to transform into "dogs,” that were not frightened of humans who came to the dumps.

Galileo: Sun-Centered System

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Before the 17th century, people generally believed that Earth was at the center of the universe. Galileo, however, was not afraid to challenge existing beliefs when he published his work in support of the Sun-centered, or heliocentric, Copernican theory. In this video segment adapted from NOVA, learn about the two opposing worldviews and the strong piece of evidence Galileo offered to support the heliocentric theory.

Managing Salmon to Support Healthy Forests: Video | Nature Works Everywhere

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This video addresses the impact of unsustainable fishing practices and how salmon fishing risks harming much more than just aquatic ecosystems. Salmon runs are an important factor in cycling many nutrients from the ocean to the forest and beyond. Over-fishing salmon can reduce the forest's capacity for growth and regeneration. 

Find a lesson plan here to accompany this video. 

Museum of the Earth

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Created in 2003 by the Paleontological Research Institute, Museum of the Earth takes its guests on a tour through history spanning four billion years. The museum contains multiple exhibits including a reconstructed whale skeleton and interactive discovery labs to provide fun for all visitors while learning about the history of life on Earth.

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