Social Studies

Science (X) - Social Studies (X) - Geography (X)

Tectonic Plate Movement in Alaska

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Learn how mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes result from plate tectonics, in this video adapted from KUAC-TV and the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Animations illustrate how the subduction of the Pacific plate under the North American plate and the collision of the Yakutat block builds mountains, such as the Wrangell and St. Elias Mountains. In addition, observe how technology (such as seismometers, satellites, and the Internet) helps scientists study the movement of Earth's crust, and learn about the surprising finding that there are still aftershocks being measured decades after the 1964 earthquake.

This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

The Effect of Land Masses on Climate

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This ThinkTV segment demonstrates the complex relationships between the land and Earth's climate system. It emphasizes five land factors that influence climate: latitude, elevation, topography, surface reflectivity, and land use.

How Do Avalanches Form?

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There are two basic elements to an avalanche: a steep, snow-covered slope and a trigger that causes a weak layer within the snow pack to collapse. This video segment adapted from NOVA reveals that the shape of the ice crystals of snowflakes within a snow pack is also a critical factor. How well the crystals bond together determines how strong a snow layer is and therefore how stable the snow pack is.

Earth as a System

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Earth is a complex, evolving body characterized by ceaseless change. To understand Earth on a global scale means using a scientific approach to consider how Earth's component parts and their interactions have evolved, how they function, and how they may be expected to further evolve over time. This visualization adapted from NASA helps explain why understanding Earth as an integrated system of components and processes is essential to science education. This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Climate Connections: Questions from Colorado

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In this Climate Connections segment, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) answer questions from Denver, Colorado. The questions and answers address such issues as: the effects of climate change on Colorado's winter sports and tourism economy, the effects of climate change on the water cycle; the relationship between climate change and Colorado's 2012 wildfires; the relationship between bark beetles and climate change; and the relationship between the ocean and regional climates.

Rodney Bartgis: Conservationist | Rodney Bartgis

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Learn about the work of conservationist Rodney Bartgis in this video from West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Discussion questions are provided. 

America's Grasslands: A Threatened National Treasure | Balancing Grassland Preservation and Agriculture

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In spite of being described as a "jewel, a national treasure," America's Northern Plains grasslands are being threatened by increasing pressures of agriculture. The area's subtle beauty and ecological diversity and significance have not prevented large tracts of prairie from being cultivated for crops necessary to feed the nation. The key is finding the delicate balance between protecting what remains of original grasslands to preserve the ecological benefits they provide for wildlife, as well as clean air and water, and growing the crops that produce food for people all around the world.

Is New Orleans Prepared for the Next Katrina?

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Find out what has been done to prepare New Orleans for the next big storm with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from August 25, 2015.

When a Town Runs Dry | Global Oneness Project

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This short film, When a Town Runs Dry, documents life in Stratford, a small town in California's Central Valley. A farming community for over a hundred years, Stratford is suffering from a drought that is severely impacting the community, land, and residents' daily lives.

Currently in its sixth year of drought, the Central Valley is home to the country's most productive agricultural region, containing more than half of all the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States. Some farmers are selling land and cutting back on farmed acreage, while others dig deeper wells to maintain crop yields. Groundwater in the area has significantly diminished due to over-use and according to the Los Angeles Times, the water table below Stratford fell 100 feet in two years. Residents are living without running water.

This film explores the drought through the eyes of three Stratford residents—a farmer, a shopkeeper, and a high school football coach. All three men prepare for an uncertain future.

In the accompanying lesson, students explore the effects of environmental change and consider the ways those changes impact community.

Erica Smithwick Video Profile

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Meet Dr. Erica Smithwick in this video from WPSU Penn State’s “Women in Science Profiles” (WiSci Files). Erica is Associate Professor of Geography at Penn State University, where she studies “wicked problems” related to ecology, biodiversity and climate change. In this video, Erica explains how women in science can indeed “have it all.” This resource is part of the Women in Science Profiles Collection.

Gerrymandering: Is Geometry Silencing Your Vote? | Above the Noise

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Fair elections are at the heart of American democracy, but many people argue that politicians have been undermining this American ideal through the practice of what is called gerrymandering. Gerrymandering has been described as the process of politicians picking their voters instead of the voters picking their politicians. In order to really understand this concept, you need to know how voting districts work. In this episode of Above the Noise, host Myles Bess breaks down gerrymandering, and how politicians on both sides of the aisle use sophisticated software to rig the voting system in their party’s favor.

Forecasting Suitable Habitat for Redwoods | Clue Into Climate

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With this video slideshow and accompanying lessons from Clue into Climate, produced by KQED, students learn that plants and animals must be able to adapt or move in order to survive significant environmental changes. Students also investigate how climate models are used to predict how species distributions may change as the planet warms.

Antarctica's Dry Valleys

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In this ThinkTV segment, Dr. Sarah Fortner discusses her research in Antarctica. She shares the experience of daily life in Antarctica and she discusses her reseach on the microorganisms found in the glacial meltwaters of Antarctica.

High Altitude Glaciers in the Tropics

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This ThinkTV segment takes viewers to Andes Mountains to demonstrate how and why glaciers exist at high altitudes in tropical latitudes, and how these glaciers help scientists understand climate change. It also addresses how glaciers are formed, how they effect landmasses, and hemespheric differences in glaciers.

Changes in the Ozone Layer

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This ThinkTV segment describes how the ozone layer is formed in the upper atmosphere, and how it serves to protect organisms from harmful ultraviolet rays. Depletion of the ozone, a process which began in the 1970s, was caused by CFCs. Today, the holes in the ozone layer appear to be shrinking.

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