Social Studies

Science (X) - Social Studies (X) - WGBH (X)

DNA: Secret of Photo 51 (2003)

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On April 25, 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick published their groundbreaking discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, the molecule essential for passing on our genes and the ''secret of life.'' But their crucial breakthrough depended on the pioneering work of another biologist–Rosalind Franklin.

Grade Level: 
Middle
High
Length: 
00:56
DNA: Secret of Photo 51

League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis (2013)

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The National Football League, a multibillion-dollar commercial juggernaut, presides over America's indisputable national pastime. But the NFL is under assault as thousands of former players claim the league has covered up football's connection to long-term brain injuries.

Grade Level: 
High
Length: 
02:00
League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis

Environmental Justice in Dallas

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Follow a Dallas community's fight to receive federal Superfund status to clean up the damage from a high-polluting lead smelter in this video segment adapted from Earthkeeping: "Toxic Racism." Hear from a reporter from the National Law Journal who explains some of the health effects of lead exposure and how after a cursory cleanup of a lead smelter site in West Dallas, the community was ignored, despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control about elevated blood lead levels. Meet Luis Sepulveda, a community member who organized the West Dallas Coalition for Environmental Justice, which eventually succeeded in having the site win Superfund status.

Bridging Culture, Community and Science

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CREST models an interdisciplinary approach to connecting students to their threatened communities, using technology as a tool and place-based education as a vehicle. By engaging in local projects based in the surrounding Gulf of Maine ecosystem, students learn to apply science and technology skills to support their community’s natural, social, and economic resources.

Collecting Data Below the Earth's Surface

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Underwater surfaces and subsurfaces are mapped for environmental and commercial reasons, including marine and coastal resource management, navigational charting, and oil and gas exploration. In this video segment adapted from Discovering Women, geologists employ special acoustic devices to learn what lies beneath the water...and deeper still. They hope to use the specialized maps they create to learn more about what is driving the western part of the North American plate to split apart.

Teen Maps Contaminants from a Coal Plant

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Meet Marisol, a high school student from Little Village in Chicago in this video adapted from Earth Island Institute. Hear about how she volunteered within her community and found out about the toxins produced by the local coal-burning power plant. Learn about some of the health risks associated with such pollution, and observe how she helped create OurMap of Environmental Justice, an interactive online map that includes videos, facts, and descriptions of toxic pollutants in the community.

Expedition 8 Crew Talks to Students in Japan

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Life aboard the International Space Station is very different from life on Earth. For example, astronauts experience a whole new perspective because they see Earth and space from above the atmosphere. In this video segment adapted from NASA, watch and listen as Expedition 8 crew members Mike Foale (Commander and NASA Science Officer) and Alexander Kaleri (Flight Engineer) are interviewed by Japanese students.

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

Earth System: Drought and Air Quality

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Droughts claim more victims each year than any other natural disaster. Depending on where it occurs and how long it persists, the cost of a drought can run into the billions of dollars. Droughts cause more than economic hardship, however. As this video segment adapted from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center demonstrates, droughts have a complex web of impacts that also affect us socially and environmentally.

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

Galileo on the Moon

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Galileo used thought experiments to test many assumptions, including the notion that heavy objects fall more quickly than lighter objects when they are dropped. Lacking access to either a vacuum chamber or a planetary body that has no atmosphere, he nevertheless correctly predicted that all falling objects would accelerate at the same rate in the absence of air resistance. In this video segment from NASA, astronaut David Scott demonstrates the correctness of Galileo's prediction.

Working with Scale

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In this video segment from Teaching Earth and Space Science, eighth-grade teacher Mark Goldner discusses the importance of having his students understand scale models and maps He creates a physical model of the sizes and distances of planets in the solar system, and his students make predictions and draw conclusions from the data resulting from the model. Goldner remarks that the activity helps reveal places where the students are having difficulty working with scale.

Samoa Under Threat

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The possible effects of global warming on the Pacific island of Samoa are examined in this video segment adapted from Bullfrog Films. For many Samoans who grew up with a subsistence way of life, learning to cope with natural disasters is nothing new. But, as Penehuru Lefale—the climatologist interviewed in the video—asserts, extreme weather events appear to be on the rise, threatening the survival of a Polynesian culture that is thousands of years old.

Living from the Land and Sea

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Learn about the cycle of seasons that guides the traditional Alaska Native subsistence way of life, in this video adapted from the Alaska Native Heritage Center focuses. As the seasons change and the available resources change, so do Alaska Native peoples' hunting and gathering activities. Recognizing the interdependence of life in nature, Alaska Native groups have respect for the land, sea, and animals. They also demonstrate respect for the Elders living among them. The integration of technology, including snowmobiles and GPS, into their subsistence activities demonstrates a blending of tradition and modern ways.

Above the Clouds: Telescopes on Mauna Kea

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Astronomical research is dependent on technology that allows astronomers to see the universe. Telescopes act as giant eyes, capturing the light from celestial objects and processing it for astronomers to study. Generally, a space-based telescope will offer the clearest views of the universe. However, astronomers have found an ideal site for ground-based telescopes. In this video segment adapted from First Light, learn about recent telescope technologies and one of the best ground locations—Mauna Kea.

Alaska Native Pilots

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Learn about how Alaska native pilots use both traditional knowledge and Western science to predict the weather. Hear from Alaska native pilots and others in the aviation industry as they describe the flying culture in Alaska and the challenges of flying in this environment. Learn about the importance of reading the weather and the landscape using nature's signmakers. For example, the shape and orientation of snowdrifts provide information about prevailing winds.

Studying the Antarctic Sea Floor

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In this video segment adapted from WomenInAntarctica.com, ecologist Stacy Kim describes her interest in studying living things that inhabit the seafloor beneath Antarctica's icy surface. Dr. Kim talks about her experiences diving in the frigid but clear waters and expresses her passion for working in a relatively simple and undisturbed ecosystem. She also describes a remotely operated recording and mapping vehicle called SCINI that opens up areas of the seafloor that are inaccessible to human divers.

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