Social Studies

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Preserving the Forest of the Sea

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The University Herbarium at the University of California - Berkeley boasts one of the largest and oldest collections of seaweed in the United States, dating back to the time of the U.S. Civil War. Kathy Ann Miller, a curator at the herbarium, leads a massive project to digitize nearly 80,000 specimens of seaweed collected from the west coast of North America. When the project is finished, researchers from around the world will be able to go online and see the digital photographs along with collection information and a map of where the seaweeds were originally collected. 

Five Years Later, What Were the Effects of the BP Oil Spill?

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Explore the long-term effects of the BP oil spill off the coast of Louisiana with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from April 20, 2015.

Can Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Help Fight Disease? | Above the Noise

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In the last couple of years, the mosquito species Aedes aegypti has garnered perhaps the most attention, at least in parts of the U.S. where it resides. It’s the one that can transmit a generous selection of very nasty diseases including Zika, yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya. In an effort to control these mosquito populations and reduce the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, some scientists at the British company OXITEC have turned to genetic engineering. Host Myles Bess dives into the science and policy surrounding the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to combat mosquito-borne diseases.

Nasal Spray May Be Lifesaver for Snake Bite Victims

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Snakes! Show your students how applied science works with this PBS NewsHour story on treating snake bites from June 19, 2014. Although snake bites are rarely fatal in the United States, every year about 100,000 people die worldwide after being bitten by venomous snakes. A California doctor has developed a nasal spray treatment that halts paralysis before they reach a hospital.

Historic Relationships Between Dogs and Humans

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In this video segment from Nature, we learn that dogs were the first creatures to be domesticated. Ancient people thought of dogs as creatures of magic and as spiritual guardians. Dogs were often sacrificed and buried with people to protect them with their magical powers. In Mexico today, hairless Xolo (SHOW-low) dogs are believed to heal pain. Around the world dogs are useful to people for protection because of their bark, which acts as an alarm and can intimidate strangers. Barking dogs are a stronger deterrent for burglars than a burglar alarm.

Animal Shelter Photographer

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In this video segment from WILD TV, meet Joyce Faye, an animal photographer. She visits animal shelters in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area to photograph the homeless animals awaiting adoption. There are 26,000 dogs picked up every year in Albuquerque. Faye volunteers her time and expertise taking photographs of the dogs and cats and displays them on her web site. She hopes that people will rescue an animal from the shelter and make it a pet. Faye encourages us to do what we can to make the world a better place. Even small gestures make a difference.

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.

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.

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.

The Challenges of Breeding Pandas in Captivity

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Zookeepers at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington D.C. were overjoyed when a female giant panda gave birth to her second cub. But a week later, the cub died unexpectedly. PBS NewsHour spoke with Pierre Comizzoli, a reproductive physiologist with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Mei Xiang's "personal gynecologist," about the challenges of breeding pandas in captivity. This video and teacher's guide are from PBS NewsHour Extra.

President Visits Alaskan Arctic, Renames Mount McKinley

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Find out why President Obama is visiting the Arctic with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from September 1, 2015.

New Study Predicts Major Extinction Event in Earth’s Near Future

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Students will analyze a new scientific hypothesis that predicts a major extinction on Earth within the next 100 years with this PBS NewsHour video and educational resource from June 2, 2014. According to new research published in the journal Science, plant and animal extinctions are happening at a rate 1,000 times greater than before humans walked the Earth.

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.

Cambodian Lake Faces Uncertain Future

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Discover the cultural and environmental importance of Cambodia's Tonle Sap Lake with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from June 26, 2014.

West Virginia | Three Rivers: The Bluestone, Gauley and New

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3 Rivers: the Bluestone, Gauley, and New documents the economic, social, and political impact of the rivers on Southern and Central West Virginia.  Included in Teachers Resources is a cross-curricular unit which addresses the West Virginia Content Standards and Objectives for 8th grade West Virginia Studies.  The video is divided into 4 chapters: Introduction, Bluestone, Gauley, and New.  Curriculum is available under the Resource tab by the content area.