Social Studies

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Up the Yangtze

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Nearing completion, China's massive Three Gorges Dam is altering the landscape and the lives of people living along the fabled Yangtze River. Countless ancient villages and historic locales will be submerged, and 2 million people will lose their homes and livelihoods. The Yu family desperately seeks a reprieve by sending their 16-year-old daughter to work in the cruise ship industry that has sprung up to give tourists a last glimpse of the legendary river valley. With cinematic sweep, Up the Yangtze explores lives transformed by the biggest hydroelectric dam in history, a hotly contested symbol of the Chinese economic miracle.

Kenya Takes on E-Waste Problem

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Used electronics are one of the fastest growing sources of waste globally, and it is estimated that 15,000 tons of used computers and mobile phones are shipped to Kenya every year. Today, Kenya is trying to tackle the problem by building the country’s first electronics recycling hub.

Use these PBS NewsHour resources to inform students about the massive e-waste challenge created by the United States and other developed nations and how countries like Kenya are capitalizing on it.

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.

Fishing for Data in the Radioactive Waters off Fukushima

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This PBS NewsHour video and educational resource from March 6, 2014 will help students understand the dangerous repercussions of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. Hear the opinions from scientist and Japanese fishermen to learn about radioactivity levels in the water and fish.

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 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.

Finally Ebola-Free, Officials Say Guinea Not Safe Yet | PBS NewsHour

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Learn why officials in Guinea are slow to celebrate the disappearance of Ebola with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from December 29, 2015.

Astronaut Scott Kelly Returns to Earth After Year in Space | PBS NewsHour

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Watch astronaut Scott Kelly's return to earth after one year in space with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from March 2, 2016.

Facebook Mood Experiment Angers Users

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Help students understand the controversy over Facebook's psychological study of user behavior with this PBS NewsHour video and educational resource from July 2, 2014. Many Facebook users were upset by news that the social media network manipulated incoming content for hundreds of thousands of people without telling them. The manipulation was conducted for a study -- published in a respected scientific journal -- measuring how attitudes were affected by either positive or negative posts.

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.

Teens Sue Oregon to Stop Climate Change

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Find out why two teens are suing their state to help prevent climate change with this video and educational resources from PBS NewsHour from April 19, 2015.

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.