natural resources

Sandra Begay-Campbell, Tribal Energy Specialist

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Sandra Begay-Campbell is Tribal Energy Program Head at Sandia National Laboratories. She answers the question "Why did you become a scientist?"

 

Contaminating the Rockies

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Learn how abandoned mines have been contaminating water supplies in the Rocky Mountains in this video from NOVA: Poison in the Rockies. Beginning in the 1850s, prospectors dug deep mines in the Colorado Rockies in search of precious metals. Today, more than 15,000 abandoned metal mines have filled with acidic water that carries away heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and zinc into mountain streams. In small quantities, some metals are essential to life, but in larger quantities they are toxic. Some newer mines include safeguards to make them more environmentally sound.

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

NOVA scienceNOW: Solar Panels for Your Home

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Learn about photovoltaics and see how two families are using solar technologies in their homes in this video segment adapted from NOVA. First, an animation illustrates the process within solar panels that transforms sunlight into electricity. Then meet Phil Reavis, Jr., who explains his interest in solar energy and the environment, and how his family was able to install solar panels on the roof of their house to produce electricity. In addition, tour the custom-designed home of Bill and Debbie Lord, which uses both solar electricity panels and solar hot water panels, and learn about state incentives and net metering benefits.

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

Germany Phases Out Nuclear Power

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Learn about Germany's controversial decision to end its nuclear energy program, in this video excerpt from FRONTLINE: Nuclear Aftershocks. In the wake of the 2011 Fukishima nuclear disaster in Japan, Germany announced plans to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022. Germany has decided to use coal as a source of replacement energy to maintain baseload electricity until renewable sources (such as wind and solar) become more competitive. An increased reliance on fossil fuels may have potentially serious environmental ramifications by contributing further to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Water Use in Hydraulic Fracturing

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Key concerns for critics of fracking include the demand for water resources, and potential for water pollution. This video explains how much water is used in fracking, and how it is disposed of after the fracking process. Accompanying lesson plan: Water Use in Hydraulic Fracturing (Grades 6-8).

From the Ground to the Cloud: Transforming Chimpanzee Conservation with High-Tech Tools

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Watch how the Jane Goodall Institute uses mapping technology on mobile devices for forest monitoring and chimpanzee conservation.

Converting to Biodiesel

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In this video from Earth Island Institute's New Leaders Initiative, meet Andrew Azman, a college student at the University of Colorado. When Azman suggested running the university's buses on biodiesel, people were skeptical. But he persevered. He built a processor to convert used french fry grease into biodiesel, and convinced the university to run a campus bus off the fuel. Eventually, this led to all 13 campus buses converting to biodiesel, a commitment from the city of Boulder to use biodiesel in its fleet, and the opening of the first public biodiesel pump in Colorado.

Pennsylvania Energy: Wind

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This video suggests wind along the ridges of Pennsylvania could provide 25% of the state's electricity while avoiding the creation of tons of carbon dioxide. While close to 80% of the Pennsylvania's energy now comes from coal-powered plants, coal pollutes the environment and contributes to global warming.
Whether part of a large or small system, a wind turbine acts like a child's pinwheel, with blades moving as the wind blows to turn a generator that makes electricity.
The price for energy from a clean source like wind will come down as the demand from organizations and individuals goes up.

Center for Sustainability at Penn State University: Energy System

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An engineering design professor explains three power systems for a homestead at the Center for Sustainability at Penn State.

Measuring and Saving Water | Cyberchase

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Students learn ways to conserve water, an important natural resource, in this STEM activity from Cyberchase. In the accompanying classroom activity, they calculate how much water is wasted from a leaky faucet over time and brainstorm different ways to save water.

Extend the learning with the related Cyberchase at-home activity Create a Family Water Conservation Plan.

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