Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for and appreciate what we have. Many gather with their family and friends to enjoy a home cooked meal. But do you know what happens to what you eat after you swallow it? Take a look at the digestive system to learn how our body processes food. Then start a new holiday tradition by showing your appreciation for our planet by participating in an America Recycles Day event or reducing your use of plastics (or both!).
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Thanksgiving– For many families, the Thanksgiving feast includes more food than they regularly eat. When we have eaten enough food to satiate our appetite, the nerves in the stomach send a message to the brain to tell us that we don’t need to eat more. And though we can ignore this feeling of fullness and keep eating, our stomach will later create signals of nausea to stop us from eating more. For an interactive site for the more advanced students, visit
MERLOT and search for Digestive System.
You can also easily incorporate math problems into your Thanksgiving lessons. You can make a worksheet with math problems on the feathers of a turkey or conduct a survey of what the students eat on Thanksgiving to teach them about graphs and even Excel. For more ideas on elementary math activities for Thanksgiving, visit Scholastic or Kidzone.
The Plastiki– The Plastiki is a catamaran made entirely of recycled and reclaimed material that sailed from San Francisco, California to Sydney, Australia from March 2010 to July 2010. The boat is made out of 12,500 used plastic bottles that provide 68% of the boat’s buoyancy. The boat also included solar panels, wind turbines, bicycle generators, and a hydroponic garden to increase the boat’s sustainability.
Buoyancy is an upward force by a liquid, like water, on an object that keeps the object afloat in the liquid. PBS offers many lesson plans for teaching about buoyancy for all grade levels, including interactive websites, making boats out of plastic bottles, and making “flinkers”: objects that neither sink nor float.
Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil in a nutrient rich solution and water. The Plastiki is not the first vessel to use hydroponics to grow additional food. NASA has been researching hydroponics and how light, temperature, and carbon dioxide levels affect the growth of hydroponic plants.
Electricity is a vital part of our life and is at the center of discussions about renewable energy and sustainability. There are many ways to generate renewable electricity, including solar power, wind energy, geothermal energy, and hydropower. Your next lesson plan about electricity can include making your own circuit with a battery or demonstrating how static electricity works. For lesson plans for elementary and middle school students, visit ProTeacher. Start a discussion with your middle and high school students on renewable energy and what can be done to slow global warming by visiting PBS Teacher's "The Big Energy Gamble: Energy's Future".
America Recycles Day– America Recycles Day is celebrated every November 15 since its creation in 1997 by its parent organization, Keep America Beautiful. The purpose of America Recycles Day is to raise awareness about issues surrounding waste and recycling. You can incorporate many recycling themes into your lessons like building structures from recycled materials. Visit PBS Structures Lesson Plan and EPA Educational Resources for lesson plans for all grade levels.
Election Math- The 2010 election is just around the corner and is a great opportunity to show students how relevant math is. Math is used in many parts of the election; including opinion polls and the tallying of the votes. Learn more about the voting system used in the United States. For an interactive lesson plan taking high school students through the entire election process, visit learner.org.
Professional Development– PBS TeacherLine also offers a variety of classes in Instructional Strategy, Instructional Technology, Math and STEM, among other subjects for all grade levels. PBS TeacherLine a complete list of courses. TeacherLine also has local contacts for Nevada residents: Johanna France for Northern Nevada at (775) 682-7805 and Mark Nelson for Clark County at (702) 799-1010.
The Desert Research Institute is partnering with GreenPower and NV Energy, among others, to support and promote renewable energy in schools. The GreenPower program has recently implemented a professional development option for participating schools.
Upcoming Events– The National Geographic Society is holding a contest for kindergarten through sixth grade teachers and students at private and public schools. The competition involves students finding ways to reduce their school’s footprint and environmental impact. The winning classroom receives five interactive whiteboards and five sets of 32 ActivExpressions (a feedback tool that students use to interact with the whiteboard), $1,000 worth of National Geographic materials like atlases, books, and maps, and a one year subscription to National Geographic Kids magazine for every student in the classroom. Entries must be received by December 3, 2010.
The National Geographic Bee is a nationwide, yearly geography competition held by the National Geographic Society. Its purpose is to encourage an appreciation of geography in teachers and students. Final registration deadline is December 10, 2010 with a $110 fee.
Website Updates – The Northwest Regional Professional Development Program has a new web address.
We have found a new lesson plan resource for you. Lesson Plans, Inc is primarily a high school science education resource but also includes science curriculums for middle and elementary school. Lesson plans address different learning styles and are based on state and national standards.
We need your submissions! Do you have a classroom activity that really excited your students? How about a really great web resource that you have found? We will help you share your resources with other teachers across the state. Send your activities, lesson plans or online resources to us and we will feature you in our newsletter and add your resource to our website. Please contact Robert Newbury at firstname.lastname@example.org