The Rendell Center has developed monthly themes designed to build basic civic knowledge, promote civic engagement, and provide practice in democratic deliberation. Each month offers an experiential learning opportunity for K-12 students to examine and discuss a new civics topic, with questions and activities designed to help them better understand the concept.
This free curriculum guide from the New-York Historical Society examines the evolution of environmental thinking through the lens of the Hudson River, spanning two centuries of industrial development, activism, and artistic imagination. The materials consider civic participation in the environmental movement and how activists sought to raise awareness about environmental issues.
How a Bill Becomes a Law – Clean Water Act of 1972
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act, was originally passed in 1948. By 1972, Congress had voted on an amended version of the law that included the expansion of regulations to prevent pollution of the nation’s waterways. In this lesson, students consider how the Clean Water Act of 1972 became a law. They identify key moments in the evolution of this bill including its path in Congress, its veto by President Nixon and its eventual enactment. Preparing and organizing information, students interpret these key events and share them in a storyboard presentation. While intended for 8th grade students, the lesson can be adapted for other grade levels.
Pathways to Environmental Justice
In this one-hour virtual field trip hosted and led by Edward M. Kennedy Institute education staff, students in grades 4 through 8 learn about the challenges posed by climate change and the need to transition to a more sustainable and resilient economy. They will work together as Senators to build a bill that provides assistance and environmental justice for three distinct groups of people affected by climate change: frontline and vulnerable communities, fossil fuel workers, and young people. Register here.
Earth Day Activities
You will find a suite of activities for families, teens and educators to celebrate Earth Day. Take on a Green Challenge to design a creative solution for an environmental issue, explore examples of climate activism, and learn how legislators consider a climate-ready policy issue.
Earth Day, Vietnam War Lessons, Ben’s Guide
Explore the story of Earth Day, resources on the Vietnam War, and go on a learning adventure with Ben Franklin. Read More ⟶
The Global You (Lesson Plan and Powerpoint)
Students play international detective as they read accounts of international pollution issues. Students also complete an activity tracing ocean currents and discussing the paths of pollution. These activities prepare students to identify the mindset of a global citizen and to define global citizenship.
Climate Change Lesson Plans & Resources
This curated collection serves as a great resource for educators to find a wide-range of relevant K-12 lessons on climate change, celebrating Earth Day or supporting young people as they continue to lead the conversation around the climate change crisis. What is weather? How does it impact people and the planet? Are there things we do that can address climate change?
Environmental Laws Timeline Activity
Students will have to select 25 environmental laws in American history from a much larger list. Their goal is to produce their own timeline of American environmental law history to present to the rest of the class. In doing so, they will develop critical thinking and analytic skills and articulate the importance of the Rule of Law to protecting the environment.
Environmentalism Then and Now
This PowerPoint presentation uses modern environmental images juxtaposed with historic images and facts, and then asks students: Is Going Green new? While it is clear that environmentalism and the environmental movement, even environmental law, are historic, it is worth discussing how today’s movement is different from the past. Today there are stricter laws, policy initiatives, social networks, and new technologies.