CPAWS has developed the action challenge to be a fun and curriculum-linked way to get your students involved in taking action towards protecting the environment.
How to play Action Challenge Bingo:
Action Bingo works like regular bingo but is much more interactive. Instead of calling out numbers to mark the bingo card, students in your class must complete environmental activities/challenges to fill a square. How you “win” is up to you – for example, you may decide the game is complete when you succeed in making a line, or in filling the entire bingo card. You may equally decide to take on challenges as an entire class, in groups, or individually.
- Review the various activites. The description of each activity is listed below. There are multiple activities to use for each of the 5 categories (Wildlife, Waste, Water, Energy, and Air). To read the instructions of a specific activity, just click it in the Action Challenge Bingo card. Or, to view information on the category and see all the activities, click the category name on the top row.
- Fill out the blank bingo card with the activities you want to offer your class. Pick one for each part of the bingo card, keeping the activity in the appropriate section of the card, i.e. Natural Art in the Wildlife column. You should note that the order of activities is also the order of difficulty, starting at easy in the Row 1, moving to difficult in Row 5.
- Decide the rules of the game. Will you work as a whole or in teams? When do you know you’re done? How much time will you allocate? A game of Action Challenge Bingo can last anywhere from a day to several months.
For an pre-made bingo card, made at an easy level, click here.
Bingo Card with all possible activities:
Wildlife such as grizzly bears and caribou are one of the most identifiable features of natural landscapes such as the boreal forest. Lack of knowledge and respect for these animals has led to problems with conservation and protection. While the Species at Risk Act is supposed to protect disappearing species, the needs of the species are often overruled by the wants of people.
On the other hand, learning about wildlife, and building a connection with plants and animals can be one of the most powerful reasons to take action to protect them. We know that plants and animals interact with each other. We also know that humans depend largely on plants and animals for our survival - providing us with food and shelter to start. Thus, it is in our best interest to improve our relationship with the non-human world.
Have everyone in the class pick a natural area that they enjoy and have them represent it using art.
Extension: Could have students pick an animal or plant instead of a natural area. Include the natural habitat as well.
Have groups of students pick one animal each that they will research. In their research they need to find what the animal uses to meet the following needs: food, water, shelter, and space, and where the animal lives. You can turn this information into a large chart. Have each group make a set of cards (7.5 cm x 12.5 cm works well). Each card will have one of the above needs. Make a copy of each set so that each group has one full set of each group's cards. Play like rummy, students are trying to meet all the needs of one animal.
Adapted from Project Wild.
Go on a bug hunt in your school yard, a local natural area, or wetland. Have students identify the roles of bugs and other invertebrates in the ecosystem.
Extension: Have students evaluate the use of different management practices to control insects. Possible topics include tent caterpillars or mountain pine beetles.
Identify 5 plants in your schoolyard or a local natural area. Are they native to the area or not? Have students research the interaction between exotic compared to native plants.
Have students create a field guide to the schoolyard using drawings or photographs of plants. Each student, or group of students, can research the plants in order to provide the information for the field guide.
Extension: Students could act as field guides to other classes, introducing other students to the plants.
Have students research one animal and then create its habitat in a diorama..
Have students research grizzly bears including their territory size. Then determine how many grizzly bears could live in Jasper National Park given their territory size. Compare this to how many grizzly bears are currently known to have habitats that range into the park.
Research an endangered species (could get students to research local or Canadian endangered species) and write a report, do a presentation, or create a poster about what the species is, major reasons it is endangered, and if anything is being done to help preserve the species such as zoo programs, research, etc.
Sources and sinks are two terms that are important to understanding the movement of wildlife and the role of protected areas and other natural areas. Have students research the natural areas around Edmonton and determine if Edmonton is a source or a sink, and how it relates to the surrounding areas.
Cut lines are the lines cut into the forest in order for industry to access different areas. These lines have a powerful impact on the local ecosystem because it increases the amount of edge habitat that is present in the forest. Different species of animals like different areas of the forest, some thrive in edge habitats while others end up without access to a larger area. Research some common boreal forest animals and estimate if that animal would increase or decrease with increased cut lines.
Use a 2 litre pop bottle to create your own biome. This can facilitate a discussion on closed compared to open systems.
Build or purchase bird feeders and place them in your schoolyard. Observe the feeders and record the animals that are using the bird feeders. Record the behaviour, species, length of time that the birds, and other animals, exhibit at the feeder.
Visit a local facility that works with animals, such as a zoo, animal rehabilitation centre, animal rescue centre, and learn how the facility is working to meet the needs of animals in the centre. Set up an information booth about the facility at your school for other students and adults to learn from as well.
Extension: Have students write a report about a specific animal that is cared for at the facility.
Take a field trip to a local natural area or have an education presentation come to you. Possible facilities include CPAWS boreal education in class presentations, Bennett Centre, John Janzen Nature Centre, Strathcona Wilderness Centre.
If field trips don't work, try adapting your schoolyard to have a natural experience.
Have a class pet that the students help to care for. Have the students research the needs of the animal in terms of space, exercise, and diet. And then assign students to take on different roles each day to ensure that the animal is cared for properly.
Different associations will provide support for these projects, either monetarily or with mentorship, or both. As this project may take more than one school year, working on it will achieve the points.
Potential information is available from the Edmonton Naturalization Group, the Evergreen Association,
Work with a local community, business, or city to become stewards of a natural area. May involve creating information hand-outs, holding an information session, planting native plants, etc.
Potential information is available from the Edmonton Naturalization Group
Have a plant fair, invite other classes and community members to come in and choose a local plant, plant the seeds, and take it home. Could include hand-outs about each plant created by students.
Waste can have devastating effects on the environment including the boreal forest. Throwing away recyclable items means that more resources must be extracted in order to produce new items. Compost can be used in place of fertilizers to eliminate the introduction of foreign chemicals into the environment. Packaging, bags, cleaning materials all contribute unnecessarily to the high levels of waste that our society produces.
Fortunately, it doesn't require a drastic change in our lifestyles to change the amount of waste we produce. It just requires a little learning and some new habits. The following challenges are designed to draw awareness to some of the areas where excess waste is generated and identify some of the actions that can be taken to reduce the amount of waste.
Reducing our waste production will benefit the environment in many ways. In Alberta's boreal forest, forestry, mining, and gas are three industries that can have damaging effects on Alberta's boreal forest. However, as long as there is a market for these products the industries will continue in what is generally an irresponsible manner. By reducing our waste and increasing recycling, reuse, and composting efforts we can all help to protect Alberta's beautiful forests.
How much waste does your class produce in a day, a week, a month, for the school year? Make a chart of the different kinds of waste your class produces while at school. Some categories might include organic, plastic, paper, chemical, etc.
Is there one area that your class is particularly wasteful in? Are you really low in one area?
Calculate what fraction of your total waste is in each area. What percentage?
Keep cloths or sponges in your classroom, rather than paper towel, to clean up any messes that occur.
Extension: Can you calculate how many trees you save by not using paper towel?
Use both sides of the paper before you recycle it.
Extension: During a break have students go around to other classrooms and find all the paper that has been put in the recyle box with only one side used. Make a pile in the gym and invite the other classes to come and look at it.
Calculate which class produced the smallest fraction of the paper. That group gets a reward.
As a class project everyone can make cloth lunch bags, or grocery bags.
Extension: Calculate how many bags you are saving by using your cloth bag.
Have students hand in their assignments using email or on disk. Make sure the teacher doesn't print it out to mark it. Marked assignments are returned the same way.
Extension: Send class or school notices and newsletter electronically.
Many publishers have now begun to use recycled paper in their books. This is generally noted on the book. Calculate the fraction of books in your school library that contain recycled paper.
Have students each pick a section of the library and sample a number of books from that area, keeping track of how many of the total sampled contain recycled paper. Then have them estimate how many books in the total library contain recycled paper. Compare estimates and discuss how estimates are not 100% accurate and how different factors affect it.
Research and make a display about how long it takes common items to degrade when sent to a garbage dump.
Newspapers can be recycled, but they often end up building up in people's homes. Have the students in your class, or your school bring in newspapers to be recycled. Then find a facility that will take the papers (some of these facilities will pay for the papers). Arrange to have some parent volunteers take the papers in.
Make sure that there are recycling bins in each classroom or the lunchroom to put recyclable drink containers in. Students can also bring drink containers from home. Have a few parent volunteers take the bottles in and then use the money to celebrate, or donate it to an organization that helps protect the environment.
Research the cleaning products that are used in your class, school, and or home. Find out what the environmental costs are for their production and use and try to find a green alternative.
Products have life cycles too, from the time they are first made to the time they no longer function. And all this has costs in energy and waste. Pick a product you use (eg. bicycle, pencil, overhead projector) and try to trace it's life history.
You could calculate the energy and waste produced and/or create a trip album for the product, where has it been to and what "adventures" has it had.
Students calculate the weight of a product and package and then find out what fraction is the packaging. Which packaging has the lowest percentage? What are the advantages of different types of packaging? How does the packaging affect the cost of transporting the product and how much you have to pay?
This activity works well after Unwrapping packaging. Have students evaluate different products and their packaging. Then pick a product and redesign its packaging. Considerations include, biodegradability, weight, protective value, etc.
Try to have one waste free lunch day in your class each month (frequency can be increased as students improve). Consideration must be given for this at the shopping level so have students design an information and suggestion hand out for parents and guardians.
Organize and participate in a schoolyard clean up. Be aware of safety issues such as unsafe objects, unsanitary objects.
Organize a trade event, where individuals can bring in the old books, movies, CDs, etc. that they don't want or use any more and trade them for something they would like. All trade items must be brought in ahead of time and individuals receive tickets for their donations. Tickets can then be used to "purchase" other items. An option for individuals who don't have anything to donate is that they bring in an item for the food bank.
Have adults from the community volunteer to fix broken toys, bicycles, and appliances. Organize it on one evening or weekend day and then invite families and individuals from the community to come in and see if their item can be repaired.
Learn about vermicomposting, or composting with worms, and set up a compost bin for your class.
Perform a waste audit on your school. Divide waste into categories "could have been composted", "could have been recycled", and "true waste". Then come up with solutions to decrease the amount of non-waste that goes into the garbage.
The boreal forest, through its soils and wetlands can act to remove pollutants from water; however, high levels of some pollutants can reduce the productivity of the boreal forest and reduce the growth rates. As well, water pollution can have negative effects on the health of animals living within the boreal forest.
Further, water is in danger of becoming a scarce resource. In some places in the world people already have to travel far from their homes in order to find fresh water. In Canada many people have become very wasteful of water, viewing it as a never ending resource, but there is a limited supply of fresh, clean water.
Search your school and make a report of all dripping taps. Why are the taps dripping, did someone not turn it off properly or is there a mechanical problem? Educate your school on the harm of dripping taps.
Map the path that water takes to get to your school. Where does it go after it leaves your school?
Research and report on the impact of different industries on watershed quality. What are the implications of this?
Using different types of supplies such as tin foil, straws, and sticks try to create a guard that will slow a marble down as it roles down a board. Make sure the marble doesn't stop. Why wouldn't we want the marble to stop? Why would we want to slow it down?
Have students research plants or animals living in different water conditions. May include desert, mangroves, wetlands, rainforest, boreal forest. Write a report, create a display, make a poster, or do a presentation on how the plants or animals are adapted to their different water conditions. Eg. How is a camel adapted to having low water availability? How is a spruce tree adapted to keep its needles throughout the winter?
Assign groups of students to different villages/communities in different places around the world. Have them find out how far the individuals there have to walk to retrieve clean water. Include communities from a variety of countries and cultures. Have students graph out how far their group goes compared to other groups.
Use different substances such as gravel, dirt, filter paper, etc to create a water filter. Examples of "dirty" water include melted snow from your car, salt water, etc. See how clean you can get the water using different filters. Compare your filter to how a peatland works as a natural filter.
Research and design your own rain collector that can be kept in your school yard and used to water school plants.
Is local water really local? Trace the path of a local water body, where does it come from and where does it go? Other topics to include are where to pollutants in the water source originate from, how has the water body shaped the landscape, and how is the water body used by both people and wildlife?
Estimate how much water goes through the school water fountains in one day and then try to come up with an education campaign to reduce this amount throughout the school.
Test the water quality in three places, either three different water bodies, or three locations in the same water body. You can either bring the samples into the classroom or go to three different spots. Test them for pH, nitrates, and nitrites. Test strips for this can be found at a variety of stores including pet fish stores. Talk about how water quality affects the wildlife and what affects water quality.
There are many organizations where you can donate money to help individuals and communities access clean water.
Take a field trip to a local water treatment or waste water treatment plant.
Have students research and design their own water powered motor.
Organize and/or participate in a local watershed clean up.
Have students experiment with the effects of different chemical spills in water. Options include oil, salt, vinegar. Have them investigate the effects and design solutions to help deal with the spills.
With Alberta's booming oil and gas industry comes dangerous times for the boreal forest. Wells, access roads, and other vital components of this industry cut Alberta's boreal forest into a patchwork of isolated stands. These stands do not meet the needs of some species like caribou, and meet the needs of other like wolves, too well. The high demand for energy though has turned the boreal forest into a barrier to achieving higher levels of resources.
Have your class check up on the other classes in the school and make sure that everyone is turning the lights off when there is no one in the room.
Have students research the energy production and environmental costs of different energy sources.
Have everyone in the class bring lunches that do not need to be heated up.
Analyze your classroom and then your school to make sure that the heat vents are not blocked by books or furniture.
Calculate how far your lunch has traveled and estimate how much energy was used to get it to your table.
Research and create a package to educate others on how they can be more energy efficient at home.
Having the doors open can increase the energy needed to heat your school. Before and after school and during breaks have students monitor the doors to make sure they are not kept open.
Have students in your school bring an extra sweater to school and turn the heat down in your whole school by one or two degrees.
Have students design draft detectors and test the school for drafts. Once found have students determine and make things to help stop these drafts.
Photocopiers and printers can use a lot of power. Make sure that if there is a power saving feature it is being used. Alternatively, set up copy times for staff so that the photocopier doesn't need to be turned on all day. Estimate how much energy is used by the photocopier initially and then after changes have been made.
Assign a student each day to be the energy monitor. Their job is to make sure lights and other electronics are turned off, doors are closed, etc.
Create a buyer's guide for your school. This does the research for the administration so that the next time they need to purchase something they can look up what the most efficient option is.
Have students create cardboard models of an energy efficient and non-energy efficient classroom.
Have students perform a school energy audit, calculating how much energy is being used in the school. Then come up with a proposal for how to reduce energy consumption.
Challenge another school to an energy contest. Pick one area, or several and try to beat another school by consuming less energy. For example: calculate how much energy is consumed by the lights in the school and try to reduce it by more than the other school.
Students do the research and then design their own eco-city. Considerations include transportation, energy source, accessability, natural areas, etc.
Research what trees would help to reduce the amount of energy consumed in heating or cooling the school. Deciduous trees planted by windows can reduce the amount of sunlight in the summer but not during the winter, thereby keeping the school cooler during warmer weather. And then plant the trees.
Although plants do extract carbon dioxide from the air and produce oxygen, air pollution can have negative effects on forest growth. Certain chemicals that may be present in air pollution can lower the pH of soil. It is more difficult for many boreal forest plants to extract nutrients and minerals from this acidified soil. Thus, air pollution poses a serious threat to the growth and sustainability of the world's boreal forests.
Divide the class into groups and have each group research the emissions of different types of transport. Some examples include diesel, gas, hybrid, electric, or air, water, road, rail. Don't forget about walking and cycling too.
Compare the carbon sequestration and air purification of the boreal forest compared to the rainforest. Don't forget to look at how much area each one has.
The information about idling has changed over time and sometimes it hard to keep up with the latest. Have students research the effects of idling on air pollution and then come up with a way to educate the adults at your school.
Have students research the effects of light pollution on local wildlife and present their findings.
There are many different types of industry that are often grouped together when talking about pollution and the environment. However, different industries do have different levels of emissions. Have groups of students each research a different industry and then have a class discussion.
One barrier to not using cars is how accessible your community is. Have students analyze how easy or difficult it is to walk, bus, or bike from home to school.
Calculate how many trees it would take to absorb all the air pollution produced by running a car for one year.
Have students estimate the effects of vegetation on reducing noise levels.
Have students test different types of air filters by putting one filter at a time in the end of a box. Light a candle on one side and smell on the other side.
Have students research types of plants that can be grown that help to purify the air and then grow and care for some in your classroom.
Have students compare different energy sources like hydro, wind, oil, geothermal, and nuclear. Evaluate the amount of air pollution that is generated during the actual production of energy and during the manufacture of the equipment needed to generate and harness that energy.
Have students research wind turbines and then try building their own.
Resource: Pembina Institute
Using a kit, have student build a solar car to learn about alternative energy sources.
Have adults volunteer to pick up a number of students and walk them to school rather than everyone being driven.
Build something where the sun provides the power to move something else.
Conduct research to find how air pollution travels across the world and create a map tracking the air pollution. Some things to consider include, does air pollution stay over the place it was generated, are there places that produce very little pollution but experience high levels of pollution, can you detect the impact of natural areas on the amount of air pollution.