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Science Activities: Classroom Projects andCurriculum IdeasPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vsca20
Let's Go to the Videotape!Stephen J. Zipko aa Randolph High School , Randolph, New Jersey, USAPublished online: 30 Jul 2010.
To cite this article: Stephen J. Zipko (1993) Let's Go to the Videotape!, Science Activities: Classroom Projects andCurriculum Ideas, 30:3, 32-36, DOI: 10.1080/00368121.1993.10113103
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An Interactive, Interdisciplinary SlS Activity
Lets Go to the Videotape! STEPHEN J. ZlPKO
elevision in the classroom is often a contro- versial topic of discussion, but video can be a great way to help students sharpen their critical-thinking skills. By watching instruc- tional television videos (ITVs; see sources), students can better think their way through
important issues and increase their understanding of the relationships among environment, world geog- raphy, and the development of various technologies. The two ITV series used for this activity, Global Geography and Global Links, visually stimulate students in junior and senior high school and provide them with the perspectives, information concepts, and skills essential to understanding themselves, their relationships to the Earth, and their interdependence with other cultures in the world. Through these series, they will look at the complex issues of the technologi- cal quest for social and economic progress in develop- ing, or Third World, countries, whose inhabitants ac- count for some 70 percent of the global population. Students get a comprehensive view of the obstacles to development, the strategies employed to overcome those obstacles, and the prospects for the future. The videos also show students how development affects and is affected by scientific, social, and economic changes in developed countries.
Objectives 1. Recognize the importance of the adoption of new
ideas to the improvement of agricultural, trans- portation, and communication practices.
2. Obtain information from graphs, charts, and other illustrative materials.
STEPHEN J. ZIPKO is a teacher at Randolph High School in Randolph, New Jersey. He has published more than fif- ty papers and articles on science education and is the author of Toxic Threat: How Hazardous Substances Poison Our Lives (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990). He teaches courses in biological sciences and science and technology.
3. Identify factors that contribute to deforestation. 4. Describe how humans and wildlife are affected by
deforestation and by the adoption of new ideas concerning agriculture, transportation, and com- munication.
Prior to each ITV program, I provide students with data or other pertinent information. Such data can take the form of graphs or charts that depict popula- tion trends or changes in rainforest acreage; topo- graphic maps; or tables of changes in energy produc- tion and consumption by developed and developing nations. Because each Global Geography and Glo- bal Links episode is titled with a question, students should form hypotheses about possible answers to each question before they view each episode. The students then have the opportunity to test their hy- potheses as they view the episodes.
Global Geography comprises ten fifteen-minute programs. Episode titles are as follows:
South Asia: Why Are Forests Disappearing? Southeast Asia: How Does Change Occur? Japan: Why Does Trade Occur? Soviet Union: Why Does Planning Occur? East Asia: Why Do People Live Where They Do? Australia/New Zealand: Why Is the World Shrink-
North Africa/Southwest Asia: What Are the Conse-
Africa-South of the Sahara: How Do People Use
Central and South America: Why Do People Move? Europe: How Do People Deal with Natural H a z - ards?
The Global Links series consists of six thirty-minute episodes:
Traditions and the 20th Century Curse of the Tropics Women in the Third World
quences of Change?
Fall 1993 SCIENCE ACTIVITIES 33
Earth: The Changing Environment Education: A Change for a Better World The Urban Dilemma
Instructional Techniques The flexibility of this unit allows you to use various
instructional techniques, many of which will be de- scribed in conjunction with discussion about indi- vidual episodes and topics. In addition, students who m i s s one or more episodes can view them in a separate area, either during or after school, while the rest of the class moves ahead. The interdisciplinary nature of the unit also contributes to its flexiblity. Students can pur- sue different avenues of learning and research that all center around the same topic. Furthermore, various guest speakers can discuss different aspects of each ITV episode and provide up-to-date information on the latest technological developments as well as their related social, economic, and political ramifications. Such guests can also offer career information involv- ing these technologies. Perhaps the best way to con- tact speakers is to network with parents and their friends. Parents are usually the most interesting and in- formative guest speakers because they know some of the class members, including (of course) their own children, and so seem to take a keen interest in the presentation.
Program Description In my interdisciplinary course on Science, Technol-
ogy, and Society, I include topics that range from bio- technology and robotics to comparative agriculture, transportation, and communications technologies. Es- sential to the course is a comparison between the tech- nologies of the United States and those of other na- tions, especially developing nations. Comparisons are made based on examination of pertinent geographic, historical, environmental, cultural, and economic sys- tems and practices in each country. To this end, the Global Links and Global Geography series serve as valuable learning tools.
Initially, I focus on agricultural methods in various nations, showing the first fifteen-minute Global Geography installment on forest destruction in Nepal, Kenya, Brazil, western Germany, and Canada. I then augment the information presented in the video with photos, maps, graphs, and charts that demon- strate the relationship between population increase and use of forest resources in each country. Each teacher can create his or her own curriculum by rear- ranging the order of the episodes, but I choose to be- gin with agriculture because it is the foundation of every civilization that has ever existed on Earth.
After taking in all of this information, students then perform a series of indoor and outdoor lab activities designed to simulate the effects of forest destruction. They grow pea plants from seed to create model for- ests, practice thinning techniques, and simulate soil
Figure 1. A state forester explains the status of clearcut- ting as well as careers related to forestry.
erosion problems that result from deforestation prac- tices (such as clearcutting) used by different cultures and their various technologies (Zipko 1983). Because the first series episode also discusses acid rain and its effects, students simulate defoliation and forest death resulting from acid rain by pouring solutions with dif- fering levels of acidity on their model forests. They then observe how many plants survive and in what den- sities. They simulate clearcutting by using scissors.
Such studies provide a great opportunity to bring in a forestry professional (figure l), and I always try to do so. He or she explains how local trees are used, the local impact of acid rain, and state efforts to maintain forest resources. The discussion leads the students to a debate on how forest resources should be managed, especially whether they should be de- veloped or be preserved as is (Zipko 1991). These de- bates involve teams of two or three students who must first research the pros and cons of different for- estry technologies and then project their possible consequences if used by developing nations. Students also prepare research reports in which they debate forestry issues such as tropical rainforest destruction and the controversy over logging in the Pacific Northwest.
When this phase of the activity is complete, I turn the discussion to the so-called Green Revolution in agriculture. As part of the Green Revolution, begun in the 1970s, scientists created hybrid strains of grain that could be harvested quickly so that farmers could plant several crops during one growing season. Such intense cultivation, however, tended to rob the soil of nutrients much faster than normal and also increased the incidence of attacks by agricultural pests. As a re- sult, farmers had to use greater amounts of pesticides and nitrate fertilizers (both of which require great in- puts of fossil fuels during their manufacture). Further, more machinery was required to keep up with the in- creased rates of pesticide and fertilizer application and the increased number of plantings and harvests.
The Green Revolution is covered in the second epi- sode of Global Geography, which focuses on how
34 SCIENCE ACTIVITIES Vol. 30, No. 3
the increase in food supplies has led to increases in population in Southeast Asia, and how this increase has created a demand for even greater productivity. As noted above, there have been great increases in the use of farm machinery, pesticides, fertilizers, and new irri- gation technologies. Students learn-through the video, overhead projections, and readings from Toxic Threat: How Hazardous Substances Poison Our Lives (Zipko 1990kthat increases in each of these areas of agriculture require greater amounts of fossil fuels, which at the onset of the Green Revolution were cheap and easy to come by but which became steadily more expensive and difficult to get during the politi- cally unstable late 1970s. Students come to realize that the events of the Persian Gulf War have served only to heighten this already troublesome situation. To track the changing political and technological climate, my students created a bulletin board bearing information on the Green Revolution and its global impact on ag- ricultural practices and trade and on wilderness.
The bulletin board activity leads into the second topic of discussion in my lesson and the third Global Geography episode, which is global trade and trans- portation technologies. I also include a unit on the production and consumption of energy resources that is associated with these technologies. The lesson be- gins with an encapsulated history of global energ) consumption, particularly during the Industrial Revo- lution in western Europe and the United States. Energy use and indigenous resources in different countries are then explored, leading to a discussion of Japan as a net importer of energy and a net exporter of goods pro- duced with this energy. This discussion often raises is- sues of job equity and parity among workers in differ- ent countries. My students generally believe that American jobs should stay in America and tend to be against any trade agreements that result in the exporta- tion of American jobs. After viewing the video on Japa- nese trade, students usually express interest in Japans technological success since World War 11, so I provide them with a crash course on Japanese business customs.
At this point, I usually present episode six of the Global Geography series, which focuses not only on trade and transportation but on communications technology, my third discussion topic. Lead-in for the video comes in the form of a slide show on the indus- trial growth of Australia and its developments in trans- portation and communications. I emphasize the way that these developments have shrunk both time and distance between Australian cities and between the country and other parts of the globe. I then compare these developments with the situations in developing nations, which are much less connected to the rest of the world even though they are geographically less isolated than is Australia.
Students usually wonder why there are developed and developing nations, so I bring up for discussion the global political situations that keep many develop-
ing nations from catching up with industrialized na- tions and sharing in their technologies. For example, warm, humid climates tend to slow human productiv- ity, whereas cold climates force us out of necessity to become more industrialized. Students often ask how all this correlates with developed or undeveloped status.
The next section takes its focus from episodes seven and eight of the Global Geography series-water and sewage transportation and delivery. The focus is on North and sub-Saharan Africa and Southwest Asia, where (at least in the case of Southwest Asia) water has become a major problem because of the recent dump- ing of 462 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf during th...