In our continuing series creating a Guide to School Assemblies, today we discuss school shows and assembly programs that deal with the Environment, Eco-systems and climate change.
In previous chapters we have discussed science assembly programs in some depth. However, there is a subset of science based assemblies that deserve their own mention, and these are all the great shows that engage students in understanding the environment in which we live, along with all the facets surrounding the changing climate. Let's have a look at some of these now.
From the outset, let us be clear that there are two areas in question here.
On one hand we are looking at any kind of program that teaches kids about the world in which we live as it is today. On the other hand, we have those programs that discuss in one form or another, the ways in which the climate of the Earth is changing, and what affect that is having on all the various forms of life on Earth. Of course, these two topics are related and do coexist quite nicely in many of the programs available. However, because of the political controversy that sadly exists in all discussion of climate change, some schools may be more comfortable sticking to the former programs regarding the current state of our environment but which do not delve into how it is changing or why.
And there are a lot of choices available.
There are programs with live animals, such as our Animals and The Environment, which teach young people about the various creatures with whom we share this planet. Kids always love live animal programs, but these have already been discussed in previous entries dealing with this topic.
Closely related are those shows that set about to describe the specific ecosystems that exist in different parts of the country. These shows, when you can find them, are wonderful for supporting state standards, but they can be hard to find.
Then there are the various geography programs. These will include the standard fare with magicians doing tricks to teach geography, or singers singing songs about geography, or skate boarders … well I don't know how a skate boarder would relate to geography, but I have no doubt that somewhere, somehow, someone has figured out that angle and has a geography show available based entirely on their ability to do tricks on a skate board. Or with rope twirling.
However, there is another, and we think, better choice. The Earth Dome.
Sold commercially under the name The Earth Balloon, The Earth Dome is actually a giant globe, presenting planet Earth in a three dimensional representation that stands twenty feet tall. This huge balloon is covered entirely with thousands and thousands of high resolution photographs of the planets surface, melded together through a computer program to form an unbroken and highly detailed skin covering the entire planet and allowing unprecedented opportunity for understanding the size and scope of our world. In great demand around Earth Day in April, The Earth Dome is very popular with all schools throughout the entire school year, and rivals our Sky Dome Planetarium as one of our most popular shows. The Earth Dome is perfect for teaching students all about our planet.
But beyond teaching about the geography and the wildlife of the planet, there is still the other area of teaching about how the planet is changing, and what part of the change may be caused by the activities of people. For a teacher, principal or PTA mom, this can be a touchy area. There are strong feelings and emotions surrounding the entire issue and it can be politically charged in some areas. The last thing you will want is to set off an acrimonious debate in your school by engaging an assembly that takes a strong position on a very controversial topic. However, climate change is occurring and kids should be taught something about it. What are you to do?
Well, we have developed a program that may be of great assistance with this dilemma. Our Changing Climate and it's companion piece for the primary grades Helping Our Earth, bridge the gap by addressing the facts of change in the environment but offering an even handed, neutral stance when it comes to explaining why such change is occurring. Certainly other programs also exist that offer you a similar middle ground in this minefield of political peril. We recommend looking for one very carefully (unless you just want to use ours). The last thing a school assembly or enrichment program should do is to promote controversy.
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN. He also spent ten years coordinating assembly programs for the elementary school where his own children went to school.