Environmental Science


Environmental Science
BSA Supply No. 35892

While earning the Environmental Science merit badge, Scouts will get a taste of what it is like to be an environmental scientist, making observations and carrying out experiments to investigate the natural world.

Requirements

  1. Make a time line of the history of environmental science in America. Identify the contribution made by the Boy Scouts of America to environmental science. Include dates, names of people or organizations, and important events.
  2. Define the following terms: population, community, ecosystem, biosphere, symbiosis, niche, habitat, conservation, threatened species, endangered species, extinction, pollution prevention, brownfield, ozone, watershed, airshed, nonpoint source, hybrid vehicle, fuel cell.
  3. Do ONE activity from EACH of the following categories (using the activities in this pamphlet as the basis for planning and projects):
    1. Ecology
      1. Conduct an experiment to find out how living things respond to changes in their environments. Discuss your observations with your counselor.
      2. Conduct an experiment illustrating the greenhouse effect. Keep a journal of your data and observations. Discuss your conclusions with your counselor.
      3. Discuss what is an ecosystem. Tell how it is maintained in nature and how it survives.
    2. Air Pollution
      1. Perform an experiment to test for particulates that contribute to air pollution. Discuss your findings with your counselor.
      2. Record the trips taken, mileage, and fuel consumption of a family car for seven days, and calculate how many miles per gallon the car gets. Determine whether any trips could have been combined ("chained") rather than taken out and back. Using the idea of trip chaining, determine how many miles and gallons of gas could have been saved in those seven days.
      3. Explain what is acid rain. In your explanation, tell how it affects plants and the environment and the steps society can take to help reduce its effects.
    3. Water Pollution
      1. Conduct an experiment to show how living things react to thermal pollution. Discuss your observations with your counselor.
      2. Conduct an experiment to identify the methods that could be used to mediate (reduce) the effects of an oil spill on waterfowl. Discuss your results with your counselor.
      3. Describe the impact of a waterborne pollutant on an aquatic community. Write a 100-word report on how that pollutant affected aquatic life, what the effect was, and whether the effect is linked to biomagnification.
    4. Land Pollution
      1. Conduct an experiment to illustrate soil erosion by water. Take photographs or make a drawing of the soil before and after your experiment, and make a poster showing your results. Present your poster to your counselor.
      2. Perform an experiment to determine the effect of an oil spill on land. Discuss your conclusions with your counselor.
      3. Photograph an area affected by erosion. Share your photographs with your counselor and discuss why the area has eroded and what might be done to help alleviate the erosion.
    5. Endangered Species
      1. Do research on one endangered species found in your state. Find out what its natural habitat is, why it is endangered, what is being done to preserve it, and how many individual organisms are left in the wild. Prepare a 100-word report about the organism, including a drawing. Present your report to your patrol or troop.
      2. Do research on one species that was endangered or threatened but which has now recovered. Find out how the organism recovered, and what its new status is. Write a 100-word report on the species and discuss it with your counselor.
      3. With your parent's and counselor's approval, work with a natural resource professional to identify two projects that have been approved to improve the habitat for a threatened or endangered species in your area. Visit the site of one of these projects and report on what you saw.
    6. Pollution Prevention, Resource Recovery, and Conservation
      1. Look around your home and determine 10 ways your family can help reduce pollution. Practice at least two of these methods for seven days and discuss with your counselor what you have learned.
      2. Determine 10 ways to conserve resources or use resources more efficiently in your home, at school, or at camp. Practice at least two of these methods for seven days and discuss with your counselor what you have learned.
      3. Perform an experiment on packaging materials to find out which ones are biodegradable. Discuss your conclusion with your counselor.
  4. Choose two outdoor study areas that are very different from one another (e.g., hilltop vs. bottom of a hill; field vs. forest; swamp vs. dry land). For BOTH study areas, do ONE of the following:
    1. Mark off a plot of 4 square yards in each study area, and count the number of species found there. Estimate how much space is occupied by each plant species and the type and number of nonplant species you find. Write a report that adequately discusses the biodiversity and population density of these study areas. Discuss your report with your counselor.
    2. Make at least three visits to each of the two study areas (for a total of six visits), staying for at least 20 minutes each time, to observe the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem. Space each visit far enough apart that there are readily apparent differences in the observations. Keep a journal that includes the differences you observe. Then, write a short report that adequately addresses your observations, including how the differences of the study areas might relate to the differences noted, and discuss this with your counselor.
  5. Using the construction project provided or a plan you create on your own, identify the items that would need to be included in an environmental impact statement for the project planned.
  6. Find out about three career opportunities in environmental science. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.

Resources

Scouting Literature

Animal Science, Chemistry, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Energy, Engineering, Fish and Wildlife Management, Fishing, Forestry, Gardening, Landscape Architecture, Mammal Study, Nature, Oceanography, Plant Science, Pulp and Paper, Soil and Water Conservation, and Weather merit badge pamphlets; Conservation Handbook; Fieldbook

Books

  • Adams, Douglas, and Mark Carwardine. Last Chance to See. Harmony Books, 1990.
  • Bickerstaff, Linda. Oil Power of the Future: New Ways of Turning Petroleum Into Energy. The Rosen Publishing Group Inc., 2003.
  • Bowden, Rob. Waste, Recycling, and Reuse. Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 2002.
  • Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin, 1962.
  • Earthworks Group. 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Recycle. Earthworks Press, 1994.
  • Elkington, John, et al. Going Green: A Kid's Handbook to Saving the Planet. Viking Books, 1990.
  • Fasulo, Mike, and Jane Kinney. Careers for Environmental Types and Others Who Respect the Earth. McGraw-Hill, 2001.
  • Hall, Eleanor J. Garbage. Gale Group, 1997.
  • Koebner, Linda. For Kids Who Love Animals: A Guide to Sharing the Planet. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Living Planet Press, 1991.
  • Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2000.
  • MacEachern, Diane. Save Our Planet. Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1995.
  • O'Connor, Rebecca K. Acid Rain. Lucent Books, 2004.
  • Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. Guide to Environmental Issues. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1995.
  • Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw. Biodiversity. Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
  • Pringle, Laurence. Global Warming. Sea Star Books, 2001
  • --------. The Environmental Movement. HarperCollins, 2000.
  • Programme Resource Material on Conservation. Help to Save the World. World Organization of the Scout Movement, World Scout Bureau, 1990.
  • Rathje, William. Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage. HarperCollins, 1993.
  • Rybolt, Thomas R., and Robert C. Mebane. Environmental Experiments About Land. Enslow Publishers Inc., 1993.
  • Wilson, Edward O. The Diversity of Life. Norton, 1992.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Investigating Your Environment. 1993.

Organizations and Web Sites

Earth 911
7301 East Helm, Building D
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Telephone: 480-889-2650
Web site: http://www.earth911.org

Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
Telephone: 202-272-0167
Web site: http://www.epa.gov

Keep America Beautiful
1010 Washington Blvd.
Stamford, CT 06901
Telephone: 203-323-8987
Web site: http://www.kab.org

Natural Resources Conservation Service
Attn: Conservation Communications Staff
P.O. Box 2890
Washington, DC 20013
Telephone: 202-720-3210
Web site: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov

Society of American Foresters
5400 Grosvenor Lane
Bethesda, MD 20814-2198
Telephone: 301-897-8720
Web site: http://www.safnet.org

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Main Interior
1849 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20242-0001
Toll-free telephone: 800-344-9453
Web site: http://www.fws.gov

Endangered Species
Web site: http://endangered.fws.gov

USDA Forest Service
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250-0003
Telephone: 202-205-8333
Web site: http://www.fs.fed.us

Advocacy Organizations and Web Sites
Save Our Environment
Web site: http://www.saveourenvironment.org

Sierra Club
National Headquarters
85 Second St., Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: 415-977-5500
Web site: http://www.sierraclub.org

World Wildlife Fund
1250 24th St., NW
Washington, DC 20037
Telephone: 202-293-4800
Web site: http://www.worldwildlife.org