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American Museum of Natural History


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Earth Day 1970-2022: What's Changed?

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  • This video details the positive and negative human-caused environmental changes since the first Earth Day in 1970. 
  • Students will learn about how human activity has negatively impacted the environment since 1970, what tangible positive changes have been made since the first Earth Day, and what we can do moving forward to fulfill the promise we made to our planet. 
Teaching Tips


  • This video delivers a large quantity of high-quality information paired with simple and beautiful infographics. 
  • There are no spoken words in the video, which may be helpful for students with certain processing challenges. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • All of the information provided is written, so some students may need the video paused from time to time to process.


  • Social studies classes could use this video in a discussion about the history of activism or Earth Day.
  • Language Arts classes could use this video as an example of using facts to persuade.
  • This video would work well for a debate on the statement: we are worse off than we were on the first Earth Day. Teachers could use the following steps:
    • Students can choose a position to debate or teachers can assign students to a side.
    • When watching the video, have students take individual notes. Then, have groups meet in "caucus groups" to discuss their top points.
    • A representative from each side can speak for up to a minute about their strongest point, then the groups can meet again to craft a rebuttal.
    • Allow each side to present their rebuttal and closing statements.
    • As a class, reflect on what points were made and which side made the most compelling case. 
  • Other related resources include this video about the success of the Montreal Protocol, this mind map that focuses on human responses to global warming, and this video about extinction.
Scientist Notes
The resource highlights the role of Earth Day in shaping human activities to conserve the planet. It introduces students to the efforts made by the government and the people since Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 up to 2022. This is inspiring and ideal for students to engage deeply to solve the current climate crisis. It is recommended.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 4.ESS3.2 Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.
      • 5.ESS3.1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
      • 6.ESS3.5 Ask clarifying questions based on evidence about the factors that have caused climate change over the past century.
      • 8.ESS3.4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
      • HS.ESS3.1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • HS.LS4.5 Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
  • Social Sciences
    • Social Science Analysis (K-12)
      • 8.34 Analyze how a specific problem can manifest itself at local, regional, and global levels over time, identifying its characteristics and causes, and the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address the problem.
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