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Our Beautiful Planet

Showcasing Climate Science Research to Spark Curiosity and Increase Student Understanding of How the World Works


Our Beautiful Planet is a series of compelling 5-7 minute science films highlighting the cutting-edge research that climate scientists are doing to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues.

NSTA, Kennebunkport Climate Initiative, and Kikim Media have partnered to launch these films and this collection of classroom-ready lesson plans that highlight the science and engineering practices scientists use to explain the phenomenon of climate change.

Sponsored By

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Free Resources

The Future of Shellfish

Marine physiologist Markus Frederich is finding that while some sea creatures, like the lobster, seem to be climate change losers, others, like the green crab, appear to be winners. Markus and his students show us how and why.

Lesson Plan: Why Does the Green Crab Love Climate Change?
Daily Do | Download PDF Version
Grade Level: Middle School  |  Time: Two (2) 45-minute class periods
Community Activity and Discussion Guide


The Superpowers of Seaweed

In Maine, marine biologists investigate a way to protect shellfish from the damage caused by one of the lesser-known consequences of climate change: the rising level of carbon dioxide in the ocean. CO2 makes seawater more acidic and that damages shells. Their experiment: raising mussels in close proximity to seaweed, which takes CO2 out of ocean water.

Lesson Plan: How Can Growing Seaweed Help Mussels?
Daily Do | Download PDF Version
Grade Level: Middle and High School Levels  |  Time: Two 45-minute class periods
Community Activity and Discussion Guide


Sea Change

The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the rest of the global ocean. Since 2004, its temperature has been rising at a rate of one degree Celsius every four years. If that rate continues, by 2050 the Gulf of Maine would be eight degrees warmer. This film highlights the impact on Maine’s economy, weather, and way of life if this warming continues.

Lesson Plan: Why Is Something That’s Happening Out In The Ocean Such A Danger To Us On The Land?
Daily Do | Download PDF Version
Grade Level: Community Circle - All Ages  |  Time: One 60-90 minute session
Community Activity and Discussion Guide


The Climate Secrets of Cows

In California we tell another seaweed story. Biologist Ermias Kebreab, who grew up in the African nation of Eritrea, is zeroing on one of the primary sources of the build-up of the heat-trapping gas methane in the atmosphere: the world’s billion-and-a-half cows. They routinely release methane when they burp; it’s a normal by-product of bovine digestion. Kebreab’s experiment: adding seaweed, which changes cows’ digestive chemistry, into their diet. His initial data: the seaweed-fed cows produced 60% less methane.

Lesson Plan: How Can A Cow's Diet Affect The Climate?
Daily Do | Download PDF Version
Grade Level: 6-8  |  Time: One 90-minute session


A Search Beneath the Sea

Lesson Plan: Why Is Ocean Water Warming Faster in Some Places Than Others?
Daily Do | Download PDF Version
Grade Level: 6-8  |  Time: One 45 minute session
Community Activity and Discussion Guide


The Community Activity and Discussion Guides accompanying the Our Beautiful Planet films are provided by the Kennebunkport Climate Initiative to facilitate conversations about climate change, inspire curiosity and galvanize grassroots action. The content of the guides was created by the Kennebunkport Climate Initiative. NSTA was not involved in the development of these guides. Posting of these materials on the NSTA website is for informational purposes and is not an endorsement by NSTA for their use in schools or school programs. 

About the Sponsor Organizations


Kennebunkport Climate Initiative believes youth are key to solving the climate challenge because they influence and foster climate concern among their parents, communities, and decision-makers. Their goal is to develop a cohesive youth voice that influences decision-makers to embrace climate solutions. Kennebunkport Climate Initiative aims to educate, empower and activate 10 million youth to reach this goal by 2025.

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Kikim Media is a full-service production company that draws on more than 35 years of experience to engage, entertain and inform audiences. Working with national broadcasters, foundations, non-profit organizations, and individual clients, we tell stories that make a difference.

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