Iowa Public Television


This Earth Day, Ask the Tough Questions About America's Food System

posted on April 21, 2014 at 2:57 PM

This Earth Day, Ask the Tough Questions About America's Food System

Consider the environmental impacts of America's current food system. In the 21st century global food economy, why are most foods traveling an average of 1,500 miles from farm to plate? Why does it take twenty calories of fossil fuel energy to produce two calories of food energy today, whereas 100 years ago, it took only one calorie of fossil fuel energy to produce the same amount of food energy?

The complexities of our food system and its impact on the environment are at the forefront of a national debate. Use this PBS LearningMedia video and accompanying handout to examine how the eating choices of humans affect not only the landscape of the natural world, but also the balance of species on earth and the global climate crisis.

According to some estimates, agriculture is a 15-25% contributor to climate change. Michael Pollan, the author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, explains how the shift from solar-based agriculture before World War II to fossil fuel-based agriculture after World War II, affected the efficiency of both food production and fossil fuel usage. With rising oil prices and dwindling non-renewable resources, our current system of food production cannot be sustained forever, which has led some to explore alternative sources of food.

This eye-opening lesson plan will get your students thinking more seriously than ever about buying local. This resource for grades 9-12 can be found at:

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 2:57 PM Comments

Dr. Norman E. Borlaug's Legacy Provides Students with Educational Resources and Opportunities

posted on April 17, 2014 at 8:32 AM

 Dr. Norman E. Borlaug's Legacy Provides Students with Educational Resources and Opportunities

On March 25, 2014, the State of Iowa celebrated a milestone with the official unveiling of the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug statue in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Appropriately, the date would have been Dr. Borlaug's 100th birthday and is also National Agriculture Day.

Dr. Borlaug of Cresco, Iowa, is known as the "Father of The Green Revolution" and his development of miracle wheat is credited with saving an estimated billion people around the world from hunger and starvation. He is the only American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science.

The statue of Borlaug will be part of the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol Building, where each state is represented by two statues of notable citizens. Borlaug will replace the statue of U.S. Senator James Harlan installed in 1910, which will be relocated to Mount Pleasant, Iowa. The second statue representing Iowa is of Governor Samuel Kirkwood, installed in 1913.

Find more information on this once-in-a-lifetime milestone for Iowans at You can also visit the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines on March 25 to watch the live webcast, see a smaller version of the statue, and tour a new exhibit of agricultural paintings by artist Walter Haskell Hinton.

The World Food Prize, which Norman Borlaug founded, has created a section of its website all about Dr. Borlaug. They are inviting students, teachers and others to celebrate his legacy by:

  • Posting to the interactive Borlaug Centennial Map with the answer to this question: In honor of Norman Borlaug's 100th birthday, what will you do to help fight hunger? Students can also read other people's responses.
Read More »

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 8:32 AM Comments

Iowa's Own Makes it as a Digital Innovator

posted on April 9, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Iowa's Own Makes it as a Digital Innovator

Leslie Pralle Keehn is a currently technology integration consultant for Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency out of Blairsburg, Iowa, and previously taught 6-12 grade Social Studies and computer. She became passionate about using technology very early in her social studies classroom after receiving a grant to buy a Nintendo Wii for her classroom. She is passionate about gamification, blended learning, global connections, and student creation and collaboration beyond the classroom walls.

A 2011 C-SPAN Educator Fellow, Leslie was also named the 2012 Iowa Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year. Leslie's work now focuses on meaningful technology integration in all classrooms, empowering children to share their voice with the world, and using technology to create deep, global learning opportunities through project based learning, the maker movement, and authentic work.She has a BA in Political Science and a MA in Curriculum & Instruction: Technology.

Her favorite part of her job is helping students digitally publish their work and receive comments from a global audience. Leslie’s favorite PBS LearningMedia resources are the “Building Blocks” video collection for PK-2 about Social Studies, especially the video entitled “The White House.” Anytime she can use multimedia to help support Social Studies in elementary she gets excited!

Building Blocks

The White House


Learn about all the PBS Digital Innovators Read More »

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 10:22 AM Comments

Can Your Class Recite the Gettysburg Address?

posted on April 9, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Can Your Class Recite the Gettysburg Address?

“Four score and seven years ago…”

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, have your class join a national effort to encourage everyone in America to video record themselves reading or reciting the famous speech. Then, on April 15, tune in for the premiere of The Address on PBS, a 90-minute feature length documentary by Ken Burns that tells the story of the Greenwood School, a tiny school in Putney, Vermont, where the students are encouraged to practice, memorize, and recite the Gettysburg Address each year. In its exploration of the Greenwood School, the film also unlocks the history, context and importance of President Lincoln’s most powerful address.

To get your students motivated, use videos from PBS LearningMedia’s Learn the Address collection from WETA, showing a variety of individuals, including President Obama, Taylor Swift, Bill Gates and Elmo reciting those now infamous words. And it doesn’t stop there. The recordings housed in this collection will continue to grow as more and more people are inspired by the power of history and take the challenge to learn the address. This K-12 collection is sure to have your students coming back for more!

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 10:21 AM Comments

All Posts »