Current & Trending

22 Ways to Bring Earthrise Into Your Classroom

  • SHARE:

Fifty years ago this week, on December 24, 1968, humans saw our planet Earth “rise” over another celestial object for the very first time. The astronauts who got the first look did what anyone today would do—they snapped the picture that would come to be known as the iconic Earthrise image.

This new perspective forever changed our species, and it may have been the most important thing that the Apollo astronauts brought back from their missions. As astronaut Jim Lovell said, "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth."

A half a century later, NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Jim Green says that the impact is still a “wow” for him. “It was the first time we recognized that we, as a species, have the ability to leave our planet and go out into the solar system. What we saw was a bright, beautiful planet full of life, against the deep blackness of space.” So why should teachers consider bringing Earthrise into their classroom? Dr. Green thinks it goes beyond the science and the art of the image, and right to the heart of why many of us teach. “You want your students to be able to dream, and this image allows them to do that.”

Whether your students have never seen the Earthrise image, or you happen to have a poster of it on your classroom wall, consider bringing some of the themes from Earthrise into your instruction with the resources from PBS LearningMedia below. A great place to start is with the Earthrise film, which includes a Discussion Guide for educators.

The “Big Picture”

With the bright blue oceans and white clouds “popping” against the inky blackness of empty space, Earthrise connected Earth to the cosmos. These resources provide a holistic view of Earth as a system and Earth’s place in the universe:

Seeing Earth in New Ways

Through new sensors and imaging technologies, we continue to see new and amazing views of Earth. The following resources help bring these up-close and dynamic views of our planet into your Earth and physical science instruction.

Living on Earth

Seeing our planetary home for the first time sparked a sense of connection and care that helped inspire the environmental movement. The following stories and resources address topics in ecology and environmental science.  

Life in the Universe

Powerful telescopes and unmanned space missions are helping scientists expand their ideas about where we could search for life beyond our planet. These resources support student investigation of worlds beyond Earth where life might be discovered.

Rachel Connolly

Rachel Connolly Director of STEM Education

Join the PBS Teachers Community

Stay up to date on the latest blog posts, content, tools, and more from PBS Education!