Individual and Community Resilience

What makes teenage brains unique? What happens when people from all walks of life play an alternate reality game to create a better future? Lesson plans from Inside the Teenage Brain and World Without Oil.
Teenager Sleeping
Photo by Muhammad Rehan

Great Resources for Teaching

from the October 2010 YES! Education Connection Newsletter

Read the newsletter: Go Green! Go Simple! Preparing your students for an uncertain world

What makes teenage brains unique?  What happens when people from all walks of life play an alternate reality game to create a better future? Here are two classroom resources that will inspire your students to explore individual and community resilience.

Inside the Teenage Brain

Teenagers can be a mystery. One minute, they’re sweet, earnest, and on task. Then, snarly, evasive, and bouncing off the walls the next.

Frontline’s series “ Inside the Teenage Brain” explores scientific research and explanations for teenage behavior. Neuroscientists say the brain is like a house that is built in the early years, and the rest of childhood and teenage years is getting the furniture in the house and in the right place. Extensive changes in brain development—referred to as pruning and strengthening—during puberty occur simultaneously with raging hormones.

Sleep, mood swings, risky behavior, neuroresearch, public policy, and parenting tips are deftly discussed in this fascinating and helpful program. No matter the research, the experts on the show say that the biggest difference in a teen’s life is the quality time he or she spends with parents or other adults.

Teenage brain

Episodes include: Teenagers Inexplicable Behavior, The Wiring of the Adolescent Brain, Mood Swings, You Just Don't Understand, From Zzzzs to A's, and Are There Lessons for Parents?

To enter the Frontline series and recesses of the teen brain, click here: Inside the Teenage Brain

VISIT: The Child's Developing Brain (interactive)

EXPLORE: Anatomy of a Teen Brain

NY TIMES LESSON PLAN: What Were They Thinking? Exploring Teen Brain Development

In this lesson, your students will review recent scientific research on the teenage brain, including the Frontline series, “Inside the Teenage Brain,” and hold a mini-symposium to discuss its implications to topics related to teens’ freedom and accountability. Your students will note differences between adult and teen brains; what methods neuroscientists use to research those differences; and how that research is applied to parenting (think curfews and hanging out with friends) and public policy, such as teenage driver laws.

LESSON PLAN: What Were They Thinking? Exploring Teen Brain Development


World Without Oil

World Without Oil


In May 2007, people from all walks of life began to play a “what if” game.  What if an oil crisis started? What would happen? How would the lives of ordinary people change?

To play the game, people visualized what would happen if an oil crisis hit the U.S. As the game unfolded and the crisis was in full swing, people told their stories of how the oil shortage affected their lives and what they were doing to cope. As World Without Oil continued, over 1900 people not only created an immensely complex disaster, but they also visualized realistic and achievable solutions via their own personal blog posts, videos, and voicemails.

Though the game is officially over, your students can still play and learn.  World Without Oil’s 11 stand-alone lessons and grassroots simulation will engage students with questions about energy use, sustainability, the role energy plays in our economy, culture, worldview and history, and the threat of peak oil.


BP oil spill, photo by US Coast GuardLESSON 1: Oil Crisis: Get into the Game

A global oil crisis has begun. Oil usage worldwide has increased to where the oil supply can only meet 95% of it. Begin the inquiry into the effects of less oil in our lives.

EXPLORE: Lesson One: Oil Crisis

Bogota car-free day, photo by pattoncitoLESSON 3: Life is Starting to Change

Widespread changes are starting. Goods and services that depended on cheap oil are failing.

EXPLORE: Lesson Three: Life is Starting to Change

Community Food gardenLESSON 6: Food Without Oil

The impact of oil on our food supply is one of the most serious aspects of the oil crisis. Shortages are forcing many people to look for locally grown food.

EXPLORE: Lesson Six: Food Without Oil

To download all 11 World Without Oil lessons, in addition to a student guide on lessons, click here:

World Without Oil is an alternate reality game created to call attention to and spark dialogue about petroleum dependency. It also aims to inspire individuals to take steps toward living less oil-dependent, more resilient lives. World Without Oil was presented in 2007 by Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It continues through lesson plans for middle and high school teachers.


To explore more learning resources, visit the official website: World Without Oil

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