Solution Design to a Human Impact Environmental Problem

Contributor
AFT Science Cadre
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

Teachers in the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Science Cadre created this lesson to engage students in three-dimensional learning as they design a solution to reduce human impact on an environmental problem. The lesson uses the 5E instructional model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) and is expected to take seven 50-minute class periods. The driving question for the lesson is, “What are ways that humans impact the environment and how can the negative effects of humans on the environment be minimized?” Students engage in the lesson by first watching a short video about the phenomenon of large oceanic garbage patches. Following a group discussion after the video, research questions are developed to help answer the driving question. Working either in groups or individually, students research their chosen topic, make a claim, find evidence to support their claim, and propose a solution. Students use a cost/benefit analysis to evaluate their solutions. Students choose how to communicate their solutions to their peers using either a newspaper article, a blog, a radio show (voice recording) or video news report. Lastly, students work on their own to write an argumentative paper that describes and supports their chosen solution. Instructional support, a human impact student project planning sheet, sample responses, a cost/benefit analysis grid, and rubrics for student work are all provided. Teachers will need to create a login and password on the Share My Lesson website (https://sharemylesson.com ) to access the lesson plan and handouts.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.

Clarification Statement: Examples of human activities can include urbanization, building dams, and dissemination of invasive species.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The PE could be more fully addressed by including biodiversity in the driving question to students: “What are ways that humans impact the environment and biodiversity and how can the negative effects of humans on the environment and biodiversity be minimized?”. Teachers will want to encourage students to review the cost/benefit analysis grid as they design solutions to their chosen environmental problem. By doing so, students can engage more fully in evaluating their solution during their own design process. In addition, the end of the Explain section would be a very natural place for students to engage in evaluation of their peer’s design solutions.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students engage in this practice during the Explore, Explain, and Elaborate sections of this lesson as they complete the project planning sheet, the cost/benefit grid analysis, communicate their solution to peers, and write their argument. Teachers should note that the evidence students collect is not from their own investigations, but from research found in reliable sources. To best address this practice, teachers will want to focus students’ attention on the “Solution” and “Trade-off” columns of the provided project planning sheet. Students should spend time carefully considering their claim, evidence, and reasoning as they design their solution and then refine their solution using the cost/benefit grid analysis. If students engage in a peer evaluation, then solutions can be further refined using student feedback. Student peer-evaluation strategies, such as “Concentric Circles” or “Carousel Brainstorm,” may be helpful. These strategies and others are described in this resource from the Harvard Graduate School of Education: http://bit.ly/Discussion_Protocols_HGSE.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students engage in this practice throughout the lesson, but especially during the Elaborate section where they write an argumentative paper. Within the Activities part of this section, the lesson includes five particular components to include in the paper that will guide students in evaluating their claim, evidence, and reasoning behind their design solution and argue why it is the best solution.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Alignment to this disciplinary core idea will heavily depend on what topics the students elect to research. Teachers may want to also include biodiversity in the provided driving question so that students consider how human actions may impact other species. Students can even provide a case study as evidence to support their claim. For example, human degradation of an ecosystem through pollution may cause other species to decline - sometimes to the point of extinction. In addition, teachers may want to encourage students to select environmental issues different from other students so that more of the topics in the performance expectation are addressed. Then, when students communicate their design solutions during the Explain section, all students will be exposed to a wider variety of ways that humans impact the environment and biodiversity than just the topic they selected.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students engage in the crosscutting concept of stability and change when they make their claim, find evidence, and use reasoning to connect the two. This process begins when students complete the “Human Impact Student Project Planning Sheet” in the Explore section of the lesson. They also consider stability and change when they use the cost/benefit grid analysis in the Explain section because the impact humans have on the environment and biodiversity does one or the other - either causes change or helps keep things stable. Teachers may want to encourage students to explore this crosscutting concept in depth when they write their argumentative paper. To make the crosscutting concept even more explicit, the students can evaluate the short term & long term effect of the human impact they research. This idea could be added to the planning sheet and/or the argumentative paper to guide students thinking of this crosscutting concept.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson provides students with rich opportunities to engage in three-dimensional learning as they figure out a design solution to reducing human impact on an environmental problem by answering the driving question, “What are ways that humans impact the environment and how can the negative effects of humans on the environment be minimized?” Students develop and use multiple practices, such as asking questions, constructing explanations, designing solutions, obtaining information, and engaging in argument from evidence as they use relevant information about current environmental issues affecting ecosystem stability. The crosscutting concept of stability and change links the lesson sections together as students use their understanding to ultimately make a claim and use evidence and reasoning to explain their solutions. Teachers may want to emphasize the crosscutting concept as it may be less obvious to students.

  • Instructional Supports: Students experience a phenomenon (garbage patches in the oceans) that engages them in an authentic and relevant search to find solutions for environmental problems impacted by humans. The research questions students use are generated by the students themselves and provide opportunities for them to engage in concerns they may have in their own geographic region or that are of particular interest to them. Students express their work in one form of their own choosing and in written form. The learning goals are made clear to teachers, and suggestions are made within the lesson for providing students with more support. Additional resources are provided within each part of the lesson.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Suggestions for formative assessment are made throughout the lesson and two student products are created during the lesson. Students may choose the format of the first one from a list including written material, video, or technology. All students complete a written report. As suggested earlier, students can engage in a peer evaluation at the end of the Explain section. Rubrics are provided for the Explain and Elaborate student products. The “Human Impact Student Project Planning Sheet” not only provides evidence of student learning, but also a completed student sample as a guide for assessment. Specific suggestions for assessment may be found within the lesson plan in the Evaluate section.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: N/A