Lesson Plans in Pollution Prevention

Communities and Design

hat Grade/Subject Areas

Grade 7 (ages 11–13)
Science and Technology, Social Studies

monitor Objectives

After completing the exercises in this lesson, student will

  • Differentiate between different type of ecosystems in a community/large area
  • Recognize the importance of different services or designated areas in a community
  • Learn about various technologies that can reduce the impacts of communities on natural environments
  • Use their creative thinking skills to design their own sustainable community

puzzle Materials

  • Computer with internet access for every 2–3 students
  • Pens or pencils
  • Note paper or newsprint
  • Markers or crayons
  • Rulers
  • Plasticine, cardboard, construction paper (optional)

keys Key Vocabulary

  • community
  • ecosystem
  • urban area
  • insulation
  • fossil fuel

head Skills Used

  • Research
  • Classification
  • Creative thinking

clock Duration

  • 20 minutes for discussion
  • 30 minutes for research, design
  • home time as needed
  • 15 minutes for presentation

Teacher-Based Instruction

  1. Discuss the different components of community with students. What makes a community a good place to live? Discussion should include urban planning elements. For example, should all the houses be in the same area? Why or why not? Where should industrial areas be in relation to residential and commercial areas?
  2. Once students understand "community," introduce the concept of ecosystem into the discussion. How do climate, weather, sunlight, elevation, and geography affect human communities? Have the students make connections between the concepts of community and ecosystem. For example, suppose a city is located near the equator on an ocean shoreline. What industries are likely to be located there? Would it make sense to build a ski resort in this community? Also, help students to draw conclusions about how the environment affects all aspects of daily life. For example, plastic houses would crack in the cold temperatures of the North, and people living in southern Saskatchewan aren't as likely to be avid mountain climbers as are their friends in the Rocky Mountains.
  3. Introduce the concept of green roofs. Explain that using technologies such as green roofs helps communities to appreciate and use the resources within their ecosystem and, at the same time, to reduce the pollution generated by burning fossil fuels for energy. Point out that using soil for insulation is a pollution prevention technique, because it reduces the amount of synthetic materials required while decreasing the amount of energy required to heat a space. Have students suggest benefits of, and uses for, green roofs, aside from their value as insulators.
  4. Direct students to the list of environmentally innovative technologies. Allow them to discover and discuss the different technologies and their potential applications within a community.

Student-Centred Activity

  1. Explain to students that they are going to design their own community, either independently or in groups. The goal is to design a place where people would like to live, incorporating three different aspects of ecosystems (lake, river, mountainside, forest, etc.), three urban areas (residential, industrial, ecological, commercial, etc.), and five green technologies (from the list cited above).
  2. After students have had an opportunity to brainstorm ideas for their neighbourhood, have them draw out a tentative map (bird's-eye or top-down view). The draft should reflect all necessary components and illustrate the students' ability to incorporate urban planning and ecosystems. For example, a hydroelectric plant might be located along a river, but condominiums should not be erected between a swamp and a marsh. The plan should be both environmentally logical and liveable. This plan can then be revised by their peers or the teacher, to ensure that these criteria have been met.
  3. Once students have revised their first draft, they will create a final version. The final draft could be drawn, built in a 3-D model (if students are ambitious), or created in computer program, if one is available. Encourage students to use different colours, legends, etc. to make the layout of the community appealing to others.
  4. Have the students present their communities, complete with a name, to their classmates. The presentation could be oral or written for display, depending on the needs of the class and/or curriculum. Students should explain their urban layout, indicating how the communities accomplish goals of using natural technologies to prevent pollution, and explain the significance of their choices.

Lesson Extensions

Students could visit the Virtual School. Challenge them to come up with pollution prevention strategies that would improve their school's environmental stewardship.

In natural systems, very often one organism's waste serves as another's fuel or food. For example, microorganisms feed off nutrients found in animal waste and then, in turn, provide by-products for plant species. Because of this phenomenon, communities can operate on a "closed-loop" cycle, where few or no resources are wasted. Challenge students to close some loops in their new communities: have them identify wastes from one building or business that could be used by other people or groups in the neighbourhood.

Have students visit the EcoVoyageurs website, a site that describes and calculates individual "ecological footprints." Students should explore the entire site, but be sure to read and participate in the sections titled "What makes an EF" and "Calculate Your EF." (Students could either calculate their footprint first and then read about it, or vice versa.) Ask students to think about how their actions affect the natural communities on Earth and how they could modify their daily routines to help maintain a healthy ecological footprint.

Discuss with students the fact that, as new technologies become available, they can only be fully implemented when some of our societal infrastructure changes. For example, there is technology available that would allow a building to have a completely closed-loop water treatment system, but municipal laws do not allow buildings to treat their own water and use it again. Have students identify some of the changes that need to be made in our social systems (political, legal, etc.) in order to reap the benefits that some environmental technologies can provide.