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Learning science is a process that is both individual and social. Like researchers, engineers, mathematicians or physicians who work in teams to answer questions and to solve problems, students in science classrooms often need to interact with their peers to develop deeper knowledge of scientific concepts and ideas. The GroupWork activities were developed to foster an environment in which groups of students work cooperatively to:

  • plan experiments,
  • collect and review data,
  • ask questions and offer solutions,
  • use data to explain and justify their arguments,
  • discuss ideas and negotiate conflicting interpretations,
  • summarize and present findings,
  • and explore the societal implications of the scientific enterprise.

The GroupWork environment is one in which students are “doing science” as a team. Suggestions about when to introduce these group activities are included in the Teacher Activity Notes.

Format and Organization of GroupWork Activities

Each GroupWork activity includes teacher activity notes, an activity guide, an individual report, resource materials, and at times, data sheets. The activity guide contains instructions for the group's task and questions to be discussed as students plan for and work on a group product. Resource materials are varied. They might include textual information, visual resources such as photos, drawings, graphs or diagrams, video, or audiotapes. Individual reports by students are an integral part of each activity to be completed in class or as part of a homework assignment. Planning information for the teacher is found on the Teacher Activity Notes page.

Sets of GroupWork activities are organized around a central concept or a basic scientific question-a “big idea.” Ideally, as students rotate to complete these activities, they encounter this central idea, question, or concept in different scientific contexts or in different social settings. These rotations provide students with multiple opportunities to grapple with the material, explore related questions and dilemmas, look at different representations, and think of different applications. Figure 1 shows how students rotate from activity to activity around the “big idea.”

The GroupWork activities were designed to be open-ended to foster the development of higher-order thinking skills. Such open-endedness allows students to decide as a group how to go about completing the task, as well as what the final group product might be. Open-ended group activities increase the need for interaction as students serve as resources for one another, draw upon each other's expertise and knowledge, and take advantage of their different problem-solving strategies. When groups are heterogeneous and include students with many different intellectual abilities, the repertoire of strategies and previous experiences is rich and diverse. As students interact with their peers, they learn how to communicate effectively, justify their arguments when challenged, and examine scientific problems from different perspectives. Such interaction scaffolds students' knowledge of scientific concepts and principles.

These GroupWork activities then are quite different from traditional lab activities that include more step-by-step procedures and are crowded with details. In addition to reading, writing, and computing (the traditional academic abilities), students use many different intellectual abilities to complete their task. They make observations, pose questions, plan investigations; they use and create visual models, access and interpret scientific information from different sources and from different media, and convey scientific findings in diagrams, graphs, charts, or tables. The use of a wide array of resource materials provides students with additional ways to access and use information, as well as with additional opportunities to demonstrate their intellectual competence and be recognized for their contributions. We have included in the Teacher Activity Notes a partial list of some of the multiple abilities students might be observed using in these group activities.

When group activities are open-ended, rich, and intellectually demanding, a single student will not be able to complete the task in a timely fashion by himself or herself. Making students responsible as a group to interpret a challenging task and to design a common product or group presentation increases group interdependence. Teachers know, however, that it is also important to hold each student personally accountable for contributing to the group's success and for mastering the concepts or the big idea of the activity. To do so, students are required to complete individual written reports in which they respond in their own words to key discussion questions and summarize what they have learned in the group activity. These written responses can be useful for teachers in gauging and monitoring student understanding and progress.

Role of the Teacher Planning ahead and organizing the classroom for GroupWork is important for the successful implementation of group activities. We suggest that you refer to Elizabeth Cohen's book, Designing GroupWork: Strategies for Heterogeneous Classrooms, published by Teachers College Press in 1994. (See also Lotan, R.A.,J.A. Bianchini, and N. C. Holthuis (1996). “Complex Instruction in the Science Classroom: The Human Biology Curriculum in Action,” in R. J. Stahl, (Ed.) Cooperative Learning in Science. A Handbook for Teachers, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.)

Many teachers have realized that when students work in groups, direct instruction is no longer practical. The teacher can't be everywhere at once, telling students exactly what to do and how to do it. Thus, teachers delegate authority to students and students take responsibility for their own behavior and their own learning. Rather than constantly turning to the teacher for help, students talk with each other to find out what they should be doing and to solve the challenging problems assigned to them. Teaching students to work collaboratively and to be responsible to one another as a group is an important prerequisite for successful GroupWork. Students also support the smooth operation of groups when they have learned to play different roles in their groups effectively. For example, the facilitator sees to it that everyone in the group knows what has to be done and gets help when necessary. The recorder keeps notes of the group's discussions and checks to see if individual reports have been completed. The materials manager sees to it that the group has all the equipment necessary and that the tables are cleared at the end of the lesson. The reporter presents the findings of the group during wrap-up time. When the activity involves hazardous materials, a safety officer might be needed. Every student must have a role to play, and roles rotate so students learn how to perform each role competently.

Delegating authority doesn't mean that the teacher withdraws from the class or completely stays out of the action. Instead of being the focal point of the classroom, the teacher carefully observes the students as they work in the groups, stimulates and extends their thinking, and provides specific feedback.

Equalizing Participation among Members of the Group Making sure that all members of the group have access to the materials and that one group member doesn't take over or dominate the group while another withdraws are among the principal challenges of GroupWork. Teachers can increase participation of students by explaining how the different intellectual abilities are relevant to the successful completion of the task. The teacher states that while no one group member has all the abilities, everyone in the group has some of the intellectual abilities necessary to complete the task successfully. Furthermore, after careful observation of the students' work in groups, tl1e teacher can publicly acknowledge those students who have made relevant contributions and explain specifically how these contributions made the group move forward and become more successful. It is important that the teacher be able to notice the intellectual contributions of students who have low academic or peer status, and who are frequently left out of group interactions. These strategies are particularly relevant in untracked classrooms, where students have a wide range of previous academic achievement (mainly in reading) or where significant proportions of students are English-language learners. Teachers, classmates, and the low-status students themselves need to understand that when many different intellectual abilities; are necessary to complete a task successfully, everybody's contribution becomes critical to the success of the group. As more previously low-achieving students feel and are expected to be competent, their participation in the group increases, and subsequently their learning achievements increase as well.

Rachel A. Lotan, Ph.D.

School of Education

Stanford University

Figure 1: Activity Rotation in GroupWork

GroupWork Contents

Activity Duration Materials Activity Summary
1. Orientation Activity: Cleaning Up Our Act 40 minutes None Students explore how people in their own community impact the environment. They are asked to identify human activities that are beneficial or harmful.
2. Garbage Never Goes Away 50 minutes Boxes, containers, dirt, clay, rocks, water, plastic wrap or bags, and soil organisms such as worms, insects, and beetles. Other objects, such as buttons and plastic worms, can be substituted for real soil organisms. Students learn about traditional landfills. Then, they design and construct a model of a more efficient landfill.
3. Water Pollution-Sea Water 55 minutes Audiotape of newscast, cassette player, salad oil, motor oil, screw-top jar, sand, paper towels, newspaper, and bird feathers. (Miscellaneous items students may require: water, mineral oil, toothbrush, towels, and/or sponges) Students learn ways of cleaning up after an oil spill by attempting to clean oil off water, sand, and feathers. They then apply this information to make recommendations for an oil spill cleanup off the coast of Alaska.
4. Water Pollution-Bay Water 60 minutes Live brine shrimp, glass or plastic containers, spoon, and clean and “polluted” water solutions Students read a report describing the water pollution problem in Peaceville Bay. They then study the effect of pollution on brine shrimp and apply their findings to solve the town's problem.
5. Clearing the Rain Forests 50 minutes Art supplies for props paper, and costumes After learning about deforestation and indigenous peoples, students create a role-play of a debate over the use of a rain forest.
6. Culminating Activity: Earth Day Plan 50 minutes None Students apply what they have learned in this unit to their own lives.

Groupwork 1: Teacher Activity Notes - Orientation Activity: Cleaning Up Our Act

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

PLAN

Summary Students explore how people in their own community impact the environment. They are asked to identify human activities that are beneficial or harmful.

Multiple Abilities

  • Making astute observations (visual and analytic abilities)
  • Clearly articulating a position, explaining clearly and fully, using words precisely, being persuasive (communication ability)

Interdisciplinary Connections

  • Science
  • Social Studies

Estimated Time 40 minutes

Student Materials

None

IMPLEMENT

  • Before beginning this activity, introduce the notion of continuums to students. Below is one example of a fictitious continuum showing the popularity of chewing gum with middle school students.

Below is a second example of fictitious continuum. Ten teenagers were asked to respond to the following statement: The state driving age should be raised to 18.

  • During the wrap-up discussion, you may choose to have students create a human continuum. To do so, first tape a line on the classroom floor with signs-beneficial and harmful-at each end. Then choose a human activity and ask students to stand where they think it belongs on the continuum.

Extension Questions

  • How has human activity changed over the last several hundred years? human interaction with the environment?
  • Is human activity today more or less harmful to the earth than human activity 100 years ago? How do you know?

ASSESS

Use the group data sheet, presentation, individual report, and group discussion to assess if students can

  • explain how humans have changed the environment around them.
  • describe the costs and benefits of human activity on the environment and on humans themselves.

Extend GroupWork by having students research presettlement vegetation patterns. Clues can often be found in historical societies or pictorial histories with photos of familiar sites around town.

Groupwork 1: Activity Guide (Student Reproducible)

Orientation Activity: Cleaning Up Our Act

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

How do humans affect their environment? More specifically, how do you and the people in your community-your family, friends, and neighbors-affect land, water, air, and other species? In this activity, you will take a closer look at how your activities impact the environment.

Procedure

  1. Imagine what the land around your school looked like before humans arrived on the scene. Was there a grove of trees? a bubbling brook? many different species of animals? Share your ideas with your group.
  2. Discuss the following question: How do you and others in your community affect the environment? On your data sheet, write down specific examples.
  3. For each example of human impact you discussed above, decide whether it is helpful, neutral, or harmful to humans. Place it on the continuum for humans (see bottom of data sheet). Then decide whether it is helpful, neutral, or harmful to the environment. Place it on the continuum for the environment. Attempt to explain your results. Are there any cases in which a human activity is both good for humans and for the environment? Explain.
  4. Prepare to present your ideas to the rest of the class.

Groupwork 1: Data Sheet (Student Reproducible)

Orientation Activity: Cleaning Up Our Act

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

List of Ways People in Your Community Affect Their Environment

Groupwork 1: Individual Report (Student Reproducible)

Orientation Activity: Cleaning Up Our Act

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

1. What would the land around your school look like if people had never existed? In what ways would it be the same as today? In what ways would it differ?

2. Can human activity be good for both humans and the environment? Support your answer with specific examples.

3. What is one human activity that is beneficial to humans but harmful to the environment? Should this activity be stopped? Can it be changed to cause less harm? Explain your answers.

Groupwork 2: Teacher Activity Notes - Garbage Never Goes Away

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

PLAN

Summary Students learn about traditional landfills. Then they design and construct a model of a more efficient landfill.

Multiple Abilities

  • Making connections between concepts, logically analyzing the problem (reasoning ability)
  • Thinking of new uses for familiar objects (artistic creative ability)
  • Creating a physical model from a written description (visual/spatial ability)

Interdisciplinary Connection

  • Social Studies

Estimated Time 50 minutes

Student Materials

Boxes, glass bowls or containers of various sizes, dirt, clay, rocks, water, plastic wrap or bags, soil organisms such as worms, insects, and beetles. Other objects, such as buttons and plastic worms, can be substituted for real soil organisms.

IMPLEMENT

  • Instead of using live soil organisms, you can represent worms, beetles, and other insects with inanimate objects such as buttons, yarn, gummy worms, etc.

ASSESS

Use the group product, presentation, individual report, and group discussion to assess if students can

  • describe how landfills work.
  • explain how landfills affect the environment.
  • identify how landfills could be constructed to be less harmful to the environment.
  • show how a landfill could be represented using the materials provided.
  • draw and label the parts of their landfill model.

Extend GroupWork by

  • planning a class field trip to your community landfill.
  • inviting a guest speaker to talk about the local landfill.

Groupwork 2: Activity Guide (Student Reproducible)

Garbage Never Goes Away

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

Looking at the amount of garbage your family collects each week, it is easy to assume that garbage is not a big deal. However, if you combined your family's garbage with your many neighbors' garbage, you would soon have mountains of garbage. Most communities deposit their mountains of garbage in landfills. In this activity, you will explore the parts of a landfill and have the opportunity to “build a better landfill.”

Materials

  • Will vary. Suggested materials include boxes, glass bowls or containers of various sizes, dirt, clay, rock, water, plastic wrap or bags, and soil organisms such as (plastic) worms, insects, and beetles.

Procedure

1. Discuss a traditional landfill.

  • Explain the costs required to build and maintain a landfill.
  • Where are landfills built? Why?
  • What types of materials are used?
  • How does a landfill work?
  • How do landfills affect humans who live nearby? Other living organisms? The surrounding environment?

2. Use the resource card and materials provided to design and build a new and more efficient landfill. Consider

  • the cost and location of your landfill.
  • reasons why your landfill is more efficient than traditional ones.
  • how your landfill will affect humans and the environment.

3. Prepare to present and explain your landfill model to the class.

Groupwork 2: Individual Report (Student Reproducible)

Garbage Never Goes Away

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

1. On a separate piece of paper, make a large drawing and label each part of your landfill. Describe the purpose or function of each part of your landfill.

2. Explain what makes your landfill more efficient than a traditional landfill.

3. How will your landfill affect humans and the environment?

Groupwork 2: Resource (Student Reproducible)

Garbage Never Goes Away

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

How a Traditional Landfill Works

  • When you throw a piece of garbage into the garbage can, it goes on a long journey to a landfill.
  • The garbage is thrown into a dumpster and transported by a garbage truck to a transfer station.
  • At the transfer station, the garbage is placed in a larger garbage truck and is driven to a clay-lined landfill and dumped.
  • At the end of each day, soil is placed on top of the garbage to make it a “sanitary” landfill.
  • When the landfill is completely full, the whole landfill is covered with a clay top to prevent rain from leaking chemicals from the garbage that might be harmful to the environment.

How waste decomposes (or doesn't decompose)

  • Tiny microorganisms in the soil feed on the organic materials in our garbage.
  • In order for these microorganisms to live and eat, they must be in contact with the air.
  • Water helps these microorganisms live as well as breaking down the big chunks into smaller ones.
  • Sunlight also helps the microorganisms decompose things quickly.
  • Larger soil creatures such as worms and beetles or other insects help decompose as well. Gophers help churn the soil and organic material to expose them to the air.
  • In a traditional landfill, there are substances that can cause a lot of problems. Some garbage such as plastic and toxic substances does not decompose. It may remain in a landfill for a long time. Other wastes such as paint, motor oil, household cleansers, and industrial chemicals are very toxic to the environment. They can seep into the soil and water. Your new landfill should address these problems.

Groupwork 3: Teacher Activity Notes - Water Pollution-Sea Water

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

PLAN

Summary Students learn ways of cleaning up after an oil spill by attempting to clean oil off water, sand, and feathers. They then apply this information to make recommendations for an oil spill cleanup off the coast of Alaska.

Multiple Abilities

  • Making connections between ideas/concepts, logically analyzing the problem, solving a problem experimentally, making a hypothesis (reasoning ability)
  • Thinking of new uses for familiar objects (artistic/creative ability)

Interdisciplinary Connection

  • Social Studies

Estimated Time 55 minutes

Student Materials

Audiotape of newscast, cassette player, salad oil, motor oil, screw-top jar, sand, paper towels, newspaper, and bird feathers. (Miscellaneous items students may require: water, mineral oil, toothbrush, towels, and/or sponges)

IMPLEMENT

  • You may wish to make your own audiotape by simply reading and recording the script provided on the student resource card.
  • Remind students to consider the effectiveness, feasibility, practicality, and side effects of all their recommendations. For example, students should find that the mineral oil works quite well in taking oil off the feathers and sand. However, using mineral oil in a real oil spill can have deleterious effects on the environment.

Extension Questions

  • What important factors must be considered when designing a plan to clean up oil (e.g., weather, tide, temperature of water, location, proximity to land, money)?
  • Is it possible to eliminate all oil spills? How?

ASSESS

Use the group product, presentation, individual report, and group discussion to assess if students can

  • explain how oil spills affect the environment.
  • identify ways spills can be effectively cleaned up.
  • identify the costs, benefits, and feasibility of various cleanup plans.
  • describe how oil spills can be prevented, rather than just treated.

Groupwork 3: Activity Guide (Student Reproducible)

Water Pollution-Sea Water

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

In a typical year, one to 10 million tons of oil are spilled into the ocean. In this activity, your group will act as a team of experts hired to clean up a huge spill off the coast of Alaska.

Materials

  • Tape of newscast, tape recorder, salad oil, motor oil, screw-top jar, sand, paper towels, newspaper, and bird feathers. (Miscellaneous items: water, mineral oil, liquid soap, toothbrush, towels, and/or sponges)

Procedure

1. Listen to the news reports on the audiotape. Transcripts of these reports are provided on the resource card. Then discuss the following questions.

  • What effect does an oil spill have on the ocean?
  • How are animals and plants affected by an oil spill? Be specific.

2. The people of Alaska are very lucky to have your group help clean up this messy spill. In order to make informed decisions about how the spill should be cleaned, experiment with the following. Record your findings on the data sheet.

a. Motor oil in water: Investigate ways to clean the water. What methods did you use? How successful were you? Explain whether the methods are possible for a large body of water.

b. Motor oil on feathers: Investigate ways to clean the oil off the feathers. What methods did you use? How successful were you? Explain whether the methods are possible for live birds.

c. Motor oil on sand: Investigate ways to clean the oil off the sand. What methods did you use? How successful were you? Explain whether the methods are possible for an entire beach.

3. Based on your findings, create a presentation on how to clean up the oil spill. Include an estimate of how much it will cost, how effective it will be, and what problems will remain after the cleanup.

Groupwork 3: Individual Report (Student Reproducible)

Water Pollution-Sea Water

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

1. What are some of the many costs of an oil spill?

2. What procedure or method was the most successful in removing motor oil from water? from bird feathers? from sand? Explain whether or not you think the procedure can be used to clean up a large oil spill.

3. What steps are needed to prevent oil spills? Explain whether or not you think people believe these steps are possible and necessary.

Groupwork 3: Resource (Student Reproducible)

Water Pollution-Sea Water

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

News Report

March 25, 1989

Last night the 987-foot Exxon Valdez was sailing through Prince William Sound, Alaska, when the oil super tanker containing 40 million gallons of crude oil collided with the rocks of the Bligh Reef. Cleanup officials estimate that eleven million gallons of oil spilled out of the tanker into the water and that thousands of Alaskan animals have died as a result. The cost of the cleanup is expected to run into the millions of dollars.

While the cause of the disaster is still undetermined, investigators are questioning the captain of the ship. Crew members report the captain had been drinking prior to the collision.

April 3, 1989

Environmental scientists reported the result of a recent study done one week after the Exxon Valdez disaster. They found that two-thirds of the birds living in Prince William Sound had died. Apparently thousands of birds died either immediately after or within a few days of the oil spill. Theresa Perez, a scientist studying the damage, expects it will take from twenty to seventy-five years for the bird population to return to its prespill size.

In addition, the scientists estimate that 85% of the otters in the Sound died as a result of the spill. While the population of otters before the spill exceeded 4,000 animals, today only a few hundred remain. Perez explains, “Some suffered nosebleeds. Others were blinded. Their livers and kidneys were damaged when they ingested oil while cleaning their coats. When their fur became matted with oil it lost its insulating ability. Otters lack thick blubber, which other sea mammals have. They contract hypothermia and die.” The recovery period of the otters has yet to be determined. But whatever the length of time, the effects of the Valdez oil spill will be devastating.

Groupwork 4: Teacher Activity Notes - Water Pollution-Bay Water

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

PLAN

Summary Students read a report describing the water pollution problem in Peaceville Bay. They then study the effect of pollution on brine shrimp and apply their findings to solve the town's problem.

Multiple Abilities

  • Recording data correctly and clearly, measuring accurately, explaining clearly and fully, observing carefully and accurately (ability to be precise)
  • Applying empirical data to a natural setting (reasoning ability)

Interdisciplinary Connection

  • Social Studies

Estimated Time 60 minutes

Student Materials

Live brine shrimp (or paramecia), glass or plastic containers, spoon, and clean and “polluted” water solutions

IMPLEMENT

  • If there are concerns about experimenting with multicellular organisms, paramecium can be substituted for the brine shrimp.
  • Making the solutions:
    • Acid rain can be simulated by adding approximately 20 \ ml of vinegar to 100 \ ml of water.
    • Adding table salt to the water can simulate farm fertilizers, which contain salts. Add approximately 5 \ g of NaCl to 100 \ ml of water.
  • The concentration of the solutions can be altered for different results. For example, if you don't want the shrimp to die, the solutions can be diluted. Depending on the exact levels of “pollution” in your water, students may find that the brine shrimp are killed by the acidic water but not the salt water.
  • After the presentation, tell the group how you simulated the polluted water. Explain that NaCl (table salt) is a mineral salt that is similar to salts found in fertilizer, for example, potassium sulfate and magnesium phosphate. While brine shrimp live naturally in salt water, high levels of salt could be harmful. Also explain that acid rain, caused by factory pollution, can increase the acidity of lakes, streams, and rivers.

Extension Questions

  • If fertilizer is so beneficial to crops, why isn't it good for lakes too?
  • What other pollution problems may face this bay as a result of the town's development?
  • Do you think this bay can ever be returned to its natural, unpolluted condition? Explain.

ASSESS

Use the group data sheet, presentation, individual report, and group discussion to assess if students can

  • describe how different pollutants affect brine shrimp.
  • explain how the death of the brine shrimp affects the rest of the bay's ecosystem.
  • demonstrate the procedure of a scientific experiment (e.g., having a control, keeping variables the same, etc.).
  • identify how policy decisions may be based on scientific data.

Extend GroupWork 4 by having

  • students test the pH of the polluted water using pH paper.
  • students give houseplants too much fertilizer so that they chemically “burn.”

Groupwork 4: Activity Guide (Student Reproducible)

Water Pollution-Bay Water

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

Help! The mayor of Peaceville Bay desperately needs your advice. The city's bay is polluted. The mayor has hired a number of teams to investigate the problem. She would like your team to investigate the effects of pollution on brine shrimp. Here's a little information about brine shrimp to start.

Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp are small crustaceans. They feed on green algae and are found in salt lakes or brine ponds worldwide. The water in which brine shrimp live is usually 25^\circ C to 30^\circ C and neutral to slightly alkaline. The water's saltiness varies from place to place and is related to the salt tolerance of the brine shrimp's predators. Some species of brine shrimp show a positive response to light and some show a negative response.

Brine shrimp reproduce often. Their eggs can survive dry or anaerobic conditions for up to three years. Brine shrimp are often sold as food for fish and other small animals in aquariums.

Materials

  • Live brine shrimp, glass or plastic containers, spoon, and clean and “polluted” water solutions

Procedure

1. Read the attached report (Resource), which describes the history of the bay.

2. Before your team begins, discuss the following.

  • How does polluted water affect aquatic organisms such as brine shrimp?
  • Are there safe levels of pollution?
  • Are some pollutants more deadly than others?
  • What would happen to a bay if all the brine shrimp died?

3. The mayor of Peaceville Bay has been informed that polluted water from factories and farms has been draining into the bay. She would like your team to pinpoint what's killing the bay's brine shrimp. Two possible pollutants are acid rain and farm fertilizers. Using the materials provided, conduct an experiment to determine the effects of these two pollutants on brine shrimp. Record your results on the data sheet.

4. Discuss with your group other possible pollutants in the water. Design an experiment to test the effects of these other pollutants on brine shrimp.

5. Create a report for the mayor and city council, which presents your findings. Include the following.

  • the effect of acidic water and fertilizer on brine shrimp
  • a plan to test the effect of other pollutants on brine shrimp
  • steps the community can take to save the brine shrimp and other life in the bay

Groupwork 4: Individual Report (Student Reproducible)

Water Pollution-Bay Water

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

1. What procedure did you use to test the effects of acid rain and fertilizer on brine shrimp? Explain the specific steps of your procedure so that someone else can repeat the experiments.

2. Why is it important for Peaceville Bay to save its brine shrimp? How does acidity affect brine shrimp? Fertilizer? Include evidence from your experiments.

3. What can the community do to save the bay and improve its own quality of life? What kinds of human activity are polluting Peaceville Bay? How do you know?

Groupwork 4: Resource (Student Reproducible)

Water Pollution-Bay Water

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

History of Peaceville Bay

A large community of organisms lives beneath the surface of Peaceville Bay. Light that penetrates the surface and minerals in the water support plants, which are the basis of the bay's food web. All the plants and animals in the bay are part of this food web. Some of the organisms in the food web are algae, fish, frogs, clams, and birds.

Originally, a Native American tribe lived near the shore. The Native Americans apparently had been there a long time because their village and fields were well established. The first Europeans to find the bay were fur trappers. Like the Native Americans, they were attracted to the bay. The land was fertile and moist, and crops grown there could provide food for many families. There were also many animals, and trapping was easy.

As word about the bay spread, more and more people were attracted to the area. Forests were cleared to develop more farmland and grazing land for cattle and sheep. When the forests were cut down, fur-bearing animals disappeared, putting the fur traders out of business. They solved this problem by producing items such as cloth, guns, plows, and luxuries in their own workshops. Then the settlers expanded their workshops into small factories.

Many factories were successful and people came to work in them. As a result, additional food was required and the remaining forests were converted into cropland. Slowly but surely, the bay area evolved into the massive industrial and agricultural center it is today.

Soon there were no more forests that could be cleared for farming. In order to feed the growing population, the farmers needed to increase the amount of food produced on their farms. About this time, fertilizers were developed. By using fertilizers, farmers could plant all their fields every year without worrying about affecting the quality of the soil.

A few years later, people noticed more algae in the bay than before. Soon swimmers complained about the slime that clung to their bodies. The mayor's office was swamped with many angry descriptions of the foul odor coming from the water. A reporter for the local newspaper wrote that the crowds of Sunday afternoon swimmers and picnickers on the beaches had been replaced by dead fish and masses of rotting algae.

Groupwork 5: Teacher Activity Notes - Clearing the Rain Forests

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

PLAN

Summary After learning about deforestation and indigenous peoples, students create a role-play of a debate over the use of a rain forest.

Multiple Abilities

  • Creating a role-play, taking the role of an imaginary person, directing group's role-play, expressing emotions, imagining an experience you have never experienced (creative/dramatic ability)
  • Considering multiple perspectives, logically analyzing the problem, applying previous knowledge (reasoning ability)
  • Reading comprehension (conventional academic ability)

Interdisciplinary Connection

  • Dramatic Arts

Estimated Time 50 minutes

Student Materials

Art supplies for props, paper, and costumes

IMPLEMENT

  • When introducing this activity, you may wish to share the following quote with your students. Although uttered in the 1800s, it makes a point that is still relevant today: how you perceive the land influences how you treat it.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children-that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood, which unites one's family. All things are connected....
(Source of this quote is in question. However, it is sometimes attributed to the Native American Chief Seattle)
  • The video is titled Race to Save the Planet: The Diversity of Life and is 15 minutes long. Please feel free to use another video of approximately the same length.
  • The role of recorder is especially important in this activity. Emphasize to the group(s) that the recorder should take careful notes of the points discussed so that they are included in the role-play.

Extension Questions

  • Do some people want to save the forest only because they see it as a commodity, as a source of plants and animals that could be useful to humans? Are these the right reasons?
  • If removal of the rain forests continues, how will life be different for future generations? How will the earth be different?

ASSESS

Use the role-play, individual report, and group discussion to assess if students can

  • identify how and why humans have changed the face of the rain forests.
  • explain that rain forest destruction is a very complicated issue. There are both costs and benefits to deforestation, and what's right depends on one's perspective. Thus, there is no one easy solution to the problem of deforestation.

Groupwork 5: Activity Guide (Student Reproducible)

Clearing the Rain Forests

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

Tropical rain forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. People in the countries with rain forests are cutting them down to make the land available for people to use and live on. These countries are often poor and view land development as a money-making opportunity. Who wins and who loses when rain forests are cleared?

Materials

  • Art supplies for props, paper, and costumes

Procedure

1. Watch the video about the clearing of rain forests. Discuss the following questions.

  • Why develop the rain forests? Use specific examples from the video to support rain forest development.
  • Why preserve the rain forests? Use specific examples to support rain forest preservation.
  • Which position do you take? Why?
  • What factors influence a person's opinion about this issue?

2. A large piece of rain forest in the Amazon is being considered for development. Create a role-play in which the following groups debate what should happen to this land-farmers, native Indians, ecologists, local government officials, and international banks and corporations. (See the resource card.) Your role-play should include a script, present all sides of this issue, and offer a possible plan for the future of this rain forest.

3. Prepare to present your role-play to the class.

Groupwork 5: Individual Report (Student Reproducible)

Clearing the Rain Forests

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

1. What are the best reasons for cutting down rain forests? What groups of people, in general, support cutting down the rain forests? Why?

2. What are the best reasons for preserving rain forests? What groups of people, in general, support protecting the rain forests? Why?

3. Which group in the rain forest conflict do you support? Why?

Groupwork 5: Resource (Student Reproducible)

Clearing the Rain Forests

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

The following groups wish to have a say in the development of the rain forest land.

Farmers, with “western technology” (tractors and other heavy machinery, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides), are waiting to clear the forest so they can farm the land and feed their families.

Native Indians of the Amazon have lived and raised food on this land for centuries; they believe the land is sacred.

Ecologists who study the rain forest know that clearing the land causes the extinction of many species. This loss of diversity could mean the loss of many benefits to humans and the destruction of the entire rain forest ecosystem.

Local Government Officials want to give land and jobs to the thousands of people crowding their cities. This rain forest could help the country make money and payoff some of its debts.

International Banks and Corporations from foreign countries know it is very profitable to build roads and towns deep in the rain forest. That way people can raise cattle and harvest the trees, rubber, and other products of the rain forest.

Groupwork 6: Teacher Activity Notes - Culminating Activity: Earth Day Plan

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

PLAN

Summary Students apply what they have learned in this unit to their own lives.

Multiple Abilities

  • Considering multiple perspectives, logically analyzing the problem, applying previous knowledge (reasoning ability)
  • Reading comprehension and writing (conventional academic ability)
  • Explaining ideas clearly and fully, sharing information (communication ability)

Interdisciplinary Connection

  • Social Studies

Estimated Time 50 minutes

Student Materials

None

IMPLEMENT

  • Encourage students to develop a realistic Earth Day plan. Remind them they will be asked to enact their plan. We suggest the following lesson plan.

Day 1: Arrange students in groups. Ask each group to research the causes of one to several environmental problems examined during the Group Activities. Provide the groups with additional resource materials.

Day 2: Conduct a class discussion. Ask each group to present its research. List the causes of each environmental problem.

Day 3: Arrange students in groups. Ask each group to complete the Culminating Activity described on the GroupWork 6 Activity Guide.

Day 4: Ask students to make any necessary arrangements in preparation for Earth Day.

Day 5: Students enact their Earth Day plan.

Day 6: Conduct a class discussion. Ask students to reflect on their Earth Day experiences. How did the day go? Was it a worthwhile experience? What things would they change if they repeated the activity? Will they make any permanent changes to their daily routine?

Extension Questions

  • What are ways to encourage others in your community, state, or country to be “earth conscious”? Do you think such efforts are worthwhile? Explain.
  • Will you change how you live as a result of completing this activity? Explain.

ASSESS

Use the discussions, individual report, and Earth day plan to assess if students can

  • identify how humans have changed the environment around them.
  • explain how they can make changes in their behaviors to decrease the harm done to the environment.

Groupwork 6: Activity Guide (Student Reproducible)

Culminating Activity: Earth Day Plan

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

In the orientation to the group activities, you were asked the following questions: How do humans affect their environment? More specifically, how do you and the people in your community-your family, friends, and neighbors-affect land, water, air, and other species? The group activities allowed you to begin answering these questions. Now, in the culminating activity, you will attempt to apply what you have learned to your own life.

Procedure

1. Individually, write down your schedule during a typical school day-what you do from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed.

2. Share your schedule with the rest of your group. Did you leave out anything of importance?

3. As a group, discuss the following questions (refer to the class discussion and your own research):

  • Which activities in your schedule harm the environment or other species? How does each do so?
  • Which activities harm the environment but are too difficult to change?
  • Which activities could you change to be more environmentally conscious? Which could you eliminate? What could you do in their place?

4. As a group create an Earth Day plan. In other words, revise your typical school day schedule to make it more environmentally conscious. What would you need to do to enact this plan?

5. Prepare to present your Earth Day plan to the class. In your presentation, include a proposal to the principal of your school for an Earth Day.

Groupwork 6: Individual Report (Student Reproducible)

Culminating Activity: Earth Day Plan

Big Idea: Human Impact on the Environment

1. What are several activities in your daily routine that harm the environment or other species? How do they do so?

2. Which activities in your daily routine harm the environment but are impossible to change? Did you eliminate these activities from your Earth Day routine? Explain.

3. In light of this activity, will you make any permanent changes to your daily routine? Explain.

4. Is it realistic to ask people to change their lives to protect other species and to preserve the environment? Use examples to support your answer.

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