Unit

Steward-shed Investigation

Grade

6-8th

Class Periods

5

Setting

Classroom

Subject Areas

Science, Math, Social Studies, ELA


Summary

The class divides work on two different parts of a proposal for their steward-shed: 1. One way to reduce pollution 2. One place to reduce runoff.  Students identify and interview stakeholders in their community, evaluate multiple approaches, and ultimately present their proposals to local stakeholders and decision-makers.


Objectives

  • Identify stakeholders within their steward-shed.

  • Assess stakeholders’ concerns.

  • Evaluate multiple approaches to reducing pollution and/or runoff.

  • Propose one approach for their steward-shed.

  • Present it to stakeholders and eventually decision-makers.


Before you get started

Preparation

  1. You need to have a defined “steward-shed” (see the BOP lesson Steward-shed Investigation Part 1 - Paper Watersheds).  It’s very helpful if your students have already explored the sources of pollution and the runoff characteristics of their steward-shed (Steward-shed Investigation Parts 2 through 8).

  2. Think about how you want your RUNOFF teams to learn about currently popular Green Infrastructure designs, if at all.  These are some materials you could give them, all published by organizations that promote this kind of intervention:

  1. One advantage of introducing this material is that your students may become familiar with vocabulary like “bioswale” and “green roof.”

  2. An alternative would be to see what solutions students come up with.  It’s likely they will think of more familiar elements like parks, gardens, and even flower pots.  One advantage of that approach is that your students are likely to encounter the social implications of green infrastructure in starker contrast.  

    • For example, it’s easy to propose a new park, and difficult to decide what can be torn down to make way for that park.  It’s useful for students to grapple with that conflict.

    • By contrast, green infrastructure can give the illusion of ‘having it all’.  The social conflicts around green infrastructure are very real, but much harder for students to identify without much more in-depth research.

  • If you decide to give the additional readings to the RUNOFF teams, consider ways to provide productive tasks for POLLUTION teams that may complete their tasks more quickly.  One option is to give everyone the additional readings.


Background

Lesson Context

Per the EPA’s publication, “Engaging Stakeholders in Your Watershed”:

“A stakeholder is a person (or group) who is responsible for making or implementing a management action, who will be significantly affected by the action, or who can aid or prevent its implementation….


“Stakeholder involvement in watershed issues has gained momentum in recent years because of the nature of water quality problems in our country. Forty years ago, most water quality problems were linked to discharges from factories and wastewater treatment plants. Today, however, about 40 percent of our nation’s waters do not meet their water quality goals because of runoff from streets, farms, mines, yards, parking lots and other nonpoint sources of pollution. Solving these problems requires the commitment and participation of stakeholders throughout our communities.


“Stakeholder involvement is more than just holding a public hearing or seeking public comment on a new regulation. Effective stakeholder involvement provides a method for identifying public concerns and values, developing consensus among affected parties, and producing efficient and effective solutions through an open, inclusive process....


“Stakeholders might be aware of localized flooding, old dump sites, popular recreational areas, and other aspects of the watershed not captured in monitoring or other reports. They can also help to identify social and environmental concerns in the watershed….”

https://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/files/stakeholderguide.pdf

The absolute necessity of effective stakeholder engagement is particularly clear in settings where Environmental Gentrification stands to undermine Environmental Justice.  This is a live issue in NYC right now.  Here are two good introductory articles based on local research:

And a few scholarly articles reporting original NYC research:


Instruction Plan

Engage

  1. Students revisit the watershed model with pollution added from the earlier lesson, Steward-shed Investigation Part 5 - Add Pollution to Your Steward-shed Model.

  2. Play with reducing the amount of runoff, either by adding less water, or by replacing a less permeable part with a more permeable part.

    • Play with reducing the amount of pollution into the drainage basin by reducing different types of pollution in different parts of the model.

  • Point out: “these are two different approaches to improving the water quality:  1. Reducing runoff, and 2. Reducing pollution.”  

  • Tell students they will work for several days on one or the other project, and find out their preferences so you can split the class into two sets of small teams:  RUNOFF teams and POLLUTION teams.

  • The RUNOFF teams revisit their maps, models, and notes from field expeditions, to help them brainstorm possibilities in response to: “Where is the best place for us to reduce runoff in our steward-shed?”

    • Teams list pros and cons of the different ideas they have.

    • Teams list questions that have come up in the process.

  • Optional (see “Preparation” section, above): RUNOFF teams also learn about some of the more common approaches to building Green Infrastructure, by consulting your selection from the following publications, all of which were produced by institutions in an effort to highlight their successes and make themselves look good.  

  • Meanwhile, the POLLUTION teams revisit their maps, models, and notes from field expeditions, to help them brainstorm possibilities in response to: “What kind or source of pollution should we reduce in our steward-shed?”

    • Teams list pros and cons of the different ideas they have.

    • Teams list questions that have come up in the process.

  • Each RUNOFF team presents their work so far to one POLLUTION team, and vice versa.  

  • Each team meets once more on its own, to prepare an initial plan to submit to the teacher:

    • RUNOFF teams submit a specific location in their steward-shed.  Eventually they will create a specific plan to reduce runoff in that location.

    • POLLUTION teams submit a specific type and source of pollution.  Eventually they will propose a specific plan for reducing that kind of pollution in their steward-shed.


This would be a good time to break until the next class.


Explore

  1. As a full class, students close-read and discuss the meaning of the following text from the EPA’s publication “Involving Stakeholders in Your Watershed”:

    “A stakeholder is a person (or group) who is responsible for making or implementing a management action, who will be significantly affected by the action, or who can aid or prevent its implementation….

    “Stakeholder involvement is more than just holding a public hearing or seeking public comment on a new regulation. Effective stakeholder involvement provides a method for identifying public concerns and values, developing consensus among affected parties, and producing efficient and effective solutions through an open, inclusive process.”

    • This would be a good time to ask students to share their experiences and observations about stakeholders, and about how groups make decisions. For instance, “Have you seen one person make a decision that affects other people, and the decision-maker didn’t think ahead about how their decision would affect those other people?”  and “Have you seen a group of people make a decision for themselves, together?  How did they do that?”  and so on.

    • Individually, students ‘translate’ the EPA text into everyday language.

  2. Students begin their research on stakeholders, using the “Resources to Research Stakeholders” section of “Our Steward-shed” Library of Resources

This would be a good time to break until the next class.


  1. Students read How shall we gather information about our steward-shed stakeholders?

    • Each team selects one method of getting information from a lot of people, and one method of targeting specific people.  (This could also be split up by team.  For instance one of the, POLLUTION teams could work on surveying a lot of people, and a separate POLLUTION team could work on targeting specific people).

  2. Each team consider their proposal and what they already know about their stakeholders, in order to drafts a set of questions, a survey, or other appropriate instrument for gathering information about their stakeholders.

    • Teams present their instruments to one another, for feedback and revision.

This would be a good time to break until the next class.  Meanwhile, you can make arrangements for students to go outside and collect data.


  1. Teams survey and/or interview stakeholders to gather that information they wanted.

This would be a good time to break until the next class.


Explain

  1. Teams discuss both the process and the content of what they found.  For example, they can discuss things like:

    • Barriers to communication

    • Barriers to adopting the team’s steward-shed proposal

    • Opportunities for communication

    • Opportunities to get support for the team’s steward-shed proposal

    • perspectives that are very different from those of the team members

    • Perspectives that are similar to those of some of the team members

  2. Teams write up summary of what they learned about:

    • Their stakeholders

    • Their stakeholders’ interests, needs, desires, concerns.


Elaborate

Teams complete How shall we evaluate our steward-shed proposals?


Evaluate

  1. Paired teams evaluate each other’s proposals based on their own criteria.

  2. Each team makes the proposal they think is best for their place and their stakeholders.  Tell your students:  “Your proposal doesn’t have to make everyone happy, but you do have to take all your stakeholders into account, and you do have to consider many different ways that your proposal can affect the people and the place.”


Extend

  1. Students share their steward-shed proposals with stakeholders for revision.

  2. Class debriefs, and decides what to do next.




Standards

NGSS - Cross-Cutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect

    • Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.
    • Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural systems.
  • Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

    • All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment.
    • The uses of technologies and any limitation on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. Thus technology use varies from region to region and over time.
  • Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

    • Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.
  • Science Addresses Questions About the Natural and Material World

    • Scientific knowledge can describe the consequences of actions but does not necessarily prescribe the decisions that society takes
  • Structure and Function

    • Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the relationships among its parts, therefore complex natural structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function.
    • Structures can be designed to serve particular functions by taking into account properties of different materials, and how materials can be shaped and used.
    • Structures can be designed to serve particular functions.
  • Systems and System Models

    • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions.
    • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy and matter flows within systems.
    • Systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems.

NGSS - Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • ESS2.C: The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes

    • Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land.
    • Water’s movements—both on the land and underground—cause weathering and erosion, which change the land’s surface features and create underground formations.
  • ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

    • Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things.
  • ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

    • The more precisely a design task’s criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. Specification of constraints includes consideration of scientific principles and other relevant knowledge that are likely to limit possible solutions.
  • ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

    • A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it.
  • ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

    • Although one design may not perform the best across all tests, identifying the characteristics of the design that performed the best in each test can provide useful information for the redesign process - that is, some of the characteristics may be incorporated into the new design. (secondary)
    • Although one design may not perform the best across all tests, identifying the characteristics of the design that performed the best in each test can provide useful information for the redesign process—that is, some of those characteristics may be incorporated into the new design.
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

    • Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.

NGSS - Science and Engineering Practices

  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems

    • Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles.
    • Define a design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process or system and includes multiple criteria and constraints, including scientific knowledge that may limit possible solutions.
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

    • Undertake a design project, engaging in the design cycle, to construct and/or implement a solution that meets specific design criteria and constraints.
  • Developing and Using Models

    • Develop a model to describe unobservable mechanisms
    • Develop a model to generate data to test ideas about designed systems, including those representing inputs and outputs.
    • Develop a model to predict and/or describe phenomena
  • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

    • Gather, read, and synthesize information from multiple appropriate sources and assess the credibility, accuracy, and possible bias of each publication and methods used, and describe how they are supported or not supported by evidence.

NYC Science Scope & Sequence - Units

  • Grade 6, Unit 2

    • Weather and Atmosphere
  • Grade 6, Unit 4

    • Interdependence
  • Grade 7, Unit 1

    • Geology
  • Grade 8, Unit 4

    • Humans and the Environment: Needs and Tradeoffs