|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
The following four activities focus on investigating urban communities and urban environmental problems. Adapt the activities to fit the needs of your students and community. For additional information about urban issues, you can write to Unesco-UNEP International Environmental Education Programme to request their module on cities.
1. MICRO URBAN INVESTIGATION
EMPHASIS: Community inventory and reporting
TIME: Several days
MATERIALS: Map of the city, poster paper, and local newspapers
OBJECTIVES: List positive environmental qualities of a neighborhood or part of the local community. List negative environmental qualities of the area. Explain verbally how positive and negative aspects of an area affect the rest of the city.
1. Visit a neighborhood or small part of the local community. Inventory the area:a. Determine what kinds of people live in the area. Note signs of children and types of housing (single-family homes, apartments, two-family homes, etc.).
b. Types of businesses, parks, vacant land, construction, etc., in the area.
c. List the positive aspects of the neighborhoods, both physical and visual.
d. List the negative aspects of the environment, physical and visual. Pay attention to traffic congestion, decaying housing, quality of yards and streets, litter, etc.
2. Prepare a presentation or write a full report discussing the living environment of the study area. Consider the following:a. What are the neighborhood's positive and negative aspects?
b. How do the positive aspects affect the rest of the community?
c. How do the negative aspects affect the rest of the community?
d. Which environmental assets have potential for serving as building blocks to improve the livability of this community?
e. What problems exist because of other factors in the community?
f. What environmental problems in this community are related to regional environmental problems?
3. Make charts and drawings of alternative uses of buildings or land in the area. Cut ads designed to sell or rent housing in the community (in the area selected if possible) and create a large collage of the ads for display.
4. Using the report and the visuals, prepare a report of major concerns about the study area. Determine an audience that might be interested in the report. Consider a government agency, a community, or church leaders. Make a presentation to the group to point out environmental improvements that could be made in the study area.
2. BRAINSTORMING ON ENVIRONMENTAL TOPICS
EMPHASIS: Developing alternative solutions
TIME: 30 minutes
MATERIALS: List of brainstorming topics, chart paper, and markers
OBJECTIVES: Generate, in writing, alternatives to a community environmental problem. Evaluate, by discussing with a group, suggested alternatives related to the environmental issue being discussed.
1. Form the class into groups of four or five.
2. Provide each group with a problem area about which to generate alternative solutions.
3. Possible problem areas (appropriate for the local area):a. Urban housing
b. Community recreation facilities and programs
c. Solid waste management (school, community, home)
d. Urban mass transportation
e. Community water quality.
4. Provide each group with chart paper and markers to record the alternatives generated.
5. Give each group 20 minutes to develop alternatives. One member of the group records the alternatives.
6. The recorders of each group share with the other groups their list of alternatives.
7. During the sharing activity additional alternatives can be added to each group's list.
8. Discussion questions:a. How realistic were the alternatives generated by your group to the topic area of discussion?
b. How might the group have functioned more effectively?
c. Were there any new strategies gained by sharing your group's alternatives with the rest of the class?
3. DECIDING IF YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE
EMPHASIS: Values clarification
TIME: 20-30 minutes
MATERIALS: Five chairs or desks
OBJECTIVES: Discuss how different individuals have different ideas about the nature of environmental problems. Discuss how different individuals and agencies have different ideas about the importance of environmental problems and methods of solving them.
1. Arrange five chairs or desks in a row, leaving several feet in between them so as to form four separate areas along a line. These chairs represent positions ranging from agreement to disagreement.
2. Explain to the class that you are going to read several value-related statements for which they are to respond by walking to the area that represents their position on the statements.
3. After each question, have a few students share their reasons for the particular positions.
4. Continue this same procedure for other statements.
5. Let the class or yourself suggest other value statements.
4. THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT AND POOR NEIGHBORHOODS
EMPHASIS: Community exploration and awareness
TIME: Several days
MATERIALS: Map of the metropolitan area (for each student if possible); paper and pencil
OBJECTIVES: Describe, in writing, ways the poorest people in the city are affected by environmental degradation. Discuss problems which result in the poor being ineffective in correcting environmental problems.
1. Get a map of the metropolitan area and mark the location of four undesirable living areas, including areas where industries or other enterprises affect the quality of the environment such as a steel mill, auto plant, sewage treatment plant, etc. The telephone book might assist in finding them.
2. For each area list all the disadvantages of living there, particularly the disadvantages of living close to the industries or plants.
3. For each area determine the type of housing. Indicate whether housing is single, two-family or multiple-family dwellings. You can visit the areas or ask someone familiar with the area.
4. Mark the areas and industries on a large map.
5. Discuss the type of housing and disadvantages of living near each location.
6. Write a paper discussing the following questions:a. Why do people live near industries or other enterprises that might affect the quality of their lives?
b. What economic segment of the population generally lives in the locations identified?
c. What educational level is generally found in this group of people?
d. Why are these people limited in the ways they can improve the quality of their lives?
e. In what ways do these people pay a greater cost than others living farther away from these offending industries?
f. What are some possible ways the quality of life in these areas can be improved?
7. Develop a plan to upgrade one area. Make a presentation on your idea to the class.