Beacon Lesson Plan Library

All Ears for Ecology

Melicia Charleston


Do industries in your area contribute to pollution? Students research the effects of pollution in their area from an ecological and economic perspective which will be orally presented to the class.


The student knows the ways in which humans today are placing their environmental support systems at risk (e.g., rapid human population growth, environmental degradation, and resource depletion).


-Internet-accessible computer with printer
-Writing Journals
-Access to local media coverage; television, radio, newspaper, etc.
-Community Activist Roles/Scenario (see associated file), 1 copy per student
-Criteria Checklist (see associated file) 1 copy per student


Gather materials for activity
Make copies of the Community Activist Roles, 1 per student
Make copies of the Scenario, 1 per student
Make copies of the Criteria Checklist, l per student
Gather newspaper articles concerning topic of environmental support systems at risk.


Background: Prior to taking a position , students should be familiar with the following made-up environmental issue for United Harvesting Town. Scenario: United Harvesting is a small rural town in south Florida, a migrant and agricultural community. The livelihood of the town depends on the production of sugar cane, citrus, and other farming. Recently, United Harvesting was charged with illegal and improper dumping of waste run-off, and air and water pollution. The community activist group has sued United Harvesting to pay for the damage allegedly caused and the cleanup. Many of the townspeople are scheduled to testify at the court hearing.
Day 1 – Introduction of Lesson
1.Present examples of current issues locally or nationally. For example: Illegal dumping of waste by private construction builders, illegal disposing of hospital waste into the water stream, and illegal and improper dumping of waste run-off, and air and water pollution by local farmers. Examples can be provided by overhead or PowerPoint presentation. Discuss and elicit responses from students on their knowledge of any pollution issues of their industry in their own area from an ecological and economic perspective. Provide review of terminology if necessary.
2.Encourage students to share their knowledge about the impact of ecology issues on a local level.
3.Distribute Community Activist Roles and Scenario (See Associated File)
4. Ask students if they think all the different community roles and scenario are appropriate. You may add additional roles. Briefly discuss their feedback. Give students a chance to choose a role. At this time introduce the criteria checklist. (See Associated File)
5.Students will research their characters (role) by searching the Internet and/or interviewing local community members by phone, e-mail, letter or personal interview. Internet policy for your school district should be followed in allowing student access. Interview questions should include, but are not limited to the following:
a)What is their current position?
b)How long in their current position?
c)What does their current job position entail?
d)Are they aware of any current environmental issues?
e)Do they have any prior experience in dealing with an environmental issue?
6.Record findings in their journals.

Day 2-3 Research – Students will conduct research during class time as well as outside of class. Research should include, but is not limited to: local media coverage, television, radio, newspaper, journals, and Internet

1.In teams (no less than 5) students will take a position on: (1) Improper dumping of waste run-off (2) air pollution or (3) water pollution. Students state which causes the most issues ecologically, as well as economically. Students will take their position based on the Community Activist Role they chose. For example, if the student chose Sammy Smith, Owner of Smith Farms as the character, then they would argue the position from that standpoint. Oral presentations of positions should include, but are not limited to the following.
a)What is the cause of the problem?
b)How long has this problem been going on?
c)What efforts have been taken to fix the problem and by whom?
d)What type of effects has it had on the local people, state, and national level?
e)Describe the issue and problem in great detail.
f)What type of environmental concerns has the issue posed?
g)Who do they feel are responsible and why?
h)Explain how these issues can be prevented with an overall plan.

Day 4-5 Oral Presentations – Students will present their positions within 10 minutes according to the criteria on the checklist.
1. Students will tape/record the case using a VCR/DVD.
2.Encourage students to keep a journal of the oral positions. Students will evaluate the
positions and discuss the ecological issues involved. What did they learn from this exercise? Allow ample time for discussion and feedback.


As a formative assessment, students should be observed presenting evidence gathered during research that supports their awareness that humans are placing environmental support systems at risk. Formative feedback from the teacher should be given at the end of all the presentations. It would be a good idea to keep notes for each speaker/participant and then use the notes for feedback.


This lesson can be utilized in a political science, writing, or law class. As a follow up or continuation,
set the scene/stage and instruct students to conduct a “mock” trail/court case. Students (jury) will decide who shall pay for the clean up. Students will tape/record the case. Encourage students to keep a journal of the events throughout the trial. Students will evaluate the mock trial activity, discuss the ecological issues involved in this case, and write a final report/essay. What did they learn form this exercise? Allow ample time for discussion and feedback.

Web Links

Web supplement for All Ears for Ecology
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Web supplement for All Ears for Ecology
Florida Department Environmental Protection

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