Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Oh Where, Oh Where, Can My Industry Be?

Sue Hutchins


Youth scientists conduct observational studies of three ecosystems. Using the Web World Wonders site cameras, they gather data to justify the establishment of an industrialized park at one site over the others.


The student extends and refines knowledge of ways that human activities may deliberately or inadvertently alter the equilibrium in the ecosystem.


-Transparency of map of Live Links of the Living Florida (from Web World Wonders, click on line -Web Cameras-)
-Printed information of the ecosystems from Web World Wonders (if limited to one or two computers) (click on Ecosystems on the menu to find this information)
-Poster board
-Computers with access to Internet


1. Locate materials for research
2. Make transparency of Florida map
3. Make arrangements for use of library and computer lab
4. Print materials if limited access to network computers
5. Decide on group assignments
6. Bookmark Internet sites


1. Introduce the scenario: The state of Florida, due to population growth, is looking for another nuclear power site. The following areas are being considered: Wakulla Springs, Pidgeon Key, Saw Grass, NASA Kennedy, and Six-Mile Slough.
Place transparency map of Florida on the overhead to show students the areas involved.

2. Each student lists thoughts or things that should be considered when choosing a site for a nuclear power plant.

3. Follow with a class discussion allowing students to share information from their lists . This establishes present student knowledge and leads to presentation of objectives.Direct a discussion so that students categorize statements into groups such as environmental impacts, personal feelings, actual knowledge of site or nuclear power, etc.

a. Student extends and refines knowledge of ways that human activities may deliberately or inadvertently alter the equilibrium of the ecosystem.

b. The student knows that scientists control conditions in order to obtain evidence, but when that is not possible for practical or ethical reasons, they try to observe a wide range of natural occurrences to discern patterns.

4. Inform students that they have been chosen to help decide which site will be the best place for the power plant based on the least amount of ecological impact. At this point teacher and students can discuss what kind of knowledge they would need in order to proceed. The teacher may want to mention possible websites, vocabulary, etc. to help in the search, and the fact that the student will be the scientist who will observe natural conditions that cannot be controlled for practical or ethical reasons.

5. Divide students into two groups per site (5 sites), 3 students per group (based on class of 30).
Use Web World Wonders site to gather background information about each area. Use the cameras to gather visual information about each site. Discuss with students how to categorize their observations,to look for patterns in the natural environment (ie. types of trees, grasses, animals, temperature, humidity, etc.). Discuss with students to be thinking about how a nuclear power plant may impact these patterns.This is also a good time to discuss with the students the rubric that will be used to assess their posters. (See associated file- poster assessment rubric - page 1).

6. Use library materials or Internet to further research ecosystems, nuclear power plants and their impact. If there is limited computer access, pull ecosystem information from Web World Wonders and copy it to hand out to students. Any other background information could be handled in this manner. Also students could rotate through one computer by setting up a schedule for access for each group.

7. Each group then presents their research and observation findings to the class. This can be done by use of posters, presentation template, etc. This presentation allows for all of the students to gain insight into the research and observations of all the sites. (Review the Poster Rubric with students prior to presentations.)

8. After all information has been given, assessed, and discussed, divide the students into new groups with definite interests (ie. environmentalist, engineer, nuclear power plant manager, neighborhood watch group, state government representative). The students are then told to use their knowledge and information that they have learned to support or oppose the power plant site at each location, depending on the groupís interest. Remind the students about the skills of a scientist in looking for patterns, observations and educated guesses as to how the patterns could be disrupted. Also refocus the students on the fact that human activities may deliberately or inadvertently alter the ecosystem equilibrium. The groups may need to do additional research to support their position.

9. Each student writes a paper justifying his choice of site based on knowledge gained from the research, observations, discussions, etc. Remind students of persuasive paper assessment rubric. (see associated file -page 2)

10. Student volunteers share their papers. Discussion will focus on factual supportive details to justify site choice.

11. A vote is taken as to which site would be most ideal for the nuclear power plant. Each student provides the most compelling reason as to why he/she voted for the site.


Use student-generated group posters and the individual persuasive essays as formative assessments. Look for evidence that the student recognizes ways that human activities may deliberately or inadvertently alter the equilibrium of the ecosystem. Use rubrics to assess (see associated file).


Before undertaking this lesson, students need to know:
-scientific method
-how to write a persuasive paper.
-how to use the Internet
-the art of persuasion using facts instead of emotions

Suggestion: If the lesson becomes too overwhelming or if you have a very small class, you may wish to limit the number of web camera sites being considered for nuclear power sites.

Web Links

Web supplement for Oh Where, Oh Where, Can My Industry Be?
Web World Wonders

Attached Files

Page 1 is the Poster Rubric, page 2 is Persuasive Paper Rubric.†††††File Extension: pdf

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