Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Environmental Quality in Our Own Backyard

Daric White


This is a research project designed to increase student and community awareness and participation in local environmental issues.


The student organizes information using appropriate systems.

The student uses volume, stress, pacing, enunciation, eye contact, and gestures that meet the needs of the audience and topic.

The student uses details, illustrations, analogies, and visual aids to make oral presentations that inform, persuade, or entertain.

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).

The student understands the importance of a sense of responsibility, a commitment to peer review, truthful reporting of the methods and outcomes of investigations, and making the public aware of the findings.

The student knows that scientists can bring information, insights, and analytical skills to matters of public concern and help people understand the possible causes and effects of events.


-List of local environmental issues
-Addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses for local, state or regional resource people
-Computer with word processor
-Internet access
-Letters and envelopes for parents and invited guests of the community
-Literature, reference books and resources on local issues
-Access to local media coverage: television, radio, newspaper etc.
-Holt and Arms. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE. 1996 Holt, Rinehart and Winston


1. Obtain a copy of HOLT'S ENVIORNMENTAL SCIENCE to become familiar with using the Environmental Decision-Making Model.
2. Prepare a list of local environmental issues. Students may wish to choose from this list or pick one oF their own.
3. Prepare a list of addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for local or regional resource people. Include government agencies, environmental groups and people directly involved in the issues on the list.
4. Make sure school library has sufficient reference material.


Background: Prior to doing research students should be familiar with making environmental decision making models. Provide students with a theoretical issue and have them reach a decision based on long and short term consequences of the values that relate to the specific issue The Environmental Science book above gives examples on how to use this model
1. Students may work in pairs.
2. Students choose a local environmental issue of interest from the list provided.
3. Students research the issue on their own using as many media resources as possible.
4. Students will be required to contact as many of the parties involved in their particular issue as possible. They may do so by phone, e-mail, letter, or personal interview. This allows students to obtain more than one point of view. Questions to ask during the interview 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?
5. Students will write a final paper that describes their findings. The paper should include the following:
a. A statement describing the issue and the problem.
b. How the issue affects people within the local area.
Do people have different opinions about how the issue can be resolved?
c. What actions are being taken to address the issue.
Students should include their thoughts on what course of action should be taken.
d. An Environmental Decision Making Model.
e. An evaluation of the issue based on the model.
6. Students will present their papers to the class.
7. Students may present their findings to parents and other members of the community.
8. Students can send letters to invite parents, other teachers and students, and members of the community inviting them to their presentations.


1. Final Paper-Rubric ( 30 points for paper)
A. Paper demonstrates the use of a variety of media types as resource tools. These will include the internet, television, newspaper, etc. (10 points)
B. Paper is organized from problem statement through the own interpretation of the decision making model. (10 points)
C. Paper must include the following to demonstrate students' understanding of human influence on the environment. (10 points)
Statement describing the issue
People's opinions on the issue
Actions being taken to address the issue
An Environmental Decision-Making Model
Students' own evaluation of their models
2. Presentation-Rubric (70 points for presentation)
A. Presenter knows the material. (10 points)
B. Audience understands the presentation. (10 points)
C. Presenter makes use of visuals (posters, slides, videos, etc.) (10 points)
D. Presenter makes eye contact with audience. (10 points)
E. Presenter does not read material. (10 points)
F. Presenter speaks so the entire audience can hear. (10 points)
G. Presenter answers questions from the audience. (10 points)
The teacher may want to use a chart or a point system to evaluate paper and presentation.


Students may work independently to get involved or to continue to follow their issue.
Can be used in Political Science, Economics, or Law classes with slight modifications

Web Links

Web supplement for Environmental Quality in Our Own Backyard
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Web supplement for Environmental Quality in Our Own Backyard
Florida Departmental Environmental Protection

Web supplement for Environmental Quality in Our Own Backyard
Center for Informed Decision Making

Web supplement for Environmental Quality in Our Own Backyard
Florida Departmental Environmental Protection

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.