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High School Environmental Science Instructional Sequences

Developed during summer 2017, these high school environmental science instructional sequences were created to support teaching NGSS through the 5E instructional model. Developed by District of Columbia teachers, these lessons include real-world contexts for learning about environmental science through a lens that encourages student investigation of local issues.

The lessons also support Scope and Sequence documents used by District local education agencies.

The Carbon Cycle: Students will go into depth via investigations about what processes drive the carbon cycle and calculate their carbon footprint. Students calculate ways to deduct their carbon footprint and trace carbon interaction throughout a typical school day.

Deforestation: Students will investigate the causes and effects of deforestation, locally and around the world, and explain ecosystem services that trees can provide. Students will construct a proposal for tree planting on school groups or in their community.

Contamination of Fish in the Anacostia River: Students will identify consequences associated with the contaminants found in the Anacostia River sediment, namely, the effect that contaminated fish has on community health.

Macroinvertebrates: Students will compare and contrast macroinvertebrates present in two separate stream sites. Using real data, students will draft a stream site report card.

Plastic Bottles in the Watershed: Students investigate the impact of solid waste on the local watershed and the larger ocean ecosystem by gathering evidence to specify the sources of plastics pollution in their own communities and develop solutions to the problem.

Runoff in the Watershed: Students investigate the impact of stormwater runoff on the local watershed and develop mitigation strategies to minimize the negative impacts of runoff through a survey of their local school environment to gather data on how the school campus affects runoff.

Interactions and Stewardship of the Watershed: Students will survey of their schoolyard, conduct research on the history of, and current issues with the Anacostia and Potomac River watersheds, and create a model to investigate water runoff patterns for various surfaces. Students will develop an appropriate action plan to maintain and regularly test the quality of water runoff at storm drains adjacent to the campus.

Water Quality and Wastewater Management: Students investigating the problem of cultural eutrophication by testing water samples for their ability to transmit light and research the consequences of algal blooms. To address solutions to the problem, students model the wastewater treatment process and monitor the water’s improvement as it moves through the system.