Unit Rationale

Green Carlsbad: A Unit Rationale

Green Carlsbad is a theme designed to increase the students' awareness of their own impact on the environment and how they can take steps to improve the natural resources both here in Carlsbad and around the world. Students will learn how our actions impact the environment in ways that both help and hurt the environment. Green Carlsbad offers the students an opportunity to reconnect with their local environment and observe human effects on natural ecosystems, as well as deepen their understanding of where materials (metals and plastic) come from and how they are made, used, and disposed. They will learn that everyone needs to take ownership in protecting the environment and preserving our Earth for future generations.

By focusing on their community environmental issues, they will be able to see the relevance of environmental conservation in their daily lives. As part of this ITU, the students will participate in one of several environmental clean-up activities within the Carlsbad community. Through this work, the students will be become empowered, active citizens as they learn, practice and reflect on their work.

This thematic unit will provide the students with opportunities to use their technology skills to raise awareness and propagate positive change in their local community. The students will be incorporating technology by creating a one to five minute reflective group video on their service work, which may be broadcast on CHSTV, Carlsbad High Schools award wining broadcast operation. They will also be using the internet to perform research on the local ecosystems, recycling, and the use of natural resources. Powerpoint or Prezi presentations on their research findings will be incorporated into their assignments for two of their classes.

The unit will be integrated across four interdisciplinary subjects: chemistry, statistics, marine science, and English. Students will apply their knowledge of chemistry to real-world resource economics by researching and reporting on a specific natural resource (plastics and metals) and examine the cradle-to-grave processes of extracting, refining, and recycling or disposing of these materials, focusing on the chemical nature of each process. Additionally, the students will apply this information to statistically analyze the current trends in the use of raw materials and the benefits of recycling.  Students will learn about the ecology of the local lagoons and how human influence has affected the lagoon by researching and reporting on how man has influenced the lagoon ecosystem. And, students will focus on the role that literacy and critical thinking play in learning about their community by reading and responding to poems about nature and using the writing process to reflect on their service learning.

Enduring Understandings

1.     Students will understand the “cradle to grave” history of metals and plastics, the energy requirements necessary for producing metals, the chemical processes surrounding plastic production, and the issues surrounding the extraction of natural resources.
2.     Students will understand that natural resources, no matter how abundant they seem, are scarce and finite.
3.  Students will understand the environmental impacts of producing waste.
4.  Students will understand the economic impact of producing waste.
5.     Students will understand that ecosystems undergo major changes as a result of such factors as climate change, introduction of new species, and habitat destruction. These can be the result of natural processes and/ or human impact.
6.     Students will understand that people manage the Earth and its resources by preservation, conservation, appropriate utilization, and restoration. The complexity and interaction of these ecosystems requires individual and collaborative efforts on a local, regional, national, and international scale.
7.     Students will understand that part of becoming a “green” citizen entails literacy and critical thinking skills in order to make informed decisions. They will also understand that citizens hold great power in shaping their communities.

Essential Questions

     What constitutes a “green” citizen? Why is being a “green” citizen important?
     How do our choices as consumers and waste producers affect our environment?
     Where do natural resources come from? How are they gathered?
     How does our use of natural resources impact the quality of the environment?
     Why is recycling important?
     What can be learned from collecting and analyzing trash from local environments?
•   What should the government do to help curb the act of littering in our community?
     How have human activities affected our local ecosystems?
     Why is preserving a local lagoon important? What would happen if we let them degrade?
     How can using statistical analysis help us make decisions regarding our environment?
     What role does literacy play in the process of becoming a “green” citizen? How does being a "green" citizen affect our community?
     How is nature represented in the literature of classic and contemporary poets?

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