Teacher’s Page

Eco- Engineers

Mary Bozenmayer, 2014


Students will research ways that our school community can be more ecologically friendly. They will begin by collecting data from internet resources on strategies to monitor water usage, electricity consumption, heating and cooling, transportation, and garbage/recycling/food waste. They will merge this information with their observations of our school environment, and then they will research ways to improve our school’s impact on the environment. By the end of the activity, the group will collaborate to formulate a reasonable recommendation to the school principal or board of education for a change they think will have the most impact.


Essential Question

How can we improve our school’s impact on the environment?



Students will divide up the duties of research by topic:

-Hydro Engineer (Water Usage)

-Energy Engineer (Electricity Consumption, Heating and Cooling)

-Transport Engineer (Getting To and From School)

-Waste Engineer (Garbage, Recycling, and Food Waste)

Each student will individually:

  • Become knowledgeable about their topic using internet resources given.
  • Report a brief summary to the group that includes facts about school impact in their topic area.
  • Make general observations about what is happening in their school.
  • Research ways to improve our school’s impact.
  • Report to the group their best plan to improve their area of specialty.

Together as a group, students will:

  • share ideas
  • discuss the impact of facts on an audience
  • debate the merits of different recommendations
  • create a informative and persuasive presentation for an adult audience


Performance Objectives

Students will be able to apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.

Students will be able to synthesize information from internet resources and their experience into an informal report for their group.

Students will be able to work collaboratively to generate a persuasive letter, presentation or report to support their ideas.



As a result of this lesson, students will understand the impacts of their everyday activities and actions. The student will have gained an ability to gather and process information from outside sources, and then synthesize that information with personal experiences. Students will also be able to weigh the merits and drawbacks of a variety of strategies green their school and choose the one they feel could be most realistically applied. Students will be able to apply these research and evaluation skills to many other areas of their life, such as choosing which computer to buy or deciding which club to join in high school.


Scaffolding Knowledge

Essential Question: How can we improve our school’s impact on the environment?


Bloom’s Taxonomy

Level Activities
Remembering Find and list facts about the expert’s area of specialty.
Understanding Report research to team members.
Applying Produce a presentation to share research, observations, and recommendations.
Analyzing Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of different team member recommendations.
Evaluating Organize team member contributions into a cohesive presentation.
Creating Select the most appropriate recommendation for referral in presentation.



Multiple Intelligences

Linguistic Debating with and persuading other group members about their recommendation.
Logical-Mathematical  Analyze the facts found and applying them to the situations in their school.
Spatial  In creating ideas and designs to improve the schools, students must assess the layout.
Interpersonal Group project, communicating with group members, teaching others, asking questions.
Intrapersonal  Setting goals for independent work.
Naturalistic Environmental focus of project as a whole.


Learning Styles

Concrete Sequential Using the research forms to log their information as they find it.

Students with this style will excel at working hard independently and efficiently completing the tasks.

Concrete Random  The guided study of each role will suit the CR learner. They will also excel at devising recommendations for improvement in their school.
Abstract Random  Group discussions will benefit the AR learner. Their imaginative nature and ability to reflect on what others are contributing will benefit the group as a whole.
Abstract Sequential  Guided study suits the AS learner. Their logical, analytical nature will allow them to look at the facts, observe their environment, and translate that into ideas that will really contribute to the group’s success.


The Role of Sense and Meaning in Retention

In order for students to retain the core content of this lesson, it is essential that the task has both sense and meaning to them. This project makes sense because it is easy for the learner to understand as it is dealing with a familiar environment (school) and familiar areas (trash, electricity, water, and the school bus he rides on each day.) The student has had experiences with these areas since at least five years of age, so it is familiar and they can easy draw from past experiences and also form an opinion as to the environmental practicality of practices happening around them.

This project has meaning because it is relevant to local and larger global-scale issues. Every student has been exposed in some way to the idea of pollution, environmental ideas, and perhaps even the hot-button topic of human-induced climate change. They will remember what they are doing here because it has direct impacts on their daily activities at school, and for those that are more environmentally sensitive prior to beginning the project, they may be induced to further action beyond the idea phase.



The real-world nature of the problem in this activity motivates students in a way a hypothetical scenario can’t. Finding some shocking facts about the impact of schools on the environment can accelerate this push. Since the topic connects to their life in a very real way on a daily basis, they are motivated to think of ways to improve their school, even if they are not particularly that “green” before beginning the project. Secondly, the jigsaw format of the group work motivates students: due to the reliance of/on each group member to complete the tasks at hand. By requiring students to pass their information on to their peers, an extrinsic force is unleashed that propels them to success.



Standards Addressed

Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment. (MS-ESS3-3)

Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. (MS-ETS1-1)

Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (MS-ETS1-2)

Construct an oral and written argument supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem. (MS-ESS3-4)

All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment. (MS-ESS3-4)

Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (MS-ETS1-2)

8.1.8.A.1 Demonstrate knowledge of a real world problem using digital tools.

8.1.8.A.2 Create a document (e.g. newsletter, reports, personalized learning plan, business letters or flyers) using one or more digital applications to be critiqued by professionals for usability.

8.1.8.A.3 Use and/or develop a simulation that provides an environment to solve a real world problem or theory.

8.1.8.B.1 Synthesize and publish information about a local or global issue or event(ex. telecollaborative project, blog, school web).

8.1.5.F.1 Apply digital tools to collect, organize, and analyze data that support a scientific finding.


Teacher Preparation

Example of student work:   [none yet, but links to student work will be included after I complete this with my classes Spring 2015]

Every student will need access to an internet-accessible device to complete this project. They may also need a bit of “brainstorm” time or a brief tour around the school after their research component in order to mindfully observe potential problems in their school.

Students can print on their own (or, to save paper, teacher can have the two handouts already prepared double-sided for students, the Eco-Engineers Research and Reporting Form and the Team Collaboration Form.


Lesson Outline

Teacher Instructional Process: Focus and Review

  • Open the WebQuest/lesson and project for the whole class to view. Help students through the activity by showing them the navigation, explain parts of the webquest that they will follow. Read them the Introduction prompt, and then discuss their ideas about what they might be asked to do in this project.
  • Open the task page and explain the basic steps (find roles, independent research, report to group, discuss and debate, create presentation.)
  • Open the Process page.
  • Assign the roles
  • Explain the activities to the group as a whole (i.e. as a group, you will…. ) then explain the individual role activities.
  • Reinforce the navigation of the webquest and where to find the rubric because allowing students to begin independent work.

 Guided Practice

During the group activity, prompt students to stay on task, ask them to rephrase the questions posed on their research and collaboration forms, and help facilitate productive discussion and debate amongst group members. .

Independent Practice

During the Individual role activity, students will explore the resources and select information that appeals to them. They will rephrase this information to summarize onto their forms, and also record their sources. Then, they will turn-key this information to their team and engage in a critique of other team member’s information and recommendations.


Students will reflect on the project in a large group discussion. They will share their successes, their challenges, and can also present the project to the rest of the class for “bragging rights.”  The option also exists for students to complete a Peer and Self Reflection form to reflect on the project and each team member’s contributions to the project.

Alternate Outline – Accommodations

If there are students present who require accommodations,

  • Assist student in reading and comprehension of information in resource websites
  • Provide additional copies or a modified form with additional guided prompts