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Floating Garden Challenge

Secondary

Description

As a result of climate change there is more rain in Bangladesh than ever before. Land where farmers used to grow their crops is now flooded on a regular basis. The result is families go hungry. This STEM lesson plan challenges students to design and build a model structure that will enable farmers to grow crops even in an area that may become flooded.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students have an opportunity to test those skills associated with creative thinking, developing and testing hypothesis, working with others, making presentations.

Strengths

The activity introduces students to a real world issue through a hands on activity; encourages creative and critical thinking; and reflects the strength of STEM resources.

The resource is self contained, providing teachers and students with all the necessary support materials. 

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The resource may be used as part of a larger study of the effects of climate change and more specifically as an illustration of what might be done to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 11
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        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
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        • Specialized Science 12: Climate change impacts biodiversity and ecosystem health
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        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.
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        • Geographic Issues of the 21 st Century: Food from the Land
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        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Food Supply: Production and Distribution
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        • Environmental Science 11: Human practices affect the sustainability of ecosystems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Specialized Science 12: Climate change impacts biodiversity and ecosystem health
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Economics (1)

    • Poverty Reduction
  • Food & Agriculture (1)

    • Food Security
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Rural Issues

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Within the parameters of the lesson, each group of students develops their response to the challenge presented - how to grow crops in an environment that experiences frequent flooding. Once completed, the students are introduced to solutions that have been adopted by the organization, Practical Action.  

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

In responding to the challenge proposed by the lesson, students are made aware of the environmental component of the issue (climate change and more frequent flooding), the economic consequences (loss of food production), and the social implications (hunger, poverty, health)   

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The lesson has students investigate a particular solution to a real life problem - flooding and food production. Teachers may have students drill down deeper by investigating the larger issue of climate change, the vulnerability of the developing world to the consequences of climate change, and the various steps that may be take to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Very Good

Student action is central to the lesson. They are required to build a model of a floating garden and asked to consider developing a floating garden for a school pond. Other practical actions are suggested at the accompanying website.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

The lesson helps students realize how the actions of the developed world have consequences for the people in the developing world and the obligations that follows from that realization.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

The lesson draws student's attention to those who are the "victims" of climate change - the farmers of Bangladesh- but not the authors. In doing so, it may be expected to create a sense of empathy for those farmers and the students are further invited to act on that empathy with practical action - creation of and support for floating gardens. 

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

Students are made aware of the effect of our actions on the natural world - climate change and flooding of agricultural land - and how we might respond to those changes in the natural environment with technology that is both imaginative and non-intrusive.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

Climate change is both a global and a local issue. This particular lesson has students focus on the effects of climate change on farmers in Bangladesh. Teachers may choose, however, to have students move from this case study to an examination of the effects of climate change on local agriculture.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

Students learn how traditional agricultural practices are threatened by the effects of today's climate change and how we might adopt future practices to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students are presented with a challenge - How might crops be grown in an area that is subject to increased flooding because of climate change? Students are then introduced to the concept of floating gardens and asked to incorporate the idea in a design of their creation. Students exercise their ingenuity and imagination within the limits set out. 

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good

The lesson reflects the strength of STEM projects in that consideration is given to science, technology, engineering and mathematics in meeting the challenge.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The students are presented with a problem - how to grow crops in a flood prone setting - and, with some direction, are asked to create "floating gardens" as a possible solution. Working in teams, the students experiment with designs that will be judged by the amount of weight each is able to sustain. 

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

Students are introduced to the issue by examining a set of picture cards and by responding to a Power Point presentation. Students experiment with different models to test their effectiveness as floating gardens, present their best efforts to others and discuss and evaluate the efforts of their classmates.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

The floating gardens models that students design (simulation) are intended to mimic those built by Practical Action to support farmers in flooded zones (real world context)

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

Students work in teams throughout the activity to identify the issues in terms of cause and effect, design a possible solution that will mitigate the effects, evaluate the efforts of their classmates, and promote a wider awareness of the issue.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Students are provided with group design sheets that may be used to evaluate their efforts in responding to the problem presented. Their designs are then "tested" , providing a concrete evaluation of their designs, and other students use an Evaluating sheet to record their assessment of each groups efforts. 

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Very Good

Each student group must prepare and present their model floating garden to their classmates. The discussion and evaluation that follows will be instructive for all students.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

The floating gardens designed by students are intended to make students aware of the difficulties faced by farmers in flood prone regions of the world. Following the activity, students are made aware of representative case studies of floating gardens that Practical Action has designed and built to assist farmers.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

The issue is introduced by the teacher and some preliminary direction is given to the students as how they might respond. Once the stage is set, the students proceed to design their unique "solution".  

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.