DRAFT: July 20, 2016
SCAPE (Sustainable Communities and Place-based Education)
SCAPE is a pilot high school and community-based science education project combining online learning and field observations linked to “living classrooms” across the Colorado River (CR) Basin. The program builds on EPA recognized environmental education (EE) curriculum design guidelines (e.g., Simmons et al, 2004) and workshops (Vital Signs, 2012), and provides opportunities for science teachers to learn both the science of water quality and best practices for EE. SCAPE trained teachers will introduce students to the hydrology of the CR System, methods for measuring in-stream flow, and techniques for testing water quality. The program will provide specific training in EE pedagogy as related to real-world problems—in particular, water quality and supply—and will give our partner high school teachers the tools and methods to move from knowledge to action.
Overview of the Curriculum
Unit 1: Pre-Field Work. In class, students will engage readings in environmental history, policy, and ethics, with special emphasis on the CR. They will use pre-defined SCAPE maps to investigate a stretch of river near their school and use the SCAPE custom interface (text mark-ups, points, and polygons) for their living classroom. Students will develop hypotheses regarding water quality above and below their chosen site, and use local sources (photographs, oral histories, data from local water boards or USGS databases) to understand historical flows, key water quality parameters, and uses of the river. Household water use logs will help students quantify personal use and identify the pollutants they discharge. Students will create a model of how individual water use contributes to community and regional water use, and utilize the model to demonstrate how individual actions may affect the regional water supply.
Unit 2: Field Work. On their river site, students will make observations, measure water flow, measure chemical and physical water quality, and survey biological indicators (microorganisms and macro-invertebrates) of water quality at sites above and below their hypothesized source of pollution, as developed with online maps. With the help of trained teachers, students will conduct standard water quality measurements using both traditional and digital instruments to evaluate basic water quality parameters (e.g., temperature, salinity, water clarity, and pH, as well as chemical species such as dissolved oxygen and nitrates).
Unit 3: Post-Field Work. All water quality data, photos of identified insects and water samples, hand-drawn illustrations, and field notes will be uploaded to the SCAPE website via custom forms. This data will be automatically translated into Google Spreadsheets and posted to a secure website. Measurements and observations will be verified by water quality and bio-indicator specialists from ASU. Once the data is verified, students will use Google fusion tables to assemble a spreadsheet indicating accurate geo-coordinates, water quality, flow, and observed organisms. From these tables, they will create their own hyperlinked Google map to visualize the data. They will then compare and evaluate the data and identify pollution sources from their sites and those from other living classrooms.
Unit 4: System-wide Impacts. By looking at all of the living classrooms across the CR Basin, students will develop an understanding of system-wide river water quality, security, and supply issues—our shared commons. Each school will decide on an action to take, such as planning a water-related stewardship project with a local farmer, agriculture specialist, natural resource professional or member of the community, and will post their solutions and report their progress on the customized “cloud” website developed specifically for SCAPE.
These materials have been developed to connect with students and teachers both broadly and deeply. Information and skillsets important to understanding the Colorado River as a whole—as a system—are paired with objectives that address the particulars of different reaches of the Colorado. While all students will engage foundational issues such as history, hydrology, water chemistry, riparian ecology, etc., partner schools will also receive custom-tailored curricular materials that address the issues most pertinent to their “backyard.”
These materials target students in grades 9 – 12. Many activities require no prior experience. A select number of lessons focus on water chemistry and other skillsets that require prior knowledge in specific STEM skills (e.g., chemistry, math).
The project team recommends the use of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for evaluation of curricular objectives and the assessment of student learning/behavioral outcomes (NGSS Lead States, 2013). While NGSS has not been universally adopted by all States, it represents the most comprehensive and universally accepted standards currently in use by science educators.
Integration with Existing Curricula
How do these materials complement, integrate, substitute for existing environmental ed course materials?
Activity Format (viz., Howe & Howe, 2005. This format borrows from Discover a Watershed: The Colorado, pp. XII – XIII)
A brief description of the concepts and skills learned during the activity.
The qualities or skills students should possess after participating in the activity. NOTE: Both learning and behavioral objectives are addressed.
Supplies needed to conduct the activity. NOTE: Each SCAPE partner school will be provided with the necessary equipment and supplies to successfully present a given activity to the students.
Preparatory information for the educator about activity concepts or teaching strategies.
Prepares everyone for the activity and introduces concepts to be addressed. Provides the instructor with pre-assessment strategies.
Provides step-by-step directions to address concepts. NOTE: Some activities are organized into “parts.” This divides extensive activities into logical segments. All or some of the parts may be used, depending on the objectives of instruction. In addition, a few activities provide “options.” These consist of alternative methods for conducting the activity.
Brings closure to the lesson and includes questions and activities to assess student learning.
Presents diverse assessment strategies that relate to the objectives of the activity, noting the part of the activity during which each assessment occurs. Often suggests ideas for assessment opportunities that follow the activity.
Provides additional activities for continued investigation into concepts addressed in the activity. Extensions can also be used for further assessment.
Lists references providing additional background information. NOTE: This is a limited list. Several titles are suggested, but many other resources on similar topics will serve equally well.
Provides links to Web sites with relevant information for further study.