Using the framework of a homestay in Berlin, students will explore how residents of Berlin are meeting sustainability goals for land management, air quality, and climate neutrality through small changes in consumer habits and urban planning. Through the homestay storyline, students will engage in explorations of food-packaging waste, urban gardening and sustainable land development, and waste disposal. During each of the three explorations, students will evaluate the science behind solutions to the problems associated with human impacts on the environment and apply scientific problem solving to design methods for minimizing human impact in their own community.
“Sustainability means only cutting down as much timber as can grow again. It means, living from the yield and not from the substance. In terms of society it means each generation must resolve the challenges facing it rather than passing them on to the generations to come” (Federal Government, n.d.).
Welcome to BerlinThis short exploration serves as an introduction to sustainability. If this is the first exposure to the concept of sustainability, The Fish Game is recommended as a starting activity.
Guiding Question: What is sustainability?
Activity: Students will work collaboratively to find examples of individual sustainability actions taken by the Graf family.
Exploration 1. Food PackagingFood and household product packaging requires renewable and nonrenewable resources for package production and distribution. In addition to resource consumption, the process of making packing materials may have an impact on the environment (e.g., waste, water consumption, air pollution, and use of nonrenewable energy resources). Most packaging materials become waste that may further impact the environment as litter, landfill, or water contaminants. Students will explore one solution to the packaging problem. If possible, they will construct physical examples of packaging, which will increase the students’ understanding and motivation.
Guiding Question: How can reduction of food-packaging waste improve sustainability?
Activity: Students will design a dispenser prototype for a packaged grocery product.
Exploration 2. Urban Gardens and Space ManagementFood doesn’t grow in the supermarket. Both fresh and processed foods require transportation from farm to processing plant to consumer. Locally sourced food reduces some transportation impact on the environment.
Guiding Questions: How does urban gardening support sustainability?
How does urban development impact biodiversity?
Activity: Students will design a garden for their school.
Exploration 3. Waste ManagementDaily human activity produces waste. Although zero waste is the ultimate sustainability goal, recycling, reuse, and reduction are three strategies for addressing the human impact of waste disposal on the environment. Students will explore waste management strategies in Berlin and the global impact of waste management.
Guiding Question: How is waste recycled?
Activity: They will develop three possible solutions to a waste management problem in their school.
Introduction. Welcome to Berlin (2 periods)
Exploration 1. Food Packaging (5 periods)
Exploration 2. Urban Gardens and Open Space Management (5 periods)
Exploration 3. Waste Management (5 periods)
Digital or paper copy of the Chart of Berlin’s Sustainability Goals
Exploration 1. Design a Dispenser
Recycling bin items that can be used to construct a dispenser prototype
Digital platform of your preference (e.g., Flipgrid, Seesaw)
Optional: Items to set up a mini Original Unverpackt (OU): glass jars, shipping cartons, labels, scale, bottles, and items to weigh like beans, rice, liquids, etc.
Exploration 2. Design a School Garden
Graph paper for garden designs
Optional: any digital platform you would like them to use to design their garden
Exploration 3. Waste Management
(Access to school recycling)
MS-ESSS-3. Earth and Human Activity
Key Literacy Connections:
Relevant Domain(s) of Disciplinary Core Ideas:
ESS3.C. Human Impacts on Earth Systems
Science and Engineering Practices:
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
Cause and Effect: Relationships can be classified as causal or correlational, and correlation does not necessarily imply causation.
- Cite examples of how daily human activity impacts the environment.
- Explain the difference between cause and effect and correlation.
- Propose actions that minimize impact of human activity on the environment.
- Describe how the effectiveness of a solution to a problem can be monitored.
- Identify examples of sustainable practices used in waste management.
- Research and evaluate the effectiveness of waste management in their local community.
- Identify a waste management problem in their school, home, or community.
How can individual actions, industry actions, and government actions increase sustainability?
Students can share their answers by creating a handbook, a slide show, or a short film to their class or their school.
Next Generation Science Standards. (n.d.). MS-ESS3 Earth and Human Activity. Retrieved from https://www.nextgenscience.org/dci-arrangement/ms-ess3-earth-and-human-activity
National Science Teaching Association. (2014). Disciplinary Core Ideas. Retrieved from https://ngss.nsta.org/DisciplinaryCoreIdeasTop.aspx
National Science Teaching Association. (2014). Science and Engineering Practices. Retrieved from https://ngss.nsta.org/Practices.aspx?id=6
The Federal Government. (n.d.). Sustainability, Germany’s National Sustainability Policy. Retrieved from http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/EN/StatischeSeiten/Schwerpunkte/Nachhaltigkeit/2016-07-27-die-nationale-nachhaltigkeitsstrategie_en.html?nn=393722