Global Urban ExplosionGrades 6-8 Geography, Environment/Nature, Society, Science/Technology
This lesson examines the environment impact of urban development around the world. By the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to (1) describe the environmental problems, specifically air and water pollution, created by the rapid development of urban areas; (2) identify some solutions for dealing with problems caused by uncontrolled urbanization; and (3) explain the importance of urban development plans in dealing with cities’ environmental problems.
|Title:||Global Urban Explosion|
|Author:||Gioya De Souza-Fennelly|
|Subject Area:||Environmental Science|
|Time Required:||Five 50-minute class sessions|
|Standards:||National Science Education Standards: Grades 5-8|
|Keywords/Vocabulary:||1. ecosystem – the community of plants and animals interacting with one another and the environment
2. infrastructure – the foundation on which economic development is based, including the transportation, communication, electrical, and water supply systems of a community, city, or nation
3. mega-city – a city with a population in excess of ten million people
4. pollution – the contamination of soil, water, or the air by the discharge of harmful substances
5. rapid transit system – mass transportation which enables people to move farther and faster through a city
6. refugee – a person who flees usually to another country to escape oppression or persecution
7. sewage – liquid and solid waste usually carried off in sewers or drains
8. smog – fog that has become mixed and polluted with smoke
9. sustainability – the ability to maintain or keep from collapsing
10. toxic – poisonous, capable of causing injury or death, especially by chemical means
11. urbanization – growth in the portion of a population living in areas of more than 2,500 people
12. urban sprawl– the unplanned, uncontrolled spreading of urban development into areas adjoining the edge of a city
13. water treatment plant – facility for the chemical treatment and recycling of water
|Essential Question(s):||Every day of the year, tens of thousands of people move to the world’s burgeoning cities in search of a better life. Instead they find sprawling slums, massive traffic jams, chronic unemployment, regular failure of electrical and water services, strained educational and recreational facilities, and skyrocketing fuel and food costs. The uncontrolled development of the world’s major cities has led to a series of problems — air pollution, water pollution, waste disposal, housing shortages, and loss of farmland.What are global governments doing to address these issues in a sustainable way?|
|Learning Objectives/Goals/Aims:||Students will be able to:
|Introduction:||As the 21st century dawns, the question is how to balance economic growth with the health of Earth’s large metropolitan cities. How do these cities shelter and sustain their residents without destroying the delicate balance of the environment? The four mega-cities (cities with populations of over ten million people) profiled in the video segments are Mexico City, Shanghai, Istanbul, and New York City. Through the segments and the activities found at the end of this lesson, students will learn more about the problems facing the world’s mega-cities, possible solutions to those problems, and the need for sustainable urban planning.|
|Procedure/Pedagogical Technique/Instructional Strategy:||This is the video students will view: http://www.pbs.org/journeytoplanetearth/about/urbanexplosion.html
Note: The teacher will need to take some time to introduce and discuss the concepts and vocabulary with the students before proceeding with the rest of the lesson.
1.To familiarize students with the cities profiled in the program segments, use a wall map, desk map, or an atlas, and have students locate:
After students have located the cities, begin a discussion on what they already know about each of these places. Ask them to talk about what kinds of environmental problems large cities like these might face.
2. Introduce the following key terms to the students:
ecosystem – the community of plants and animals interacting with one another and the environment
infrastructure – the foundation on which economic development is based, including the transportation, communication, electrical, and water supply systems of a community, city, or nation
mega-city – a city with a population in excess of ten million people
pollution – the contamination of soil, water, or the air by the discharge of harmful substances
rapid transit system – mass transportation which enables people to move farther and faster through a city
refugee – a person who flees usually to another country to escape oppression or persecution
sewage – liquid and solid waste usually carried off in sewers or drains
smog – fog that has become mixed and polluted with smoke
sustainability – the ability to maintain or keep from collapsing
toxic – poisonous, capable of causing injury or death, especially by chemical means
urbanization – growth in the portion of a population living in areas of more than 2,500 people
urban sprawl– the unplanned, uncontrolled spreading of urban development into areas adjoining the edge of a city
water treatment plant – facility for the chemical treatment and recycling of water
3. Have students discuss examples of water or air pollution in their own community and what is being done to overcome these difficulties.
4. Have students discuss whether their community has a plan for expansion.
5. If students are in rural communities, discuss how they have been affected by the urban explosion — people leaving the farms; farm closings; young people leaving the community; and store closings in their town.
Focus for Viewing
Topic: Air Pollution
View Segment One: length 3 minutes and 56 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black.
(Visual and audio cues: Begin to play after the program title and you hear “Mexico City pulses with energy.” Stop when you hear “Thousands of repair shops cater to stricter exhaust regulations and increased auto inspections.”)
Post-viewing Discussion on Mexico City Topic: Air Pollution Solution
View Segment Two: length 2 minutes and 2 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black.
(Visual and audio cues: Start when you see people walking down a busy shopping thoroughfare and you will see three women in red coats and hear “Each day over a million people pack its sidewalks.” Stop when you hear, “Above ground, new highways ease traffic congestion as well as link Shanghai with surrounding industrial and bedroom communities.)
Topic: Water Pollution
The underground reservoirs built by the Romans which sustained the city’s water needs for over 14 centuries cannot handle this mass migration. Istanbul needs to change its water supply as well as its method for dealing with sewage and waste water. In addition, this influx of refugees has resulted in the loss of land or greenspace due to illegal housing projects to accommodate Istanbul’s newest citizens.”
View Segment Three: length 4 minutes and 29 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black.
(Start when you see the back of a building with two satellite dishes and the camera pans up to a bridge crowded with cars and you hear “With little room left in the old city, people are crowding . . . .” Stop when you hear “Today his catch is meager — a family tradition is about to disappear.”)
Topic: Water Pollution Solution
View Segment Four: length: 1 minute and 41 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black.
(Visual and audio cues: Start when you see the Shanghai skyline and barges on a waterway and hear “Suzhou Creek is an ancient canal cutting through the heart of Shanghai.” Stop when you hear “Twenty miles upstream from Shanghai where the Hungpu is less affected by industrial waste, the government remedied the problem by building a new water intake and pumping plant.”)
Topic: Need for Urban Planning
View Segment Five: length 53 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black.
(Visual and audio cues: Start when you see an aerial view of New York City at night and hear “From the air, New York is like no other place on earth.” Stop when you hear Robert Kennedy Jr. say, “. . . they can use natural resources more efficiently than any other social development organism.”)
|Discussion Points/ GroupInteraction:||
Post-viewing Discussion on Air pollution
What are some of the problems Mexico City is facing today? (Answer: little wind to cleanse the air and no ocean or major rivers to exchange water and sewage)
What causes the problem of smog in Mexico City? (Answers: the combination of three million cars, 35,000 factories and its geography)
How do you think Mexico City might solve these problems? (Answers will vary —stricter emission standards, public transportation, etc…)
Do we face any of these same problems where we live? What are we doing or what can be done to help? (Answers will vary.)
Post-viewing Discussion on Air Pollution solutions
How are they trying to solve this problem? (Answers: limitations on ownership of cars and stricter air quality regulations for factories)
What are they doing about the traffic problem? (Answer: rebuilding the city’s infrastructure — starting with a rapid transport system such as the subway system found in cities like New York)
Would these same methods work in Mexico City? Why or why not? (Answers will vary.)
Post-viewing Discussion on Water Pollution
Do you know where your local waste water treatment facility is located and how it operates? (Answers will vary) Note: This may be a good field trip opportunity.
Post-viewing Discussion on Urban Planning
What sets New York City apart from Mexico and Istanbul in terms of how they deal with their environmental problems? (Answer: New York City has a vision — a plan for a unified system.)
What is the importance of having a plan before starting any expansion or development? (student discussion)
1. Group Project: “Building a City”: Have students draw or construct what they consider to be “the perfect city.” Plans should include methods for dealing with environmental issues, as well as a vision for sustainable growth and development of the city.
2. Group Project: “Improving Your City”: Have students develop a plan to improve the city or town in which they live. Have them highlight what changes they would make to the existing infrastructure. To obtain an “Environmental Profile” of where you live, visit the Office of Environmental Information (http://www.epa.gov/eq/).
1. Each group will create a Venn diagram for the 4 cities they have viewed.
2. Each student will list 10 novel ideas, which will be shared by the class.
|Instructional Resources/ Materials:||
EE-Link (Environmental Education on the Internet)
This site’s mission is to spread information and ideas that will help educators explore the environment and investigate current issues with students.
Environmental News Network
EPA Curriculum and Resources
EPA Student Center
Urbanization and Water Quality
Water Environment Federation
|Extending the Lesson/ Follow-up Activity:||
Have students invite a representative from their local water utility to speak to the class. This could also be done as an individual interview. Have students prepare questions such as: Where does our water come from? Where is the waste from factories and plants released? How is our local sewage treated, and where is it released? To learn more about the effects of urbanization on water, have your students visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Science for Schools site at http://wwwga.usgs.gov/edu/urbanquality.html. Have students research the development of their community in terms of land use. Have them look at questions such as how the land was first used, and how it is used today. Have them compare and contrast the benefits of development due to population growth. Students can check with their local Chamber of Commerce, city government or Planning and Development Commission.
For students interested in conservation, help them get involved in a local conservation project. These projects might include planting trees, cleaning up riverbeds or beaches. To discover other project ideas, check out “Fun Activities” at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Student Center (http://www.epa.gov/students/).
Throughout history, storytelling has been an important tool for learning about the past. Have students write a myth or legend about population growth and its effects on the environment. They may want to include such ideas as the uncontrolled growth of Earth’s population, and the effects on the Earth, the oceans and the skies. Encourage them to be creative.
Caterogy: Grades 6-8 Geography, Environment/Nature, Society, Science/Technology
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