Rationale: Students are often able to identify a problem and very readily place blame for that problem however, when they are held responsible to think of a solution to that problem, they fall short of understanding the energy and care that need to go into making change happen.
Learning Goal: Today we are learning how to design a model levee so that we can attempt to create sturdy barriers to prevent water from flooding in the event of a hurricane.
Materials per group: one rectangular plastic container or tub, $10 worth of fun money, levee building materials (sand or gravel, duct tape, cotton balls, plastic sandwich bag or plastic wrap, a sponge, plastic straws, cardboard.), paper cups.
1) Divide the class into groups of 3-4.
2) Explain that the problem they are to solve is to build a levee system that will maintain the boundary between the lake/river and the city represented as the two sides of the rectangular plastic container.
3) Explain that their model level must be 5 inches high and wide enough to prevent the water on one side of the container from flooding into the other side of the container.
4) Provide each group with their own rectangular container and $10 of fun money, which they are to use to purchase materials from the following list:
5) Allow students time to do some research on how real levees are constructed.
6) Have the students take two of the materials and test how well they slow down water by putting a small hole in a paper cup and putting the material at the bottom of the cup. Measure a specific amount of water and pour it into the cup with the hole to observe how well the material absorbs the water. Have students write down their observations
7) Instruct the groups to brainstorm their ideas by drawing or writing every idea that comes to mind. Remind them that no idea is too silly as creativity is necessary!
8) Have students select the most promising concept. On a fresh sheet of paper have the students draw and explain their idea.
9) Allow students to determine their budget and 'buy' their materials.
10) Have students construct the levee and assist them in testing it by pouring water into one side of the container.
11) After students have tested their models, have them reflect on what worked well and what did not work well.
12) If time allows, let them improve their model and repeat steps 6-11.
Evaluation/Assessment: We will know we've got it when we have understood all of the necessary steps that go into designing, testing and reconfiguring a possible levee that will keep water out of a designated area.