In this two-part challenge, students examine how aspects of the natural environment impact daily life in the profiled communities in Tunisia, Peru, India and Ukraine. Introduce the activity by inviting students to think about the ways in which the natural environment (e.g., forests, mountains, rivers) affects their own lives. To assist students in imagining this, choose one aspect of the natural environment (e.g., forests) and consider the implications for their own lives if that aspect was missing or in short supply. Suggest categories of effects to consider (e.g., jobs, products, health, fun activities, travel). For example, if there were few or no forests, what products would no longer be readily available and how would this affect their lives? Create a web wall showing the chain of effects that might result for each category (e.g., products: without forests, paper or lumber would be unavailable, which would make writing and reading more difficult; books and newspapers would disappear, which means it might be hard to learn about things). Help students appreciate the ways in which this particular aspect of the natural environment touches on various dimensions of their lives.
Explain to students that they are going to work in groups to examine how two or three aspects of the natural environment (e.g., forests, mountains, rivers) affect the daily life of people in one of the four profiled communities. (You may prefer to do at least one of the communities with the whole class.) Remind them of the categories or dimensions to consider (e.g., jobs, products, health, fun activities, travel). You may want to adapt the chart and strategies for Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity. Provide students with images, text, video and bookmarked Internet sites that provide information about the role of the assigned environmental aspects in their profiled community.
After conducting their research, invite students to create a web for each environmental aspect, showing the chain of effects on community life. You may want to adapt the chart and strategies for Web of Effects (Support Material) to structure this activity.
When students have created their web for each environmental aspect, invite them to decide which one of these aspects most affects daily life in their assigned community. Suggest two criteria for students to consider when judging impact:
- the frequency of the effects (e.g., Are they daily, weekly, once in a while occurrences?)
- the importance of the effects (e.g., Are they small, medium, big differences?).
Invite each group to share its finding with the class. You may want to use the strategies and chart for Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.