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This activity encourages students to explore various aspects of complex issues. It encourages students to consider the interaction of science and diverse community views.
What you need
- Nine ‘problem’ pictures for ranking.
(PDF 1 MB)
- How do you decide what is an environmental problem?
- What sorts of things affect your view of what an environmental problem is?
- Will your judgment of environmental problems be the same as other students’ views? Will they be the same as scientists’ views?
- What questions do you need to ask to determine if something is an environmental problem?
- How do you determine which problems need more urgent attention?
Ranking problem cards in a diamond pattern
- In groups, give students access to the problem cards.
- Discuss with them what each card depicts, and have them share their ideas about why this might be a problem.
- Tell them they will be ranking the cards in order of most to least severe problem. As a group they need to establish their group’s criteria for making these decisions (this may include the context of the problem, that is, local, national or global).
- Get students to rank the problem cards, according to their criteria, in a diamond pattern.
- Have them compare their rankings with the other groups, and give reasons for their ranking decisions.
- For each problem card, get students to brainstorm about what scientists will need to find out in order to address the problem, and begin to seek a solution.
- Did all groups have the same card in the Most position? Why/why not?
- Which problem do you think scientists would think of as the most severe problem? Why? How might you investigate this? (For example, invite a scientist to talk to the class.)
- What other work do scientists do besides solving environmental problems?
- Do you think we should rely on scientists to take care of our environmental problems?
- How much choice do you think a scientist has in what they decide to investigate?
(PDF 1 MB)
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