Sustainability Unit- Fall 2014

Overview: In this unit students will learn about issues relating to becoming a sustainable community, including recycling materials and turning waste into energy. Important concepts include: feedback loops in systems and ideas relating to cooperation in society.

Introduction: Sustainability can be defined as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ Using this definition, students will explore ideas that can make their own community more sustainable, including choices as consumers as well as what to do with the waste. Middle school students will learn about these concepts using videos and activities to map their community. Their computer models can build off of two base models of consumerism or wastewater.

This curriculum was developed to connect the students to the Sustainable Technologies department at the Santa Fe Community College as well as work being done at NMSU. This program has students thinking about alternative fuels such as using algae to make a biofuel as well as renewable forms of energy like photovoltaics. Middle school students will learn about these concepts using videos and activities to map their community. Their computer models can build off of two base models of consumerism or wastewater.

Background: This unit will typically follow a 4 to 6 week (10-12 hours) of introduction to computer modeling, complex adaptive systems and StarLogo Nova. See our 6 week Introduction to Complex Systems and Modeling in StarLogo Nova

Pacing Guide: click this link to see the pacing guide for the Sustainability unit.

  • Week 1: Introduction of the topic of sustainability
  • Week 2: Understanding more about our trash and work with base model #1 to add a slider and consider extensions.
  • Week 3: Discussion of Feedback Loops and their connection to sustainability, introduction of 2nd base model, algae and wastewater
  • Week 4: Further understanding of algae and biofuels, connection to energy in NM and the energy future of Santa Fe.
  • Week 5: Students work on building an basic sustainability model
  • Week 6: Finish Sustainability Model, students collect data and share out to group