Using what you learned from the article, describe how rising seas threaten the places we live.
How have builders made flooding an even bigger problem in coastal areas over the years?
Why do you think landscape architect Kristina Hill calls New Orleans' floodwall "a dumbing down of the human ability to track and respond" to rising sea levels? Based on what you learned from the article, what do you think might be a better way for New Orleans to address this problem?
According to environmental engineer Paul Olsen, people have three choices with sea-level rise: adapt, retreat or defend. Under what circumstances do you think each of these options might be the right choice?
- As a class, discuss reasons why rising sea levels are a threat to coastal areas. Then have students review the article to summarize what different cities are doing to deal with the problem.
- Discuss the merits of each approach. Challenge students to explain why the same idea will not work in every location. Discuss how studying the landscape and history of an area allows engineers and architects to find the best solution.
- Have students select one threatened coastal city. Instruct them to conduct research to learn about the city's landscape and how people in the area have dealt with flooding in the past. Then challenge students to identify what they think would be the best way for the city to deal with rising water levels in the future. Encourage students to draw plans and/or write a proposal about their ideas.
Invite students to share their ideas with the class. Encourage classmates to discuss the merit of each solution. Challenge them to identify evidence in the area's landscape or history to explain why they think their proposed solution will work.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
As a class, select one threatened coastal city. Have students conduct research in small groups to learn about the city. Rejoin as a class to share the results. Brainstorm ideas to identify a solution to the city's flooding problem. Encourage each student to draw a picture of his or her proposed solution.
As a class, select one threatened coastal city. Then divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to conduct research to learn about the city. Tell students to pay particular attention to the area's landscape and how people there have attempted to deal with flooding in the past. Challenge each group to identify a solution for the city's flooding problem. Encourage them to draw detailed plans of their ideas. Compare and contrast the results.
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to select one threatened coastal city. There can be repeats. Have groups conduct research to learn about their cities. Remind them to pay particular attention to the area's landscape and how people there have attempted to deal with flooding in the past. Challenge each group to identify a solution for their city's flooding problem. Instruct them to draw detailed plans and write a proposal outlining their ideas.
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to select one threatened coastal city. There can be repeats. Have students conduct research to learn about their cities, including landscape issues that can impact flooding and how people there have attempted to deal with flooding in the past. Challenge pairs to identify one way the city can adapt to rising water levels and one way it can defend itself against future flooding. Instruct students to draw detailed plans and write a proposal outlining their ideas.
Understanding the ins and outs of climate change requires some strong visualizations. Invite students to use the maps in this Smithsonian article to understand how rising seas and other environmental issues could impact our world.
Use these lessons from the National Museum of Natural History to help students investigate sea level change using real data and to understand how global climate change and rising sea levels are connected.
This lesson, from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, allows students to use before and after satellite images to observe and analyze land change over time.
This website from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center shares videos, information and related links on threats to coastal ecosystems. Topics include climate change, at-risk species and watersheds. The site also includes ideas on how students and adults can help restore these ecosystems.
Read this Smithsonian article to learn about five things scientists can learn from rising tides. The article includes an interactive map that explores how human-caused sea level rise is worsening coastal floods in key coastal cities in the U.S.
In this lesson, provided by the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, high school students can investigate the global issues of water shortage and contamination. Students conduct Internet research and work in small groups to find solutions to these problems.