Home and Community
Investigating Environmental Legisliation
- Grade level: Upper elementary and middle school.
- Subject Area: Science and social studies.
The Investigating Environmental Legislation Unit
includes a variety of activities where students learn about environmental
laws and the voting records of their local and state legislators. The unit
awareness of the impact of national and state policy making on local
environmental issues and encourages
students to become active participants in the larger social policy-making
process. The Internet allows students
to gather timely information on environmental issues and offers new
opportunities for students to communicate
with their representatives in a more efficient manner.
- Identify local and state representatives.
- Investigate representatives' record on environmental legislation.
- Discuss the local impact of their representatives' records on important
environmental issues such as endangered
species and toxic waste.
- Write reports on the voting record of their local and state
- Write to their legislators by e-mail or regular mail and make suggestions
for future voting on environmental
Materials and Resources
In developing our lessons and activities, we made
assumptions about the hardware
and software that would be available in the classroom for teachers who visit
LETSNet Website. We assume that teachers using our Internet-based lessons
activities have a computer
(PC or Macintosh) with the necessary hardware components (mouse,
monitor) as well as software (operating system, TCP/IP software,
software, e-mail and a World Wide Web client program, preferably Netscape,
Mosaic or Lynx). In the section below, we specify any "special"
requirements for a lesson or activity (in addition to those described above)
and the level of Internet access required to do the activity.
Special hardware requirements: none.
Special software requirements: none.
Internet access: Medium-speed (28,000 BPS via modem)
or High-speed (greater than 1 MBPS via network).
Unit Lesson Plans
- Lesson One: Identifying local and state
legislators. This lesson involves using
a variety of resources to identify local and state legislators. The activity
can be introduced with a general
group discussion on how laws are made at the state and national level, as
well as how legislators are elected, the
kind of laws recently passed, and the relationship between laws and
- Lesson Two: Legislator environmental
voting records. In this lesson, students use
the Internet to investigate their local and state legislators' voting record on
environmental issues of interest. Students
can be organized into groups to investigate stance specific Senators and
Representatives have on a
variety of important environmental issues.
- Lesson Three: Write a report on environmental
records of local and state legislators'. Following their
research, students write and peer edit reports on their local and state
legislators. Students are
encouraged to develop their own criteria for evaluating the performance of
legislators and focus on specific environmental issues such
as endangered species, toxic waste, or timber/logging on federal lands.
- Lesson Four: Current environmental
legislation. Students use the Internet
to identify and review pending environmental legislation that might impact
their local community. The rich variety of
Internet resources available allows students to search for legislation of
interest on environmental issues.
- Lesson Five: Letters to local and state
legislators. Students write to their local and state legislators, either
via e-mail or U.S. mail, critiquing their voting record on environmental
issues and sharing their own
views on these important issues.
Relation to Standards
The Investigating Environmental Legislation unit
contains activities that encourage and support student learning about
especially environmental issues, and the social impact of environmental
laws on communities. In developing these lessons,
we have considered relevant language arts and writing and social studies standards .
One Computer versus Many
The plans for this unit are tailored to fit teaching
situations where students
have access to several computers with an Internet connection. To accommodate
that do not have access to a computer lab with full Internet connections,
work in research groups to explore Internet sites and conduct their research.
If you have only one computer with Internet access, you
choose to do one of the following:
- If you have the technology, you may hook up the computer to a TV
LCD projector. This will allow the whole class to see sites in the preliminary
stages when students are exploring sites created by other children.
- You may choose to have
students take turns working in groups using the computer with Internet access.
- You may also download files from the Internet and save them on a
disk. Now you can transfer the
files you saved on a disk to the other non-Internet computers. Installing copies of
your Web browser on all non-Internet computers will allow you to view the
pages you saved to a disk. This will not allow students to explore hyper-links, but they will be able to access and view the information by opening each file with the Web browser.
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