Community Improvement

Community Improvement


Course(s)/Subject(s): Civics

Grade Level(s):8

Key Words:Technology, Community Service Project

Developer(s) Name:Gerald Billingsley

School:Kilmer Middle School

File Name:ssGBk99

Approximate Time Frame:Variable - 1 week to whole year project

Materials/Equipment Needed:
Computer with Internet access and Word Processor (e.g.,ClarisWorks)
Flat-bed scanner
Digital camera (with software) or conventional camera
USGS topographic map(s) of school area
Stream Survey Adoption Packet (from Save Our Streams of MD)
Web browser (version 4.0 or higher)

Description of Lesson (includes context):

This lesson is most appropriate for small to medium-sized groups.

This lesson has students identify and research a local problem and decide what actions they as citizens need to take to improve their community. Although this lesson focuses on stream preservation and the Chesapeake Bay Act,any local problem (congested traffic, noise pollution, littered park lands) could serve equally well.

Students will learn about the responsibilities of citizenship through a community service project by doing research and inquiry into the condition of a local stream near their school or neighborhood using geographic, Internet, and observational resources to analyze the present condition of the stream and determine if problems exist which may relate to the Chesapeake Bay Act, to decide what action(s) should be taken to ameliorate any such problems, and to create a report, which includes visual documentation of conditions, appropriate for submission to local or state agencies.

Students will include data gathered using the Internet, a digital camera, and/or photographs scanned into the report drafted and edited with word processing software.

This project can be extended by creating and carrying out an action plan to solve problems and/or establishing a program of regular monitoring, and documenting these actions with additional pictures.

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  1. What is the objective of this lesson?

FCPS POS Standards:
8.1Students will identify and understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens of
the United States.


Students will conduct inquiries and research to demonstrate knowledge and

understanding of civics, economics, and geography.


Students will apply knowledge of civics, economics, and geography to make

decisions and solve problems.

FCPS POS Benchmarks:


Students will demonstrate an understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship.

8.5.1Students will be able to acquire information from a variety of sources.

8.6.1Students will be able to make and evaluate decisions.

FCPS POS Indicators:
8.1.2.aExplain the responsibilities of a citizen in the family, school, community, state,
nation and world.

8.1.2.bDiscuss and evaluate issues involving the importance of civic responsibility to
the individual and to the community and the value and challenge of diversity in
the United States.

8.5.1.aGather information from written, oral, and visual sources.

8.5.1.bUse search strategies to access and retrieve electronic information.

8.6.1.aIdentify a situation in which a decision is required.

8.6.1.eTake action to implement the decision.

VA SOL(s) (including Computer/Technology):7.9,CT 8.1.1 , CT 8.1.4



  1. What will we examine as evidence of students' knowledge and/or skill?


The students' product will be a report of their research, observations, and
recommendations about the stream which will include:

  1. Maps of the area they have surveyed (topographic and aerial)
  2. A description of the conditions they observed, documented by photographs

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  1. An analysis of existing and/or possible problems for the quality of the stream, and its
    possible effects on the Chesapeake Bay.
  2. Recommendations for actions to solve the problems.

The report will be drafted on computer with required maps and photographs scanned in or
downloaded from digitalcamera.




  1. What exactly will the students and teacher do during the lesson?

Directions to students for proceeding with the lesson:

Students will:

  1. Form groups using size guidelines set forth by the teacher.
  2. Use USGS topographic maps to locate, identify, and choose a section of a local stream
    to study.
  3. Locate and print aerial maps of the stream area from the USGS Terraserver site
  4. Become familiar with how to do a stream survey by studying the materials provided by
    the teacher and by visiting the following Internet sites:
    The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (
    Save Our Streams of MD (
    Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (
  5. Using notebook, map, and camera, survey the stream, looking for existing and
    potential problems that may affect the quality of the water. Note the location of the
    problems on the map and document problems by photograph, using either conventional
    or digital camera.
  6. Contact local and state agencies that may have information about the group's stream,
    possible sources of pollution,local water quality, and any water source protection
    efforts. Suggested Internet sites:
    Fairfax County Government (
    Department of Environmental Quality (
    Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (
    Virginia Resources Authority(804) 644-3100
  7. Draft the report using a word processor. Be sure to:

(1)Describe how the survey was done;
(2)Describe the section of the stream;
(3)Identify the problems observed and their causes;
(4)Include any relevant information from government or organizational sources; (5)Recommend solutions;

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(6)Scan in appropriate sections of the topographic maps and any conventional
photographs(using JPEG format);
(7)Download any digital photographs (in JPEG) and appropriate section of the
Terraserver maps.

  1. Decide which government official or agency should receive your report.
  2. Edit and finalize the report.

Directions to teacher/administrator using the lesson?

  1. Determine the availability of technology. Decide if digital or conventional cameras (or
    both) will be used.
  2. Send a letter home to parents explaining the project, emphasizing the need for students
    to obtain permission to survey streams on private property.
  3. Introduce the students to a problem solving method they can use to organize the project
    (e.g., Edward DeBono's PISCO method).
  4. Obtain the following materials before starting the project:

-USGS topographic maps of your school's area (
-the Stream Survey Adoption Packet from SAVE OUR STREAMS of MD
5. Using the SOS materials, familiarize the students with the types of stream problems
they should be looking for. Create a group worksheet(s) appropriate to the level of
complexity you wish the survey to have.

  1. Demonstrate for students how photos are scanned and how digital pictures are
    downloaded for inclusion in the final report.


  1. What options in presentation(s) and/or response(s) are suggested in order to provide the opportunity for all students to demonstrate achievement of the benchmark(s) and indicator(s)?

This project lends itself to being done as an oral report by the group to the class or team, or
as an oral presentation can be included which will be before a real or mock government

The project can be expanded by obtaining the Adoption packets for Water Quality Assessment and for Stream Clean Up from SOS of MD. This will provide guidance on how to create an action plan to clean up stream problems and to establish a year-long (or even multi-year continuing) stream monitoring program.

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