Archived page: For current information about high school initiatives in Boston, please visit http://bostonpublicschools.org/node/756.


Featured Signature Projects

Codman Square Lead Contamination Initiative


Project:
Codman Square Lead Contamination Initiative

Sandy Simpson
simpson@massed.net

Sandy Simpson has been teaching six years at Dorchester High. She teaches history and school to career competency courses in the Academy of Public Service. Teaching is a second career for Sandy after many rewarding years as a paralegal. Sandy is a graduate of the UMASS Boston Graduate School of Education. She is committed to public service and being a dependable adult and role model to her students. Sandy, also, teaches in a graduate education program involving a partnership between UMASS Boston and Dorchester High.

Project Information

School:

Dorchester High School

Pathway:

Academy of Public Service

Course:

Strategies for Success

Grade:

Grade 10

Authenticity

Key Questions:

How are you and your neighborhood affected by lead contamination of soil? How do we communicate important information about lead contamination to our community?

Overview:

This 16-week project explores issues brought forth by lead contamination in the soil in the area surrounding the high school. Students explore the health-related illnesses due to exposure to lead. They research the lead contamination of soil on the Internet to develop a list of relevant web sites. They examine the history of lead contamination of soil in the neighborhood and they gather soil samples for testing at the EPA lab in Lexington. Students divide into teams to develop a tool for communicating information about lead contamination to different audiences. They travel to the State House to meet with state representatives concerned with this issue. Through this project, the students explore a variety of public service professions, develop technology skills, study issues of social and environmental justice, and examine policy and legislative initiatives presently being proposed in the state.

Academic Rigor

What Learning Standards and School to Career Competencies are used in this project?

Science

  • Use technologies to present information effectively
  • Interview a practicing or applied scientist
  • Understand human interaction with nature over time, technologies developed, benefits and consequences of our actions and the impact of science
  • Research, analyze, and evaluate social and environmental challenges through observation, experimentation, research, and application of unifying concepts of science
  • Use technologies to present information effectively
  • Interview a practicing or applied scientist
  • Understand human interaction with nature over time, technologies developed, benefits and consequences of our actions and the impact of science
  • Research, analyze, and evaluate social, environmental challenges through observation, experimentation, research, and application of unifying concepts of science

Math

  • Collect, organize and describe data
  • Construct, read and interpret data
  • Apply knowledge of measurement in the construction of two and three-dimensional figures
  • Construct, draw inferences and reason with charts, tables, and graphs that summarize data from real world situations
  • Collect, organize and describe data
  • Construct, read and interpret data
  • Formulate and solve problems that involve collecting and analyzing data
  • Use computation and estimation procedures to solve problems
  • Use scatter plots of sets of data points to graph a line of best fit
  • Develop and defend conclusions

English Language Arts

  • Use various formats and technology to complete and enhance work
  • Make effective presentations
  • Understand and use the writing process effectively
  • Collaborate on project that applies learning to educate others

School to Career Competencies

 Communicate and understand ideas and information
 Collect, analyze and organize information
 Identify and solve problems
 Use technology
 Initiate and complete entire activities
 Act professionally
 Interact with others
 Career and life choices

Applied Learning

How do students apply what they have learned and researched to a complex problem (e.g.: designing a product, improving a system, creating an exhibit, organizing an event)?

Students apply their knowledge and skills in two steps. First, they rigorously and scientifically gather information about soil contamination, using science, math, history and technology skills. Second, they use this information to communicate with the community and advocate for change. The products students develop include a brochure, poster, newsletter, presentation to the student body and presentation to a community group. Each team has daily work logs to be completed and team research responsibilities. The project culminates in classroom presentations.

Active Exploration

Classroom Activities

  • At the beginning of the project, students brainstorm dangers of environmental contamination, and causes of lead contamination, and try to offer solutions to those problems.
  • Students develop working definitions of environment and justice.
  • Students pretest their present knowledge about lead and lead poisoning.
  • Students conduct internet research to develop a list of the ten most important facts about lead poisoning.
  • Students evaluate and rank lead-related sites.
  • Students develop criteria to determine a useful website.
  • Students examine data from the Health Centers 1999 Community Survey.
  • Students analyze data regarding asthma.
  • Students discuss the importance of collecting data, clustering, identifying high-risk areas and how programs are created to address health and environmental issues.

Community Activities

  • Guest speaker provides students insight into organizing communities into action around issues of environmental concern.
  • Students develop action plan for a case study with the guidance of guest speaker.
  • Student teams gather and map samples from assigned sites around the school.
  • Students research different levels of government and analyze the impact that each has on lead issues.
  • Students read and analyze and determine the impact of proposed legislation.
  • Students work in small groups to collect and organize information to present to the public about lead, through brochures, posters, and presentations.

Career Activities

  • Guest speaker provides historical perspective on lead contamination of soil in Codman Square.
  • Students view part of Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative video on Roxbury fires.
  • Students travel to EPA lab to deliver samples.
  • Students view presentation of EPA overview and a summary of their lead contamination initiative.
  • Students tour the EPA facility and meet with scientists.

Adult Connections

Who from the community, workplace or postsecondary or industry partnership do students work with on the project?

The students meet and interact with many different adults from a variety of public service careers. The students develop a working partnership with a representative from the Codman Square Health Center, work with a number of guest speakers in the classroom, and meet scientists and tour the EPA lab in Lexington.

Assessment

How do you and the students know the project is a success?

The students develop products for distribution in the community and present their findings to a number of different audiences in the community. The students do offer peer evaluations as well as receive individual grades for class assignments and tests.

Recommended Resources / Sample Products - EXAMPLES

Software or Materials Needed

Software ... Microsoft Office
Supplies for sampling soil

Websites Used

Student Generated List Environmental Health Web Sites
http://boston.teachnet.org/tuller/button8.htm

Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
http://www.cdc.gov

Teacher
Developed

List of Community Partners and Government Agencies
Checklist for Soil Composition
PowerPoint Project Presentation
Pre/Post Test

Student
Developed

Brochure
Poster
Newsletter
Rubric for Rating Web Sites


Signature Projects

Overview of Featured Projects    Website Project    STC Pathway Video    Westie Water Wars    Business Plan (NFTE)    One in a Million Class Fund    Mary Baker Eddy Library Entryway Structural Design    From pH to Parkland    Books and Bookings    Children's Books    Codman Square Lead Contamination Initiative    Narrowing the Digital Divide    Tech Assist

Characteristics of Signature Projects     AUTHENTICITY - Key Questions
  ACADEMIC RIGOR - Learning Standards    APPLIED LEARNING - Products, services, events
ACTIVE EXPLORATION:  Classroom Activities   Community Activities   Career Activities
 ADULT CONNECTIONS - Examples   ASSESSMENT - Examples