Sustainability (3rd-8th)

This lesson uses a fishing game to explore the concepts of sustainability and the tragedy of the commons. Initially, students play a round of the game with no strategies or goals. Once most “villages” run out of fish, students get a chance to devise a strategy together that will allow them to fish sustainably. After the activity, students present their strategy and their results and discuss a strategy that will allow them to continue to fish indefinitely.

SKU: LifSci-Sustain Category: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Lesson Overview

Students will:

  • Be introduced to the fishing game and play one iteration.
  • Collect and record data for each round & analyze class data during the Explain
  • Choose a strategy, then play a second iteration of the fishing game.
  • Define sustainability and discuss strategies for sustainable resource use by individuals and groups.
  • Discuss the “tragedy of the commons” using real-world examples. 

Lesson Objectives 

Students will be able to:

  • Describe the concept of sustainability 
  • Theorize and test possible ways to make a resource sustainable

This lesson is aligned with these Next Generation Science (NGS) Standards.

Standards Covered

Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI)

ESS3 Earth and Human Activity – ESS3.C Human impacts on Earth systems

  • (3rd-5th) Societal activities have had major effects on the land, ocean, atmosphere, and even outer space.  Societal activities can also help protect Earth’s resources and environments.
  • (6th-8th) Human activities have altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging it, although changes to environments can have different impacts for different living things. Activities and technologies can be engineered to reduce people’s impacts on Earth.  

Science & Engineering Practice (SEP)

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

  • (3rd-5th) Use evidence (e.g., measurements, observations, patterns) to construct or support an explanation or design a solution to a problem.
  • (6th-8th) Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

Crosscutting Concept (CCC)

Cause and Effect

  • (3rd-5th) Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain change.
  • (6th-8th) Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Stability and Change (If students collect and analyze graphed data)

  • (3rd-5th) Some systems appear stable, but over long periods of time will eventually change.
  • (6th-8th) Stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time
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