Making Our School More Resilient

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This is an image of the lesson 7 icon This is Part 2 of Lesson 7 of Project Resilience curriculum.

Students will identify environmental problems affecting their school campus, which is the first step in creating a school resilience plan.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will analyze the school campus through the lens of environmental problems that affect the school community.
  • Students will begin planning projects to address environmental issues on their school campus
  • Students will examine two examples of adaptation projects to inform their own project development.


  • Preparation time: about 20 minutes to gather supplies
  • Class time: 50 minutes for activity

Educational Standards

Louisiana Student Standards for Science:

  • HS-EVS1-3: Analyze and interpret data about the consequences of environmental decisions to determine the risk-benefit values of actions and practices implemented for selected issues.
  • HS-ESS3-4: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

Additional NGSS Dimensions:

  • Science and Engineering Practices: Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Disciplinary Core Ideas: ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution



  • Make copies of the Green Infrastructure Elements and Rethinking Parking Lots readings. One for each group.
  • Make copies of the Project Planning Student Sheet and the Resilience Project Development Rubric. One copy for each student/group.
  • Review the Teacher Resource: Example Project Planning Sheet


Try Out the Resilience Toolkit (20 min)

  1. Remind students of the toolkit steps and adaptation strategies used in the state. Introduce the concept and benefits of green infrastructure. Split the class into two groups. Give one group the Green Infrastructure Elements reading and the other group the Rethinking Parking Lots reading. Have each group read and discuss how their reading’s projects relate to their school campus. Once they are finished, have the Green Infrastructure group present a summary of their reading and their recommendations based on the reading’s information to the rest of the class. Repeat these steps with the second group. Ask students to consider if your school would benefit from any of the strategies in the two readings.
    • Green Infrastructure addresses excess stormwater by using plants, soil, or permeable materials to restore or mimic the water cycle.
  2. Explain that green infrastructure and parking lot changes are included in Louisiana’s adaptation strategies. Ask: How would these strategies help in areas with increased flood risk due to coastal land loss? Review what the students remember about Louisiana’s coastal land loss problem by asking the following question: What environmental problems would lead to this increased flood risk?
  3. Have students begin walking through the toolkit steps by reviewing their answers for questions 1 and 2 on the Identifying Potential Projects Student Sheet. Ask: Have you thought of any new environmental problems affecting the school campus? Remind students to think about their talk with the school administrator in the previous lesson. Students should also discuss how the problems could change over the next 50 years due to Louisiana’s coastal land loss.Once all groups have completed questions 1 and 2, have each group share their answers to question 2 with the rest of the class. Use the groups’ answers to make a new list of the school problems at the front of the room with their corresponding environmental threat.
    • Example: If campus flooding is a problem, will climate change or sea level rise worsen this problem? Use the NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer to explore how sea level rise would impact the school campus.
  4. Using their new school problems list, have students break back into groups and fill out question 3. Question 3 will help the students identify possible solutions for their school problems. Once they identify solutions for the problems, students will need to decide if their solutions will be considered beautification projects, resilience projects, or maintenance projects. Explain that resilience projects can address many issues, including beautification or maintenance issues, but the school’s resilience plan will address problems from environmental threats.
    • Students may develop projects that address multiple issues. For example, a rain garden project would address an environmental issue but could also be considered a beautification project.
    • If students have trouble thinking of projects, open and project the Youth Resilience Expo document. Provide background on the project and talk to the students about the adaptation projects listed in the document.

Choose Projects for the School Resilience Plan (30 min)

  1. Once all of the groups have finished question 3, have each group share their possible solutions with the rest of the class and explain how their solutions help the school become more resilient. List all of the resilience solutions at the front of the room. As a class, have students begin to narrow down the list of possible solutions and decide which solutions to include in their school’s resilience plan, which should contain at least three projects. Remind students that their school resilience plan will need to include attainable resilience projects with the goal of helping the school adapt or overcome future environmental problems. Using the final list of solutions, create a student group for each project. Each group will focus on developing a plan for their specific project.
    • The project plans will be combined to create the final school resilience plan.
  2. Hand out the copies of theProject Planning Student Sheet and the Resilience Project Development Rubric Introduce the culminating task as an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned about coastal Louisiana’s environmental challenges and resilience to improve their school campus. Go through the Project Planning Student Sheet with students, explaining that the student sheet will help them develop their project plan.
    • Each group will develop a plan for their chosen project and present their project plan to the class. Presentations are an opportunity for students to receive feedback from their peers and revise their plans before they are included in the final resilience plan . Each group will prepare a visual aid for use in their presentation.
    • Each group will turn in one final (revised/edited) version of their plan using the Project Planning Student Sheet. Once all of the project plans are completed, the projects will be combined to form the school’s resilience plan.
  3. Have the groups begin working on the first section of the Project Planning Student Sheet. Using Section 1 (Define the Problem), students will define the environmental problem that will be addressed with their resilience project. Students can refer back to their Identifying Potential Projects Student Sheet and the new problem list at the front of the room.
    • Groups may have different answers for Section 1 if their projects address multiple school problems.

Note: The Example Project Planning Sheet is provided as a teacher resource to help you guide students as they work through the Project Planning Student Sheet. This resource is not intended to be shared with students.

Assign Journal Prompt #17.

Prompt #17: Think about the Resilience Toolkit steps from today’s lesson. Steps 1 and 2 wanted you to identify environmental problems affecting your school and assess the risks to your school. What challenges did you experience when thinking about how coastal land loss has impacted your school campus? How do you think coastal land loss will impact your school campus in the future? Explain your thinking.



Green Infrastructure

Excerpt below from the EPA: What is Green Infrastructure?

"Section 502 of the Clean Water Act defines green infrastructure as “...the range of measures that use plant or soil systems, permeable pavement or other permeable surfaces or substrates, stormwater harvest and reuse, or landscaping to store, infiltrate, or evapo-transpirate stormwater and reduce flows to sewer systems or to surface waters.

"Green infrastructure is a cost-effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts and provides many community benefits. While single-purpose gray stormwater infrastructure—conventional piped drainage and water treatment systems—is designed to move urban stormwater away from the built environment, green infrastructure reduces and treats stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social, and economic benefits.

"When rain falls in natural, undeveloped areas, the water is absorbed and filtered by soil and plants. Stormwater runoff is cleaner and less of a problem. Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and other elements and practices to restore some of the natural processes required to manage water and create healthier urban environments. At the city or county scale, green infrastructure is a patchwork of natural areas that provides habitat, flood protection, cleaner air, and cleaner water. At the neighborhood or site scale, stormwater management systems that mimic nature soak up and store water."

This is an image of a swamp cyprus tree



This activity was developed for Project Resilience, funded by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.