WebQuests (ICT Integration)
Our Environment (Gr 7-9)
Learners at every grade level have an instinctive curiosity and passion about environmental topics. Environmental concerns raise issues that relate to all content areas, and these topics can generate a high level of enthusiasm in learners. The projects in this section introduce problems and issues from the world around us and require learners to actively pursue real-world data, react to their own research findings, and present those findings in various formats.
The first project in this section, Project 7: A Whale of a Problem, gives learners the chance to dive into a controversial topic that is both historical and in the news—whaling. Strategies and resources are introduced that allow learners to investigate whaling from various perspectives, including the economic, environmental and ethical implications of the whaling industry. The project requires learners to research historical data and examine current trends to make recommendations for future whaling policies. In groups, learners research population statistics of marine life, synthesise this information, and make well-informed recommendations, being careful to scrutinise their sources of information for bias. Then the learners work together to prepare research-based multimedia presentations to convey their findings.
In Project 8: Why Is It Warmer? learners explore the issues of global warming, its causes, and current policies dealing with the trend. Learners interact in groups to consider various scenarios. In one instance, they work to identify facts supporting the hypothesis that global warming is a natural phenomenon and they must provide data to justify this position. A second scenario, however, has teams research the premise that global warming is a man-made crisis. In both cases, learners are required to participate in a forum to defend their conclusions and present evidence and compelling arguments to support their recommendations. Resources are provided for the learners to discover more about global warming, and teams develop lively and powerful media presentations to support their positions on the issue.
The first two projects in this section focus on past and present environmental issues, providing a natural impulse to begin a discussion of how our environment may change or create challenges for those living here in the future. Project 9: Water, water everywhere continues the use of cross-curricular, technology-rich approaches to problem-solving. Learners gather temperature and precipitation figures for Johannesburg and use these to create a spreadsheet that they then discuss and debate. Teams of learners then gather information on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) in order to evaluate the pros and cons of the project. They uncover historical, geographical and technical information regarding the current impact and potential future impact of the project. They also review the impact on the environment and communities in Lesotho who have been directly affected by the dams. A research guide that includes a directed browser with many hyperlinks to information available on the Internet helps learners begin the research process. Next, learners process their initial hypotheses while they conduct research and take notes on their findings. Each team organises and analyses their data and shares their information through a problem-solving PowerPoint presentation.