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6-8, 9-12 Schoolyard Ecology, Water & Watersheds

Several years ago, we decided we wanted a more realistic “pay or pollute” game, and thus Eco-Choices was born!  In order to help students understand the connections between water and air pollution through the concept of watersheds and airsheds, as well as understand the impacts of their decisions on human health and the environment, we have developed a game that allows middle and high school students to become decision makers in a hypothetical county.  The county is divided into five towns, each of which maintains different land use patterns and priorities.  Students first learn about their town and think about the types of things their citizens would support, such as changing farming regulations or cutting down a forest to build homes.  Students are confronted with choices they have to make with regards to the land, water, and air in their town.  Each choice has consequences, not only for the environment but also in terms of cost, voter support, and human health. Students weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the different choices, and then come together as a county to see the impacts of their choices on the other towns.