Reflection: Real World Applications FIELD STUDY: Community Food Survey and Aquaponics (3 of 3) - Section 1: FRAME: STEM for social justice


My school has an advisory system.  Two times per week a cohort of students will meet with an advisor to explore post-secondary opportunities, learn about college, develop effective interpersonal skills, and engage with the community.  This community engagement has a theme that is unique to each advisory.  Themes include: technology, poverty, public health, immigration, animal welfare, and so on.  The theme for my advisory this last year was food justice.  To explore this theme, I adapted a number of elements of this course to support my students with a service learning project. 

In most respects, service learning projects are essentially the implementation of engineering design thinking solutions ideas within a community.  Students understand some need in the community, develop a solution to that need, implement the solution, and debrief successes.  In my advisory, this project is a culminating experience that develops over an entire semester.  Here is a resource that I used this year to support students' understanding of food justice issues.  The primary difference between a service learning project and a Capstone project in this course is that there is a lower barrier to entry for service learning.  This course requires students to develop an evidence-based understanding of community needs.  What is the environmental impact of gentrification?  Where are toxic materials located in Sunset Park?  How does increased human population impact air quality?  This level of rigor can push some students away from important community engagement work.  For students that genuinely want to help their community but struggle with the rigor of evidence-based understanding, a service learning project can be a happy medium. 

RESOURCE NOTE: The attached document developed by the Environmental Protection Agency provides an overview of the service learning paradigm as well as numerous examples of service learning projects within environmental themes.

  Real World Applications: Service learning connections
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FIELD STUDY: Community Food Survey and Aquaponics (3 of 3)

Unit 5: Food (biosphere and geosphere)
Lesson 8 of 24

Objective: Students will be able to 1) develop a claim about collected evidence; 2) create an annotated map of food availability and sustainable food production practices in Sunset Park; 3) use criteria developed over this three lesson sequence to determine whether or not Sunset Park is a food desert; 4) develop solution ideas to the problems posed by limited food resources in Sunset Park; and 5) describe potential barriers to successful implementation of a sustainable food production program in Brooklyn.

Big Idea: Food deserts are a persistent feature of many urban environments. How might we interact with our local community in order to develop real-world solutions that address the problems created by food deserts?

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