This lesson is about the distribution and density of trees in urban areas and how that relates to environmental justice.
Step 1 - Inquire: Students explore a spreadsheet, map, and two graphs showing urban forest cover and its connection to wealth and race.
Step 2 - Investigate: Students watch two videos and take notes on the benefits of trees.
Step 3 - Inspire: Students complete a written reflection noticing the distribution of trees near their homes.
This is an engaging lesson because it is so personal. Students will think about tree cover where they live and how that relates to demographic data.
It is necessary to share the Student Slideshow with your students and give them editing access before beginning the lesson. All students will be writing in the same slideshow.
Reduce nearby outside temperatures
Reduce amount of energy used for heating and cooling buildings
Absorb carbon dioxide, thus mitigating climate change
Filter urban pollutants and fine particulates
Provide habitat, food, and protection to plants and animals
Provide food for people
Provide wood that can be used at the end of a tree’s life
Improve physical and mental health of people
Increase property values
Provide shade for people and animals
Control stormwater runoff, protecting water quality and reducing the need for water treatment
Protect against mudslides
Help prevent floods
Improve air quality
Increase attention spans and decrease stress levels in people
Improve health outcomes in hospital patients
Teachers can use the glossary at the end of the slideshow at any point throughout the lesson to help students understand vocabulary.
The spreadsheet and the graph on slide 11 might be tricky. Encourage your students to turn and talk to one another for help.
This lesson uses data from peer-reviewed research that breaks down the forest cover in cities as it correlates to income. The evidence is clear and convincing that more affluent neighborhoods have more tree cover, which has a documented benefit on the residents. All external links are scientifically sound, and this lesson has pass our science quality assessment.