Human Impacts on the Environment NGSS MS ESS3-3


In the Human Impacts on the Environment mini unit, students analyze the both the positive and negative effects human actions have on the environment. They choose one local issue to investigate, become experts on their issue, analyze solutions and implement an action project to make a difference! Students are highly engaged and passionate about the projects they choose. This is a highlight of their year!


Extension activities include sharing their work with a local paper or news station for additional publicity.

Tips and Tricks: To make things more manageable, encourage students to work in groups or even as a whole class. You can guide students' project choice by bringing in local environmental experts around specific topics and helping kids see the challenges around them.

We have also found that we need to go slow to go fast. Provide enough time and feedback for students to learn about the whole issue - including differing perspectives on solutions. Sometimes students get so excited about implementing a solution, they skip through important steps like cost analysis and follow through.

reach out and connect with community partners early and often. They are thrilled to work with students and often have funds for school based projects. Our favorite partners are local watershed agencies, the pollution control agency, the department of natural resources and non-profits that focus on specific environmental issues.

Examples of past students projects:


Students noticed an invasive bush growing on school grounds. They worked with the principal and PTO to remove the plant and replace it with native species.



Students worked with the DNR to determine the mercury levels of fish in a local lake. Then, kids taught younger students about avoiding fish with high levels of mercury.



Students planted a rain garden in place of an eroding hill and created an outdoor classroom for K-8 students to use year round.



The school dishwasher had been broken for years. Students lobbied district administration to get the dishwasher fixed so Styrofoam trays could be eliminated.