Wildcat Dumping Site

Author: Matthew Tidwell
Editor: Stephanie Nardei, MLS

Time: 1 week
3 hours
Materials: Internet Access

This project serves as a conclusion to the unit. It is a cumulating activity allowing students to draw on ideas discussed in the last few weeks. Additionally, it is a project that will be dealt with in cross-curricular fashion. In the students’ science class, they will analyze samples from an illegal dumping site. In social science, the students will research the history of these sites. Finally, in language arts, the students will take on a societal role as one of the following:

  • scientist
  • community member
  • public employee
  • businessman
They will research the facts about illegal dumping sites and write an editorial exposing the effects of the site from their point of view and persuades readers to take action. Additionally, the connection between the American worker and the Industrial Revolution will be addressed.

The students will:
1. Research impacts of illegal dumping sites on the environment and members of society.
2. Compose an editorial from the perspective of a society member that exposes the   effects of illegal dumping and persuades readers to take action.

W-PS Write a persuasive essay that contains effective introductory and summary statements; arranges the arguments effectives; and fully develops the ideas with convincing proof, details, facts, examples and descriptions.
PO 1: Write a thesis statement to convey a point of view about a subject
PO 2: Develop the point of view with ample and convincing support appropriate to audience and purpose
PO 3: Create an organizational structure that includes an effective beginning, middle and ending
PO 4: Use persuasive word choice and sentence structure.

Teacher Background
The teacher will want to coordinate with the science and social science educators insuring the timing of this project matches with their curriculum. Each class has a vital part in this project, so it should be done collaboratively. The teacher will visit the websites provided to familiarize themselves with facts surrounding illegal dumping sites.

Resource Websites
Hamilton County Environmental Services http://www.hcdoes.org/sw/illegaldump/illegal_dumping.htm
Illegal Dumping Issues & Answers: http://www.recycle.4t.com/custom3.html
Illegal Dumping Prevention Guide http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/resources/il-dmpng.pdf
Environmental, Health & Economic Effects of Illegal Dumping http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/resources/EffectsofDumping.pdf
Report Illegal Dump Sites: http://www.metro-region.org/article.cfm?articleid=569
Illegal Dumping Control http://www.stormwatercenter.net/Pollution_Prevention_Factsheets/IllegalDumpingControl.htm
What is Illegal Dumping and Why is it a Problem: http://www.metrokc.gov/health/hazard/dumping.htm
Phoenix.gov on Illegal Dumping http://phoenix.gov/GARBAGE/illdump.html
Texas Illegal Dumping Resource Center http://www.tidrc.org/Homex.htm
City of Tucson on Illegal Dumping http://www.tucsonaz.gov/infoguide/ig_listing.php?listing=159
Article in Arizona Daily Star on Illegal Dumping http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/taxpayerwatch/65359



The students should be divided into four different groups. Each group will be assigned a specific role to take on:

      1. Scientist,
      2. Community member,
      3. Public worker, and
      4. Businessman.

2. Students then conduct research on illegal dumping sites to familiarize themselves with these places.

After the research, students will convene within their groups. From the mindset of their assigned role, the students brainstorm what their opinions might be concerning these dumping sites:

    • They will answer these questions:
        • What is their interest in these sites?
        • Why might they want them to disappear or stay?
        • What effects do these sites have?
          The responses will be different depending on the role.
    • The scientist will be concerned with the environmental impact of such a site. Hazardous chemicals might be leaking into a water supply, or dangerous fumes might be circulating around the site.
    • The community member will look at it in a manner similar to the scientist. The effect on the water supply would concern this person; however, the impact on land value would also impact.
    • The public worker (policeman, fireman) would have an interest on effect the site might have on their health.
    • Finally, the businessman could take two routes:
        • On one hand, the businessman might be concerned because the site could hamper future development.
        • On the other hand, the businessman might be trying to avoid dumping charges, because fees are high and cost money.

These are some possibilities. The brainstorming session should yield many ideas the students could take with their editorials.

The students then write their editorials.

  • This should be completed following the entire writing process:
    • Brainstorming/Outline—students formulate arguments and reasons for support.
    • Rough Draft—students put ideas into editorial format.
    • Peer Review—students edit their rough drafts with a focus on clarity of arguments and mechanics. This process can be teacher-led or student-led:
      • If teacher-led, the teacher should give students a list of criteria to look at while reading.
      • If student-led, they can think of a similar list which can be used to grade the editorials.
    • Final Draft—students compose one final draft that is clear and focused.

It would be beneficial for students to meet in groups once again and share their editorials with their peers. The students would have the opportunity to see how other students argued the same point.

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
The editorials should be graded using a rubric.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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