What Makes the Nation Go Round

Author: Sylvia Kniest

Time: 4 days
Copy articles from web sites listed below
Materials: News articles/cartoons on executive branch and hand-out on the structure of the executive branch


Students will explore the structure of the executive branch in order to understand the departments and agencies that implement and enforce policy (specifically energy policy).

Students will be able to:
1. List the departments and agencies that deal with energy and environmental policy.
2. Discuss issues that the executive branch is currently dealing with.

National Standards For Civics and Government
III-A. How are power and responsibility distributed, shared, and limited in the government established by the United States Constitution?
III-B. How is the national government organized and what does it do?

Teacher BackgroundTeachers may want to provide a copy of Article II of the Constitution: The Executive Branch for Day 1.

Resource Websites
(Executive Branch)

(article: “Executive Branch Reined In” from Washington Post from 6/29/2004)
http://cagle.slate.msn.com/news/health/health1.asp or slate home: http://slate.msn.com/ (Political Cartoons)



Day 1:
1. Ask students to list the formal powers/duties of the Executive Branch. Reference: U.S. Constitution

b) Brainstorm: Drawing on prior knowledge, ask students to name as many people and groups as they can that help the President carry out his duties. The teacher should record the students’ responses on the board.

2. Have students read the article, “Executive Branch Reined In”, which is about the Supreme Court’s decision on the use of executive power. (Article is from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13226-2004Jun28.html)

b) Ask students: Do you agree with the Supreme Court’s decision? Why or why not?

3. Handout the page from the Executive Branch: http://lcweb.loc.gov/global/executive/fed.html

4. Ask students to use the handout to identify which departments and/or agencies are affected or represented by the news in the article.

Tell students they will learn how the executive branch implements legislation passed by congress.

Day 2:
1. Use the hand-out on the executive branch http://lcweb.loc.gov/global/executive/fed.html to discuss the following questions:

a. Why do you think the independent agencies are separate from the executive departments?
b. List at least three departments and five independent agencies that most likely
deal with energy policies and/or the environment.
(Answers: departments of Energy, Interior, and Commerce and the independent agencies of: Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, National Science Foundation, Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

Day 3:
Students will use the website: http://lcweb.loc.gov/global/executive/fed.html to research the 3 executive departments and 5 agencies listed from the previous lesson and answer the following questions:

1. Name of the department or agency
2. Mission Statement
3. Name of the cabinet secretary or agency head
4. Description of any energy or environmental issues being addressed

Day 4:

1. Ask students to share their findings from their computer research.
2. Groups should then brainstorm on the following question: What are the potential positive and negative results of having various agencies and departments implementing environmental policy? They will record their responses to share with the rest of the class.
3. Groups will share the results of their discussion.

Embedded Assessment

Students’ research should show an understanding of the role each department and agency has in implementing and enforcing environmental policy.

Embedded Assessment

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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