Building a Healthy City (Final Project)

Author: Kirstin Bittel and Rachel Hughes

Time: 5 class periods
5-10 minutes photocopying rubrics
Materials: Paper, Glue, Markers, Tape, etc.
Major Project challenge sheet


Students will apply their understanding of city layout and effects of city design on air quality and environmental health as they build a scaled model city.

Students will be able to:
1. Construct a scaled model of a city that provides for the economic and cultural needs of a community while maintaining high quality air and water to protect the public health.
2. Articulate, in a presentation, the locations of their essential elements and the effects these placements have on air quality and environmental health.

National Geography Standard
(18) How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future
   18.D Use geography knowledge and skills to analyze problems and make decisions within a spatial context
(3) How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on earth’s surface
   3.C Explain how people perceive and use space
   3.D Apply concepts and models of spatial organization to make decisions
(4) The physical and human characteristics of places
   4.D Explain how social, cultural, as well as economic processes shape the features of places

Teacher Background

Related and Resource Websites



Days 1-3)
Optional ideas: Prior to class, if possible, contact city planners and establish a partnership between city planners and the students so that students can get feedback at any stage of development or at the point of presentation.

1. Tell students that today, they will begin construction of their model cities. They should include in their models, the geography as well as essential elements of a city that they identified on their city planning sheet. They should refer to the Major Project Challenge sheet for the requirements of the model.

2. Remind students they will be sharing their models with their classmates and other classes, so models should be clearly labeled with a legend and should be of presentation quality when they are completed. The group should be ready to present their model and defend the rationales behind it’s design to the rest of the class.

3. Allow students 3 days to work on the construction of their model and presentation.

4. Circulate as students work so you can evaluate progress and refocus students as needed. Are they including all of the essential components of a city that they identified? Are they missing any that should be included?

Days 4-5
1. Students will begin presentations. Students should give background data on their cities to the class before explaining where essential elements were placed and why. Remind students that their goal is to persuade the city council (the rest of the class) to allow them to begin construction of the new city.

2. Classmates should listen carefully and be prepared to question their classmates about the validity of their rationale.

3. As groups finish, the class will conduct a silent vote to either accept or deny the plan for construction. Plans should only be approved if the city plan takes into account, and successfully demonstrates, a consideration for high quality air standards, as well as cultural and economic development of the citizens within the city.

Have students reflect upon all the presentations. Which city planning presentations took into account the geography and climate of the city? Which designed cities with minimal air pollution? Which took into consideration the cultural and economic needs of the citizens?


Embedded Assessment
Students can be informally assessed on their ability to develop a scaled model. The inclusion of important concepts can be assessed within their scaled model and presentation. Peer reflection and questioning also provides an opportunity to assess students’ grasp of the material.


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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