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Walk Through Your Neighborhood
Grades 3-12

Overview: Parents can help their children do this lesson on neighborhood awareness. It's one thing to say you do or don't like your neighborhood, and quite another to know why.
Teacher Preparation: Information from neighborhood organizations; have a speaker from your city planning department, or a member of a neighborhood citizen's participation organization.
Procedure Ideas:

  • Run through an exercise with your students in describing their neighborhoods' sounds, smells, sights and activities. Help them isolate smaller pieces they can identify with or point to. For example, break down "too much noise" into different types of noise they can directly identify, such as loud music or cars from a nearby expressway.
  • Have them talk with their parents about their neighborhood the way it is now, and what it was like 5, 10, or 20 years ago. What things have influenced change in their neighborhood?
  • What things would they like to see different, and how can that change be realized? Invite an elected representative from a citizen's participation organization to field questions from your class and offer suggestions about how they, even as students, can begin to make a difference in their neighborhoods.
  • Inspire your students to a closer level of community within your school building by sharing more or working with other classes.
  • Draw pictures of neighborhoods for an art project.
  • Have students interview older neighborhood residents, finding out what neighborhoods were like when they were younger, using that information to write a short story about that point in time.

Trash: Out of Site - Out of Mind?
Grades 3-12

Overview: Our city, Wichita, has a population of the combined metro area pushing half a million. Daily, the trash generated per capita is 7.1 pounds, compared to the national average of 4.4 pounds, and our landfill is full, stuffed with 1,500 tons of garbage each day. What can be done about the garbage we produce, and how can this wasteful public attitude be changed?
Ideas to Consider:

  1. Pay-As-You-Throw: Charging for each item or bag put out for disposal. Will it force consumers to be more conscious of what they discard?
  2. Reduce Volume: Reduce the size of containers, or allow pickups less frequently. Do large containers encourage more trash?
  3. What's a Tipping Fee?: The cost to haulers locally is about $15.00 per ton, which will rise as new technologies are introduced or landfills are located farther away. Will increased fees result in less trash?
  4. Compost: Grass clippings and tree limbs account for 20% of landfill capacity. If composting is easy, why don't more people do it?
  5. Up in Smoke: Plasma torches and other incineration technology is getting the cold shoulder in many areas due to lack of trash to keep them going. Is energy generation an acceptable trade-off for cleaner air?
  6. Recycle: Who is going to sort all the stuff out? Some propose putting prisoners to work sorting the recyclable items. What are the pros and cons?
  7. Changing our Attitudes: What can we do as consumers to reduce the trash we generate? What would happen if we demanded less packaging, or more products made from totally recycled material? If people create garbage, do we need less people? Should we expect the government to fix the problem? What are we willing to give up?

The '96 US Presidential Campaign
Grades 9-12

A president with no moral character, and a challenger with no substance? Well, at least we can be entertained with the theatrics of it all. No, seriously, get your high school students involved in the electoral process at the NHHS Election Watch '96 Page. You'll find a cool electoral process infographic, some good questions for discussion and a long list of election links. See Yahoo Politics/Elections listings for nearly 300 sites on the election. Other search engines with specific election sites are Infoseek, Webcrawler, Lycos, and Excite (no. 5 on their list - Pat Paulsen for President "Let the young pay the national debt...they still owe us for food and rent"). Who knows; maybe someone you teach will someday lead the country with character and substance.

A Cornucopia of Traditions
Any grade

Objective: The student will learn about different cultures' approaches to the tradtional U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
Resources: Teacher: Access to several teachers. Students: none .
Teacher Preparation: Talk to several teachers, asking them to write a paragraph describing their Thanksgiving holiday, focusing on a particular food or activity that is traditional for their family, and how that relates to their ethnic background.

  1. Share the teacher's descriptions with the class.
  2. Have a discussion focusing on student's Thanksgiving traditions.

Variations/Options: Teachers could actually visit your class to share with the class and answer questions; markers could be placed on a globe indicating students' ancestry; Note: This activity could be done in the afternoon before the school vacation begins, the time when students are least focused on school work and thinking mostly about the holiday.