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The Impact of Pollution on Our Planet and Our Lives

Elementary, Middle


Environmental pollution is a significant problem facing the planet. Environmental pollutants can originate from several sources. Knowing what the different types of pollution are and where they come from can help students understand the potential impact of these pollutants on their health and the health of the planet. This lesson plan examines the different types of environmental pollution and their effects on the planet. Using images and Pollution Case Studies, students will research the environmental impact of the various case studies and the causes and consequences of that type of pollution. Students will then explore ways to reduce the different kinds of pollution searching for solutions that focus on stopping the cause of environmental pollution, rather than just dealing with the effects of pollution.

As an extension to the learning, the resource suggests that teachers encourage their students to participate in The Design for Change “I Can” School Challenge which invites children to take action, make change for themselves and share it with children across the world. Visit Design for Change to get started.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • internet skills
  • research skills
  • speaking and communicating 
  • working cooperatively with group members


  • Case studies provided are excellent examples of different types of environmental pollution.
  • Lesson plan is easy to use
  • The information and topic is relevant to the students' lives.
  • Activities encourage the sharing of ideas and discussion opportunities


  • No rubrics or evaluation tools are provided for assessment
  • An outdoor activity should be included such as a community walk to identify environmental pollution near the school.
  • Provide opportunities to share their learning with parents and the community so they may all work together to prevent environmental pollution in their local area.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Air Pollution
  • Food & Agriculture (1)

    • Pesticides
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
  • Waste Management (2)

    • Liquid Waste
    • Solid Waste Disposal
  • Water (1)

    • Marine Environments

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Students are encouraged to draw their own conclusions based on the information they read and analyse in the case studies. Students are not influenced to any particular point of view.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The resource effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Students are asked to write down two things they can do on a daily basis to prevent pollution of their local environment. As an extension to the learning, the resource suggests that teachers encourage their students to participate in The Design for Change “I Can” School Challenge which invites children to take action, make change for themselves and share it with children across the world. 

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The resource fosters appreciation and concern for their local environment. Students discuss ways to prevent environmental pollution in their community.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

By exploring two things they can do on a daily basis to prevent pollution of their local environment students are personally connected to the issue.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

The case studies share information regarding environmental impact case studies of the past while classroom discussions provide the benefits of stopping environmental pollution in the future.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students are provided with factual case studies which encourages multiple answers or suggestions to environmental pollution.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
  • Science
  • Health
  • English language Arts
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory

Students are provided with case studies of different kinds of environmental pollution and brainstorm to arrive at a solution to the problem.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good

Students watch a video, brainstorm about different kinds of environmental pollution and analyse pollution case studies of real events which they research on the internet. 

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

Students research real case studies of environmental pollution and then examine possible solutions to prevent environmental pollution in their community such as banning cars from idling near schools.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Students understanding of the issue can be determined during classroom discussions and presentation of their pollution solutions. No assessment tools are provided.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

Students share their diagrams and ideas to prevent environmental pollution in their community with their peers.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good

Each student will have a different case study that describes the causes and effects of a form of pollution (e.g. an oil spill, vehicle exhausts, plastic bags, landfill, fossil fuel power stations, air travel, agricultural chemicals, and industrial water pollution). Case studies are descriptions and facts of real events from real situations.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

Students are invited to draw a diagram that shows the effects of taking action to prevent pollution. Students can use words, symbols, or pictures. Allow students to be creative with this and be prepared to support them with ideas for preventing pollution.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.