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Climate Change, Design Thinking, Life Literacies and Key Skills


3rd, 4th, 5th


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, Computer Science & Design Thinking, Career Readiness, Life Literacies, and Key Skills


105 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey


Google Docs, Google Slides

Facing the Flood

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Sep 30, 2022



In this lesson, students learn about how climate change is affecting flood risk in New Jersey. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Students share their experiences with flooding and watch a video about how climate change has caused increased flooding in New Jersey in recent years.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students build model houses with flood mitigation features and test their designs.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students learn more about flood mitigation tactics and write a short summary of their knowledge.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • This lesson creates a collaborative learning environment for students as they build model houses and test their flood mitigation tactics.
  • Students will develop a strong connection to self and community through viewing the impact of increased flooding in New Jersey.
  • This lesson allows for creativity, design, engineering, and free thinking.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Prior to the lesson, the teacher must have:
    • Cardboard 
    • Scissors 
    • Tape/glue 
    • Modeling clay 
    • Sand 
    • Cement 
    • Sponges
    • Plastic wrap 
    • Plastic tubs 
    • Pitchers of water
  • These materials can be recycled or donated. Possible substitutions include Play-Doh instead of modeling clay, buckets/cups instead of pitchers, tinfoil instead of plastic wrap, etc. Materials are not set in stone and can be substituted with similar materials as needed.
  • You can explain more about the causes of sea level rise prior to the lesson. This video may be helpful to show before teaching this lesson.


  • Groups of students with mixed abilities can collaborate on their section of the flood management article.
  • Groups of students with mixed abilities can collaborate on their section of the flood management experiment.
  • The flood management experiment could be done as a demonstration in front of the whole class if time, ability, or materials are limited. You can use different materials and flood the tub multiple times.
Scientist Notes

In this lesson, students will learn about the common causes of flooding, how towns and cities can mitigate the effects of flooding, and how climate change is partially impacting flooding. As a note, another way climate change will impact flooding is by increasing the rates of prolonged drought and heavy rainfall. The videos and articles included in this lesson are accurate. The final article touches a lot more on emotions and a teenager’s perspective but includes key facts with references on the side. This resource is recommended for teaching.

  • Science
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • 3-LS4-3. Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
      • 3-LS4-4. Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
  • Career Readiness, Life Literacies, & Key Skills
    • Life Literacies and Key Skills
      • 9.4.5.CI.2: Investigate a persistent local or global issue, such as climate change, and collaborate with individuals with diverse perspectives to improve upon current actions designed to address the issue (e.g., 6.3.5.CivicsPD.3, W.5.7).
30 minutes
  • As a class, students view the effects of flooding in various New Jersey communities.
  • Students form their own questions linking climate change to flooding and think-pair-share their experiences and perspectives.
  • Students watch this video about the increased flood risk in New Jersey due to the impacts of climate change.
  • Students use a Feelings Thermometer to identify their feelings after watching the video.
30 minutes
  • Teacher distributes materials for students’ experiments. Each small group should have cardboard, scissors, tape/glue, modeling clay, sand, cement, sponges, plastic wrap, plastic tubs, and a pitcher of water.
  • Teacher instructs students that they can use any of the materials given to them to create their own barrier to protect their cardboard house from flooding.
  • Students complete the the activity in small groups, following the instructions on the Experiment Worksheet.
    • Students use the variety of materials to create their own barriers to save houses they craft.
    • After three minutes, students measure how much water has breached the barrier.
  • Students review their designs and reflect on the results of their experiment, including how it could be improved. If time and supplies permit, students can attempt another design based on these results.
  • Students participate in a gallery walk around the classroom to learn about other groups’ strategies.
  • Students discuss how this may be applied on a larger scale and why it is important to continue researching flood mitigation tactics in the face of climate change.

45 minutes
  • Students break into groups and are each assigned a flood mitigation tactic from this article.
    • Students sum up what the tactic is and how it works. 
    • Students give their summary to the class.
  • Students combine the information from the article along with the data they gathered from their investigation to write a short summary on flood mitigation tactics used to mitigate flood damage brought on by climate change.
  • Summaries should include an explanation of why climate change is increasing flood risk in New Jersey, flood mitigation tactics that are currently in use, and how students would improve mitigation tactics through their design.
  • Students have the option to read about Jayden, an Indigenous climate activist from Louisiana. Teacher facilitates discussion using these guiding questions:
    • How does Jayden’s perspective on flooding and climate change impact your views?
    • Can you relate to Jayden's point of view?
    • How would you feel if you were Jayden?
    • Did reading about Jayden's perspective on flooding make you rethink your flood mitigation tactics?
    • Do you think people should do more to help people like Jayden?


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