Science & Technology with a little Circle of Life for Jess

The NSTA recommends that students will “be able to consider the trade-offs among alternative solutions when considering decisions that involve competing priorities (NSTA, 2010)”. This quote was taken from the National Science Teachers Association Position Statement on Teaching Science and Technology in the Context of Societal and Personal Issues.


When I read this, I instantly thought of my 8th period Earth Science class. In an activity that allowed them to investigate the processes of the water cycle (specifically precipitation and runoff), I gave them an article from the Democrat & Chronicle called Keep Cow Manure out of New York’s water. This article discussed how New York’s booming yogurt industry is negatively affecting New York waterways and lakes. For this activity, the students were asked to read the article and write down initial thoughts and then discuss what they read with a partner. This specific class really focused (through their own interest) on ways to fix the issue. This lead students to engage in conversation around “trade-offs among alternative solutions”. One students said to just get rid of the cows, while another student argued that the economy needs the cows. Below represents some of the responses I received and reflects some of the discussion held in class.

"We need cows because we milk"
“We need cows because we milk”

Bringing this issue-based lesson to class increased the students’ interest in learning the water cycle, while providing them a meaningful connection to the content. I feel it opened up more opportunity to discuss relevant science applications in real world situations.

Something else I would like to mention and this is specifically directed toward Jessica. Today I attended a PD on Ubd that involved Living Environment Teachers and Earth Science Teachers. The Living Environment teachers were discussing the food web and ecology. They planned on using The Lion King as an example. They were going to use the opening scene and the scene below. It might help, it might not




Bryant, E. (2014). Keep cow manure out of New York’s water. Democrat & Chronicle.  Retrieved from

NSTA. (2010). Teaching Science and Technology in the Context of Societal and Personal Issues. Retrieved from


3 thoughts on “Science & Technology with a little Circle of Life for Jess”

  1. I love your use of this issue. I think that teaching issues-based science as much as possible is key. It increases scientific literacy, allows learners to see that science goes far beyond the classroom, and shows learners that often there is not one right answer.

  2. That Lion King clip is SO perfect to introduce ecology. You’ll be disappoint when you hear this, but things changed drastically for my IU last week and now I’m not even doing Ecology. I’ve joined the ranks of Evolution but will pass this along to my CT, and I’m sure Ryan would benefit from this. I would have never thought to look to Disney for such a great, simple, insightful explanation of Ecology. I knew there was a reason I always loved Mustafa!! =)

  3. Here is some important info on dairy farming in NYS from this site:

    Agriculture is an impressive industry in New York State, and while farmers may be less than one percent of the population, their contributions are everywhere.

    The dairy industry is New York’s leading agricultural sector with more than 5,000 family farms milking more than 600,000 cows. Each one of those cows produces on average 21,000 pounds (or 2,436 gallons) of milk each year. When you add all that up, it becomes nearly 13 billion pounds (or 1.5 billion gallons) of milk produced annually in New York State.

    When farmers sell that milk, it turns into more than $2.5 billion worth of revenue coming from rural, mostly upstate communities throughout New York State. The top milk producing counties in New York are Wyoming, Cayuga and St. Lawrence.

    New York is ranked fourth in milk production nationally, represents approximately seven percent of the nation’s total milk supply.

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