Lesson Plans





The world is urbanizing at record levels. In every corner of the globe people are moving from the countryside to the cities. By 2025 half of the worlds population will live in cities. The biggest challenge for scientists, politicians, and engineers will be to manage these urban leviathans. This unit will ask students to considerer the future of a world that has left its agrarian past and  sailed headlong into a world of concentrated humanity. How will people deal with community issues, with waste, with accommodation, with social stability,with consumption and with the massive environmental impact of massive concentrations of population. The unit will begin with a historical overview of the development of cities, then follow the trends in population growth to our current time. The course will investigate the impact of Shanghai, New York,Mexico City and Lagos on the culture and lives of the people and of the environments on which they depend. It will ask what governments are doing as far a policy, it will ask how new technologies are dealing with issues of communication and transportation, and it will focus on methods of sustainability that will be crucial to the quality of life. This is designed as a unit within an  elective course of Geopolitics.


Note: Many of the unit lessons would best be served under block scheduling where a class can meet for at least 50 minutes with 80 minutes being ideal.


Student requirements are as follows.

1. One book review. The book is to be selected from the list provided and students will have the entire semester to complete it.

2. One position paper: Question: Are megacitiy environments something that is beneficial to the human race?

3.Completion of daily reading and written assignments.

4.Class project: Sim City Simulation


Introduction of Sim City Simulation Game

The first day of the Unit will introduce the simulation using the Sim City Computer game The goal of the simulation is to give students the opportunity to learn urban planning, and management skills.


How the Project Works.

 Students will be placed in groups of 5. Each group will be given a department in the city government. They are as follows:








The goal is to build a thriving, populous, and sustainable city.


After the assignment of Departments, the class will elect a mayor and each group will appoint a chairperson.

Once the game begins each department will play for one class period a week on a rotational basis.

The first players will be Zoning. They will consult with the Mayor, come to a consensus and make their moves. The game will give advice and offer hurdles. Each department will then make decisions in consultation with the mayor .

Throughout the unit as challenges arise class will discuss certain cases from the real world in order to make decisions (See lesson Plans). This will also require the teacher to react to class questions and provide the class with information to help them with their city planning. Challenges and failures are inevitable. They will raise awareness about the immense challenges that cities face as they grow.


At the end of the study unit we will rate the city we have created by the following criteria.

Is the city prosperous?

Is the city clean?

Is the city safe?

Is the city wealthy?

Is the city sustainable?


Students will be asked to write a 1-2 page  critique of the city they have created with an eye to the following questions?

What are the best aspects of the city?

What aspects of the city would you fix?

How would you play the game different the next time?





Megacity Unit Lesson Plans:



#1  The Origin of Cities


Part 1:


The Neolithic Revolution


Aim: How did humans shift from Nomadic to Settled Societies.


Development: Surplus Game

Send students on a “hunt” for food. Use scraps of paper or any other device you find available. You can hide bits in the classroom or in the hallways. Give the following instuctions: You are a tribe who has run out of food. You do not know how to farm. The gods have revealed to me that there is food (describe vaguely where the food is) . GO GET IT. When students have returned ask the students who has food. Ask for students who do not have food. Tell the students who do not have food to get food. At this point the teacher can facilitate by offering suggestions about how to negotiate or “fight” for food.

When this activity is played out discuss the following questions:

Q: What happened during the hunt for food?





Q: What might make the hunt more orderly, more efficient?


R: Chaos, Aggression, Some people didn’t get food, Some people got lots of food.





R: More food,  leadership, food in one location, civility, law, morality


Through these questions elicit the following terms and discuss the role of cities in the development of human civilization (see handout):


Surplus-have excess quantity


City-center of trade

Summary: Students should recognize that cities developed after a surplus of goods could be produced, secured, and distributed. This required a center of trade and a specialization of labor.


Part 2:


After the exercise distribute the following handout and do a close reading


Theories/Explanations why Cities originated:

1. Agricultural Surplus:

Production of more food than was needed, created necessity for centralized structures to administer New social institutions needed to assign rights over resources Created greater degree of occupational specialization in non-agricultural activities. Organization needed an urban setting


2. Hydrological factors: Early cities emerged in areas of irrigated agri. Elaborate irrigation practices required new divisions of labor, large scale cooperation, and more cultivation Led to occupational specialization, then centralized social organization Hence urban development


3. Population Pressures: Attributes cities to increasing population densities and growing scarcity of wild food thus a transition to agricultural production, and urban specialization of labor.


4. Trading Requirements: Cities are a function of long-distance trade. Need for a system to administer large-scale exchange of goods – promoted development of centralized structures Increasing occupational specialization would encourage urban development Theory supported by the many urban centers around marketplaces


5. Defense needs: Cities are a function of need for people to gather together for protection. Cities located on strategic places (hills) where could spot enemy at distance Most cities had walls.

6. Religious Causes: Control of Altar offerings by the religious elite – gave them economic and political power Power was used to influence social organization – initiated urban dev.


Discussion Question:   Can the origin of cities be attributed solely to any one of the above 6 factors?


 Part 3


How did Cities Change Life in the Ancient World? The Edge of History ;  Read: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race by Jared Diamond (abridged)  


1. Describe the three factors that played a role in the beginnings of agriculture.

2.What are the major characteristics of civilization.

3. List five reasons why the author says that humans are worse off as farmers than as hunter-gatherers.

4. Why does Jared Diamond say that humans were trapped into the idea that agriculture is better than hunting-gathering?

5. Explain whether you agree or disagree with this article. Give at least two reasons to support your answer.



Part 4


What is the Purpose of a City? Utopian dream or Noble Pursuit?


Watch: CNN: Urbanization: A closer Look


Discuss the positives and Negatives of Urban Life.


 Choose one of the following quotes: In one paragraph explain why you agree or disagree with it.


Cities force growth and make people talkative and entertaining, but they also make them artificial.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cities give us collision. 'Tis said, London and New York take the nonsense out of a man.
Ralph Waldo Emerson



Great Books video: Plato's Republic (will be shown in class 30 minutes) Plato (NYU)


Viewing Questions: Stop Video and discuss narrator points using the following questions:


1. How does Plato propose to keep social order?

2. Plato feels that rulers must always place the good of society ahead of their own. How will his Republic ensure this? What are the advantages and disadvantages to this system?

3. Plato believed that education was too important to be left to parents or popular culture. Why?  Do you agree?

4. Why does Plato believe that a philosopher-king is most fit to rule his Republic? 




#2 The Growth of World Cities


 Why and where have cities grown over the past 2000 years?


Chart Contest: Homework Assignment: Students will chart the growth of the top 3 cities from each year. Ask them to use graphic charts from their word processors. They should print out their chart and  have it on a USB key (Class will vote on best chart).


Handout Data


Top 10 Cities of the Year 100                                    

Rome                            450,000

Luoyang, China             420,000 

Seleucia,Iraq                 250,000      

 Alexandria                   250,000      

Antioch,                       150,000      

Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka    130,000  

 Peshawar, Pakistan            120,000  

Carthage                              100,000       

 Suzhou, China                      95,000    

  Smyrna,                             90,000                                                 



Top 10 Cities of the Year 1000                                                                        Population       

Cordova, Spain                  450,000

Kaifeng, China                   400,000

Constantinople                   300,000

Angkor, Cambodia             200,000

 Kyoto, Japan                    175,000

Cairo, Egypt                      135,000

Baghdad, Iraq                    125,000

Nishapur, Iran                    125,000

Al-Hasa, Saudi Arabia       110,000

Patan (Anhilwara), India    100,000


Top 10 Cities of the Year 1500                



Beijing, China                             672,000

Vijayanagar, India                       500,000

Cairo, Egypt                                 400,000           

Hangzhou, China                         250,000

Tabriz, Iran                                250,000

Constantinople                           200,000

Gaur, India                                200,000

Paris, France                             185,000

Guangzhou, China                     150,000

Nanjing, China                         147,000


Top 10 Cities of the Year 1800      


Beijing, China                                     1,100,000  

London, United Kingdom                   861,000

Guangzhou, China                              800,000

Edo (Tokyo), Japan                           685,000

Istanbul, Turkey                                 570,000

Paris, France                                     547,000

Naples, Italy                                      430,000

Hangzhou, China                               387,000

Osaka, Japan                                    383,000

Kyoto, Japan                                    377,000


Top 10 Cities of the Year 1900                                                                                          

London                           6,480,000

New York                     4,242,000                         

Paris                               3,330,000         

Berlin,                             2,707,000         

Chicago                                1,717,000              

Vienna, Austria                  1,698,000                               

Tokyo, Japan                     1,497,000                    

St. Petersburg, Russia          1,439,000        

 Manchester, UK                  1,435,000  Philadelphia                        1,418,000                                              


Top 10 Cities of the Year 1950                                           

New York                                                          12,463,000        

London                                                              8,860,000         

Tokyo, Japan                                                      7,000,000         

Paris, France                                                       5,900,000         

Shanghai, China                                                  5,406,000         

Moscow                                                             5,100,000         

Buenos Aires                                                        5,000,000         

Chicago                                                               4,906,000         

Ruhr, Germany                                                    4,900,000         

Kolkata, India                                                    4,800,000     


 10 Cities of the  Year 2010


Shanghai                       13,839,900    

 Mumbai                      13,830,884                    

Karachi                         12,991,000                  

Delhi                            12,565,901

Istanbul                        11,372,613

 Sao Paulo                     11,037,593

Moscow                       10,508,971

Seoul                            10,464,051

Beijing                          10,123,00                       

Mexico City                   8,841,916                                                               






Data Analysis:  Show powerpoint slides of the original charts and of the winning student charts. The Origin and Growth of Cities ppt


For each chart Discuss the following questions:

In what region is the largest city? Why? (If they don’t know briefly explain)

What might have attracted people to these cities?

Why would urban population rise so quickly between 1800 and 1900?

Why the geographical shift during that same century?

Why would it rise so quickly between 1900 and 1950? (Weren’t there two World Wars?)


Explain the appearance of Cities of more than 10 million people? How is this possible? What regions do these Megacities reside? Why?

Discuss while showing slides from Megacities ppt


Terms: Migration










#3 Growth of the Modern City


Part 1    Watch  Time Lapse Population growth to 2020 (1min) and Population Explosion causes Poverty Crisis




Read: Thomas Malthus: Essay on Population  and Megacities of the Future (Forbes)

Answer the Following

1. What is the general view toward human behavior and economy in the writing of Thomas Malthus?

2. If the predictions of the Forbes article are true, make a speculative  list of technologies that must be developed to manage these massive urban populations


Part 2:  Case Study Dhaka (video Clip)


Dhaka: Fastest Growing Megacity in the World (Global Post Sept 2010)

Part Two: The dreams of Dhaka's garment girls

Part Three: Disasters drive mass migration to Dhaka

Part Four: Looking on the bright side of Earth's growing slums

Part Five: Who can solve a problem like Dhaka?


Discuss with the class after viewing each short clip:


Why has Dhaka grown so fast?

How attractive is life in this growing city? Would you live there? Why why not

Are the solutions offered obtainable?

What  are three factors that contribute to the quality of life in Dhaka?







#4 Impact of Megacities: Case Study Shanghai and Mexioco City


Journey to Planet Earth: Urban Explosion(video link)


Andrew Marr’s Megacities (bbc1)




Every day of the year, tens of thousands of people move to the world’s burgeoning cities in search of a better life. Instead they find sprawling slums, massive traffic jams, chronic unemployment, regular failure of electrical and water services, strained educational and recreational facilities, and skyrocketing fuel and food costs. The uncontrolled development of the world’s major cities has led to a series of problems — air pollution, water pollution, waste disposal, housing shortages, and loss of farmland.


As the 21st century dawns, the question is how to balance economic growth with the health of Earth’s large metropolitan cities. How do these cities shelter and sustain their residents without destroying the delicate balance of the environment? The four mega-cities (cities with populations of over ten million people) profiled in the video segments are Mexico City, Shanghai, Istanbul, and New York City. Through the segments and the activities found at the end of this lesson, students will learn more about the problems facing the world’s mega-cities, possible solutions to those problems, and the need for urban planning.



 Notebook Terms:


      ecosystem – the community of plants and animals interacting with one another and the environment

      infrastructure – the foundation on which economic development is based, including the transportation, communication, electrical, and water supply systems of a community, city, or nation

      mega-city – a city with a population in excess of ten million people

      pollution – the contamination of soil, water, or the air by the discharge of harmful substances

      rapid transit system – mass transportation which enables people to move farther and faster through a city

      refugee – a person who flees usually to another country to escape oppression or persecution

      sewage – liquid and solid waste usually carried off in sewers or drains

      smog – fog that has become mixed and polluted with smoke

      sustainability – the ability to maintain or keep from collapsing

      toxic – poisonous, capable of causing injury or death, especially by chemical means

      urbanization – growth in the portion of a population living in areas of more than 2,500 people

      urban sprawl– the unplanned, uncontrolled spreading of urban development into areas adjoining the edge of a city

      water treatment plant – facility for the chemical treatment and recycling of water


Focus for Viewing Video:

 Say…"As you watch the following video segments, look for some of the problems resulting from uncontrolled urban growth and possible solutions. These problems demonstrate the need for a plan or vision to manage urban development."


Topic1 : Air


Say…"Our first journey takes us to Mexico City — a city pulsing with the energy of 24 million citizens, 30,000 factories, and five million cars. Mexico City is what scientists call a closed ecosystem. The focus of this segment is on the interaction of human activity with the environment, and how the results affect the quality of life. As you watch this section of the video, think about where you live, how you live, and the effect you have on your environment."


View Segment One: length 3 minutes and 56 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black.

(Visual and audio cues: Begin to play after the program title and you hear "Mexico City pulses with energy." Stop when you hear "Thousands of repair shops cater to stricter exhaust regulations and increased auto inspections.") 

 Post-viewing Discussion

      What are some of the problems Mexico City is facing today?

      What causes the problem of smog in Mexico City?

      How do you think Mexico City might solve these problems?

      Do we face any of these same problems where we live?

What are we doing or what can be done to help?


Topic: Air Pollution Solution Say…"Next we will visit China’s richest and most important industrial city — Shanghai. Home to thousands of multi-national corporations, Shanghai is a beacon for economic opportunity. In just a decade, its population of 13 million has grown by three million. These new citizens are peasants from the countryside looking for a better life. As a result, Shanghai, like Mexico City, is facing major environmental problems. As we explore Shanghai, pay attention to how city officials are attempting to deal with one of these problems — air pollution.


Compare and Contrast:


While watching think about  whether or not Shanghai's solution would work for Mexico City.


View Segment Two: length 2 minutes and 2 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black. (Visual and audio cues: Start when you see people walking down a busy shopping thoroughfare and you will see three women in red coats and hear "Each day over a million people pack its sidewalks." Stop when you hear, "Above ground, new highways ease traffic congestion as well as link Shanghai with surrounding industrial and bedroom communities.)



      What was the cause of the smog in Shanghai?

      How are they trying to solve this problem?

      What are they doing about the traffic problem?

      Would these same methods work in Mexico City? Why or why not?

      How about in your area?


Topic 2 : Water


Istanbul, Turkey is an ancient city racing into the next millenium. It is one of the new mega-cities. The city’s population is estimated to be around 15 million and growing. This rapid increase in population is due in part to refugees fleeing rural poverty and violence. These new residents are arriving at the rate of 1,400 people a day, a half million a year. As a result Istanbul is facing two critical problems–a water shortage due to this rapidly growing population and water pollution caused by waste water and the city’s shipping industry.


The underground reservoirs built by the Romans which sustained the city’s water needs for over 14 centuries cannot handle this mass migration. Istanbul needs to change its water supply as well as its method for dealing with sewage and waste water. In addition, this influx of refugees has resulted in the loss of land or greenspace due to illegal housing projects to accommodate Istanbul’s newest citizens."


View Segment Three: length 4 minutes and 29 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black. (Start when you see the back of a building with two satellite dishes and the camera pans up to a bridge crowded with cars and you hear "With little room left in the old city, people are crowding . . . ."  Stop when you hear "Today his catch is meager — a family tradition is about to disappear.")



      What is causing Istanbul’s water shortage problem?

      What is causing Istanbul’s water pollution problem?

      How has the water pollution problem affected the fishing industry?

      Do you know of any water pollution problems in your area?

What do you think should be done about them? (Answers will vary.)


Water Pollution Solution Say…"Now we return to Shanghai to see how this city is attempting to solve its water pollution problems. Toxic sewer waste water and factory pollution are issues that must be addressed. Watch closely to see how this city plans to improve the quality of its drinking water."


View Segment Four: length: 1 minute and 41 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black. 
(Visual and audio cues: Start when you see the Shanghai skyline and barges on a waterway and hear "Suzhou Creek is an ancient canal cutting through the heart of Shanghai." Stop when you hear "Twenty miles upstream from Shanghai where the Hungpu is less affected by industrial waste, the government remedied the problem by building a new water intake and pumping plant.")



      How is the city of Shanghai dealing with its water pollution problems?

      Do you know where your local waste water treatment facility is located and how it operates?



Topic: Need for Urban Planning Say…"Finally, we visit one of the most successful mega-cities in the world — New York City. In order for a city to function successfully, there must be a plan for sheltering and sustaining its growing population without destroying the delicate balance of the city’s environment. New York City has such a plan in the form of an infrastructure that was put in place at the end of the 19th century. With a few exceptions, New York works as a unified system — one that provides for the needs of the city’s inhabitants. Serious environmental problems such as air pollution and water pollution are dealt with more efficiently through this careful planning. In a unified system, quality of life is controlled by a city’s ability to anticipate its needs and to envision a plan to cope with change. In this final segment, we can begin to understand how a mega-city works as a unified system."


View Segment Five: length 53 seconds. Pause when the screen goes black. (Visual and audio cues: Start when you see an aerial view of New York City at night and hear "From the air, New York is like no other place on earth." Stop when you hear Robert Kennedy Jr. say, ". . . they can use natural resources more efficiently than any other social development organism.")



      How are the lives of the people of New York City similar to those in Mexico City, Istanbul, and Shanghai?

      What sets New York City apart from Mexico and Istanbul in terms of how they deal with their environmental problems?

      What is the importance of having a plan before starting any expansion or development?



#4  The Elements of Megacities:  



Part 1: ENERGY


Energy and the Megacity 


Reading: The Long Descent  Chapter 1 The End of the Industrial Age (Handout)    WATCH: The MOST Important Video You'll Ever See (9min)


1. What is Hubberts Curve? What does it predict?

2. What are the arguments made by the book "Limits of Growth".

3. Explain the different reasons why it will be so difficult to replace petroleum.

4.Do you agree with the authors supposition that the Ancient Maya are a relevant example to what is happening in our civilization now? Explain.

5. What is the Olduvai Theory? Do you find it to be an accurate assessment? Explain.


Optional: Read or Browse this Document for a more up to date look at the reserves of fossil fuel:




Earth: Minerals and Fossil Fuels




Roughly 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered in water.  Even though water seems to be everywhere, not all of it is suitable for use as drinking water.  Of all the water on earth, only 3 percent is fresh water, with much of it frozen or under ground.  And less than one percent of the water on earth can be used as drinking water.  Before we drink it and before it is released back into surface waters (such as rivers and lakes), our water must go through a variety of treatment processes.

Over two class periods, you will be guiding your students through the basics of water treatment -- both tap water treatment and sewage (or wastewater) treatment.  To prepare for the lessons on the treatment process, the students will be researching where their drinking water comes from and where their wastewater goes once it goes down the drain for homework.  After learning about their local water treatment and traditional tap water and sewage treatment processes, students will watch the NewsHour segment on water reuse in California.  This will be a great opportunity for your students to make informed opinions about the subject.  Encourage lively discussion about the topic.  What is their reaction to it?  What do they think about the water crisis in this country?  Once they have learned about water treatment, there are many opportunities for extension, from legislation and public health to science labs and bottle vs. tap debates. 

Talking about wastewater can be embarrassing for some students, but it will be important to define your terms so that they can talk without feeling strange about the topic.  (See attached worksheet to familiarize your students with the technical terms associated with water treatment.)


Drinking Water Treatment Basics

The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that all drinking water go through a treatment process before it is sent to our taps. 

Local water suppliers that use water from a local surface water (rivers, lakes, or reservoirs) must use a treatment process to take out any dirt particles, other organic matter (such as leaves and sticks), and contaminants.  The suppliers add chemicals called coagulants so that this matter will form clumps and settle to the bottom of the tanks that store the water.  Once the clumps settle, the water is put through a filter to remove any microscopic germs.

Water suppliers that use water from an underground source use a different process.  Ground water is naturally filtered as it passes through the earth into underground reservoirs called aquifers.  Water that comes from wells usually does not contain as much organic material as water from rivers and reservoirs.

The most common drinking water treatment is disinfection.  Most water suppliers add chlorine or other disinfectants to kill bacteria and other germs.  They may use other treatments to make the water clean and safe, depending on the quality of their source water.


Wastewater Treatment Basics

The Clean Water Act requires that states and municipalities regulate any discharges into surface water (such as rivers, lakes, wetlands, estuaries, and oceans). 

Wastewater is used water--it is often called sewage.  Wastewater is water that has been used in homes or by industries and businesses and disposed of via sewers that cannot be reused or discharged back into nature unless it is treated by a licensed wastewater facility.  Wastewater can include substances (called suspended solids) such as human waste, food scraps, oils, soaps, and chemicals.  In homes, wastewater is what goes "down the drain" from sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers.  Businesses and industries release large amounts of wastewater from their machinery, cooling processes, and other uses that also must be cleaned before being released back into surface water.  After a rainstorm, the water (called storm runoff or storm water) that washes off roads, parking lots, driveways, and rooftops is considered wastewater because it can contain harmful substances that harm local surface waters.

The goal of wastewater treatment is to remove the suspended solids from wastewater so that it can be returned back to the environment safely.  If these solids remain in the water, as they break down, they use up the oxygen in the water that supports the plants and animals living in the water.

Most wastewater treatment usually uses two to three steps:


Primary treatment removes 40-50 percent of the solids. 


Sanitary sewers carry wastewater from homes and businesses to the treatment plant.  Bar screens let water pass through, but not trash or other large objects.  The trash is collected and properly disposed of.  A grit chamber, a large tank that slows down the flow of the water, allows sand, grit, and other heavy solids to settle at the bottom of the tank for removal.

Secondary treatment removes approximately 90 percent of the pollutants


A secondary sedimentation tank allows the microorganisms and solid wastes to form clumps and settle at the bottom.  The water is then aerated. 

Tertiary treatment completes the process.  It can involve more filtration and nutrient removal.  The wastewater is then treated with a disinfectant, such as chlorine, before it is discharged from the treatment plant.  The disinfectant kills disease-causing organisms in the water.  After treatment, the water can be safely returned to nearby waterways.


Guiding the First Lesson:  Drinking Water

The day before you begin the lesson, have students research where their drinking water comes from.  This can be found in a local water utility bill or online.  Is your water from a local river, reservoir, well, or another source?

All animals and plants need water to live.  We all depend on fresh, clean water every day to keep us healthy.  We rely on our tap water to supply us with safe, clean water to drink.  Other animals rely on rivers, lakes, bays, and the ocean.  Where does our local water come from?  Does anyone know the source of our drinking water?  Do we all have the same source?  Does anyone know how our water gets to our pipes?  What do you think needs to happen to the water before it gets to our tap?  Does anyone know the process that our water has to go through to be clean and safe for drinking?  Have you ever filtered anything? 

Let's go over how water is treated before it can become safe drinking water.  The process involves five main steps. 

  1. Aeration adds air to the water, which add oxygen to the water and allows any gases to escape.
  2. Coagulation makes large particles coagulate into larger clumps.
  3. Sedimentation is a process which allows the clumps to drop to the bottom of water treatment tanks into settling beds that collect the particles.
  4. Filtration cleans the water.
  5. Disinfection kills bacteria and germs that may remain in the water. 

Use background (above) to describe water filtration or demonstrate by making a filter to show how simple rocks, gravel, and sand can clean dirty water and highlight how disinfectant chemicals protect us from any remaining bacteria or germs. 

Visit http://www.epa.gov/safewater/kids/grades_4-8_water_filtration.html for information on how to create your own filter.

For homework, have the students locate their watershed and major waterways or other sources of water in your area.  Visit www.epa.gov/surf or http://water.usgs.gov/wsc/ to learn the name of your local watershed.  Have them identify where the local wastewater treatment plant is located and what communities it services.  Can they find out where their used water ends up?


Guiding the Second Lesson:  Waste Water (Sewage)

We have studied drinking water treatment.  Now let's discuss wastewater treatment.  Does anyone know what "wastewater" is?  Who produces it?  What happens to it?  Where does your used water go?  Where is our local sewage treatment plant?  Does it smell?  Why?

Wastewater (or sewage) treatment usually happens in three steps.  See above background or use diagrams online at http://www.wcrsaonline.org/images/treatment-process-10-2-06.jpg

Watch the NewsHour segment, California County Turns Wastewater into Drinking Water.  Note that 15 municipalities are currently using the water reuse process.  Address some of the following issues:

Demonstrate how water filtration works.  Visit http://www.epa.gov/safewater/kids/grades_4-8_water_filtration.html


 Air: Emissions, Climate



Reading: Sizing up a Megacity and  Growth of a Megacity


Organizing Questions:

What are the major environmental impacts of Shanghai on the surrounding environmemt?

What are the causes of environmental degradation?

What are possible solutions?



To understand trends in the growth of megacities.

To understand the causes of environmental degradation.

To consider possible solutions.




Day 1

Watch Documentary:  Manufactured Landscapes


Guiding Questions :

List three ways that urbanization has affected the natural landscape of China.

List three ways that these alterations have affected human life in China.

How has manufacturing and industrial growth changed land use patterns?

What might the future of China hold if this pattern continues?

If you were a Chinese person how would you view what is happening? Would you seek new land? Would you profit? Would you enjoy life in the cities?



Day 2 Sustainability Solutions


Group Presentations: Divide class in to groups of 4 or 5. Explain that they will be creating an informorcial to be presented in front of the class. They must cover the following criteria?



What is the Product? How will it make the quality of life of the urban dweller better?

What are its benefits?

What does it Cost?

How is it Delivered?

Why should people buy it?



1. Written Script            2. Slogan and Jingle         3. Powerpoint Presentation


Students will have 2 weeks to put the presentation together. 3 full class periods will be given to advisement and organization of the presentation.




Group Presentations. Infomercial. (10-15minute class presentation. )

Write and present an Infomercial "selling" your assigned alternative energy source. Focus on the sustainability and the security of the energy.



Alternative Energy News

The Top 100 New Energies

Technology Review (MIT)

Huffington Post: Renewable Energy

China Focus: New Energy

Science Daily

Energy Information Administration

Anything Into Oil (Discover May 2003)

Joule Fuel.



Lesson # 5     Waste Management in Tokyo


Organizing Questions:

What are the ways in which people in Tokyo dispose of waste?

What similar methods exist in students own communities?



Students will consider the different types of waste that humans produce.

Students will learn how people in Tokyo deal with the different types of waste produced.

Students will chart their own garbage production and how it is disposed of.

Part I:

Ask students where they saw garbage on the way to school.

Ask students what might happen if there was no waste removal system in New York City

1.     Pass out Garbage Sorting Plan and ask students to write down all the different material they have disposed of that day.

2.     Form students into groups of four or five and ask them to sort items into groups considering how they could best be disposed of.

3.     Ask each group to share their categories and write them on the board.



Handout: Tokyo Waste Management Summary


Japanese households produced 50.3 million tons of waste; enough garbage to fill the Tokyo Dome 135 times.

Ask students to calculate how many Tokyo domes 403 million tons of garbage would fill.

Megacity  garbage statistics


Summary Questions:

What might the Megacities of the world learn from Tokyo’s waste management system?

How might Megacities reduce the amount of waste that they produce?




#6 How can Cities Improve the Lives of their Residents ?


 Lagos, Nigeria Best Practices


How has Lagos convinced people to contribute tio the quality of life in the growing city?


Shanghai Expo Better City Better Life



Interview: Ask a relative or neighbor or teacher if their quality of life in New York City has improved over the past 20 years.Record their responses for each of the following categories






Basic Needs


Natural Environment




Homework was to interview a relative:


Is living in New York City better than it was 20 years ago. (If relative was not here ask them if they prefer the life in NYC to the life where they came from.)

Mot:  Ask the Class: What would make life easier for you and your family here in New York City?



1.     Break class up into groups of 4-5 students. Ask each group to come up with a list of improvements for the mayor.

Ask the group to put their suggestions into the following categories:



Connected Community



2.     Call on groups to present their lists.

3.     At the end of class introduce the nine themes of Urban Development (use ppt slides)



Basic Needs



Urban Planning





#7 Transportation Methods: How have megacities moved to provide transportation to their residents?


Read   Beijing Builds New Airport  High Speed Rail Links Being-Shanghai (text and Video)    Watch: Megacities: Mumbai Traffuic Improvment (NatGeo)



Aim: What do you believe is the best method of Transportation for a Megacity?


Motivation: Map your commute to school today. Include the time it took and the modes of transporation you used. Which mode was fastest? Which most energy efficient?


Discuss the responses with the class then ask…What would make your journey to school more convenient? Why are you traveling so far? How could that distance be eliminated?  Should it be eliminated?


Discuss:  Shanghai World Expo "Drive to 2030" and GM Pavilion







Future Transport Systems (High Speed Rail, electric cars...)



 The future of Megacities



Go to the website City Mayors and choose an article  from one of the following categories (left hand side, scroll down)  Government, Society, Transport, Education, Health, Culture, or Development. Complete a detailed summary of the article and be prepared to present your findings. Most articles are short... Feel free to do more than one article.




EcoCities: Urban Planning for the Future


WebUrbanist (Various Galleries)