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Lesson 1: Cities as Systems


This lesson is designed to elicit student preconceptions about cities, introduce the idea of cities as systems, and introduce the driving question for the entire year. The lesson begins with a brainstorm where the teacher leads a “word splash” about the word city. Then in order to encourage students to start thinking of cities as systems, student groups draw up plans (or construct models) of city neighborhoods and work to fit these neighborhoods into a city. To understand the time aspect of systems (and cities), these student groups are provided with imaginary (but possible) events that happen to their constructed city and asked to construct a past or future for their city. Finally, the lesson concludes by introducing the driving question for the entire unit – How do we develop healthy and sustainable cities? This question will be revisited multiple times during the year as students learn more about urban ecosystems.