Learn how Roots & Shoots members make a difference.
complete a questionnaire to determine how their lifestyles affect the planet.
conduct a community evaluation.
research and discuss a community problem.
choose a problem and research it more fully
journal about problems based on their evaluation results
and propose projects to help.
Dr. Jane’s Lesson
Dr. Jane started the Roots & Shoots
program because young people were asking questions about the
world and its inhabitants and they wanted to do something to
help the earth, animals, and human community. In this section,
students learn that Dr.
Jane sought out help and information from youth, teachers,
and others to help shape the Roots & Shoots program into
what it is today. Students also learn about the importance of
knowledge and research from a group of students who are helping
solve a problem in the community based on information they have
gained through research.
1 ½ hours
All required information resource materials are online,
Connecting to the Content
It is important that youth recognize
they can have a positive impact on their communities despite
their younger age. One of the first steps to improving anything
is to gather information about the situation. Students gain
this experience by first conducting a community evaluation
to determine the status of their air, land, water, plants,
animals, and humans. After analyzing initial data, students
then choose a problem and research it further. This sets the
foundation for proceeding sections in which students help
solve the problem.
Before You Begin
Before you begin, go to the Roots
& Shoots website to register your class for Roots
& Shoots membership and to learn about the benefits of
being a member.
Have the class access Merriam-Webster’s
Online Dictionary and find the definition of knowledge.
Point out the different definitions listed. Considering
the purpose of the Knowledge section, which definition do
they think best applies to the word knowledge?
Instruct the class to conduct
a community evaluation. Divide the class into small
groups and have them research and record answers to one
of the following community evaluation topics:
Water, Land, Air
As a class, have students discuss the questions listed
below. Have them listen to what other groups learned from
their evaluations and have them take notice of the problems
that concern them most.
Instruct students to choose one of the issues they discussed and research it more fully. Have them use the tips provided below.
Bringing It Together: Topics for a Class Discussion
Based on all this information, what did you find were
the five most important issues facing the environment,
animals, and humans in your community?
Can you trace the sources of these problems? What
are they and why are they occurring? Are the problems
caused by the pursuit of a specific goal, for example,
satisfying basic needs or generating income? Or do they
arise from lack of information or communication?
As Roots & Shoots members and community members,
what is your connection to these problems?
How aware are people of these problems? Are they
recognized as problems in the community or school? Are
What are the biggest consequences of these problems?
Can you think of any solutions to these problems?
If so, why aren’t these solutions being implemented
What resources would you need (equipment, funding,
information, transportation, time) to carry out some
of these solutions?
If you propose a solution, how would it benefit the
community? Are there community members who might not
agree with this solution? If so, could you work out
Have the class complete their journal entries by summarizing
the information they gained through in-depth research of
a community problem. Can you think of a project idea that
would help solve this problem?
Research and Discuss a Community Problem
Now that you have completed the community evaluation,
you have information about a variety of issues and problems
in your community. Choose one that is of particular interest
or concern to you. Research that issue or problem more
Ask around! You can get information from many of the
adults in your school including teachers, counselors,
administrators, maintenance workers and coaches. Parents
and neighbors can be valuable resources, as well.
Use the internet: Using a search engine such as Google,
put in terms that relate to your problem or issue and
the name of the community affected by it (this could
be your city or town, or perhaps your neighborhood or
homeless – Birmingham, Alabama
abandoned animals – Hanover, New Hampshire
native plant species – El Dorado County,
recycling – District of Columbia Publish
Schools Washington, D.C.
wildlife rehabilitation – Lawrence, Kansas
If your problem or issue involves human behavior,
you may want to conduct a survey; for example, if you
want to learn more about energy consumption in your
school, you could interview staff and students about
their energy usage.
Contact your local volunteer clearinghouse; you can
find this information in a phonebook or on the internet.
explain the meaning of the word knowledge.
share their community evaluation findings.
discuss answers to the questions in Bringing It Together:
Topics for a Class Discussion.
indicate why they chose their problem or issue they did.
What extra information about the issue did they learn and
how did they get the information?
Students may want to find a community leader in the subject
area of the problem they are studying and meet with him
or her to gain more information about the problem.
Students can conduct evaluations of their own school by
Environmental Surveys. There are 6 different surveys
measuring the following:
Indoor Air Quality
Air quality index – A measure of
pollution levels that enables the public to determine whether
air pollution levels in a particular location are good,
moderate, unhealthful, or worse.
Cull – to select from a group;
in elephant culling, to select from a group for the purposes
of killing them.
Igneous rocks – Also called volcanic
rocks, are formed from melted rock that has cooled and solidified.
Knowledge – The body of things
known about or in science.
Metamorphic rocks – Form while
deeply buried within the earth’s crust when igneous
and sedimentary rocks are subjected to pressures so intense
or heat so high that they are completely changed into denser,
more compact rocks.
Sedimentary rocks – Formed at the
surface of the earth, either in water or on land in layered
accumulations of sediments.
State soil – Represented by a soil
series that has special significance to a particular state.
Areas with similar soils are grouped and labeled as soil
series because their similar origins, chemical, and physical
properties cause the soils to “behave” similarly
for land purposes.
Watershed – The area of land that
catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh,
stream, river, lake, or groundwater.