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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Civics, English Language Arts, Health

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans, 120 minutes
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Videos, 3 minutes, 38 seconds, CC, Subtitles
  • Worksheets

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - South, North Carolina


Google Docs, PDF, YouTube Video

“Belleville” Coal Ash Dumping

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  • This problem-based learning activity introduces students to the dangers of coal ash and how it affects people in nearby communities of a fictional North Carolina town.
  • Students will watch a video, read an article, brainstorm solutions, and take part in a group activity where they present their concerns about coal ash from the perspective of a specific member of a community.
  • The lesson includes teacher materials, links to additional information and resources, the student worksheet, vocabulary terms, and the roles for the activity.

Teaching Tips


  • The lesson plan is very detailed and comprehensive, so minimal planning is required.
  • The resource includes the materials in PDF and Google Docs formats for students and teachers.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers need to make a free account to access the materials.


  • Social studies classes could use this resource when discussing income inequality, environmental justice, environmental regulations, and the risks of living, working, or going to school near sources of pollution.
  • Science classes could use this resource for lessons about bioaccumulation, environmental toxins, pollution, genetics, or environmental science.
  • After the activity, have students join new groups and take different roles to extend this activity and gain a new perspective.
Scientist Notes

This resource is recommended for teaching students to develop site-specific solutions in regards to the environmental challenges they experience in their environment.  In this case, the problem of coal ash disposal and pollution is addressed. There is a contradiction in the diameter of a coal ash, especially fly ash. It is stated in the resource that fly ash, a fine, silt-like particle from coal ash is about 0.5-300 micrometers. This is not true as the maximum size of fly ash is 100 micrometers or less in diameter, depending on how the coal was combusted. Anything more than this is a bottom ash.

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • MS-LS1-5 Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.2.6-8 Explain specific roles played by citizens (such as voters, jurors, taxpayers, members of the armed forces, petitioners, protesters, and office-holders).
      • D2.Civ.10.9-12 Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
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