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


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography, Engineering

Resource Type

  • Videos, 7 minutes, 55 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - South, Louisiana


YouTube Video

How New Orleans Sank Below Sea Level (And What They're Doing About It)

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  • This video describes how human-made seawalls, levees, and water pumps have caused New Orleans to sink below sea level over the past century. 
  • The video highlights the disproportionate effect this has had on low-income and minority neighborhoods. 
  • The video ends by discussing neighborhood and city-wide initiatives used to reduce the risk of flooding in New Orleans.
  • The video makes references to Hurricane Katrina and the Mississippi River.
Teaching Tips


  • The video draws attention to a variety of injustices, especially those affecting black communities. 
  • The video can be used in a wide variety of subjects, as it connects science, history, geography, and social-justice issues.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the location of New Orleans and the Mississippi River. 
  • It may be helpful to introduce students to basic concepts such as groundwater, infiltration, and subsidence.
  • There may be an ad before the video.


Scientist Notes
As the climate continues to warm, more and more people are at risk of flooding. This video resource uses New Orleans as an example of how one city is both mitigating and adapting to the risks of flooding. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.12.6-8 Explain how global changes in population distribution patterns affect changes in land use in particular places.
      • D2.Geo.6.9-12 Evaluate the impact of human settlement activities on the environmental and cultural characteristics of specific places and regions.
    • Dimension 2: History
      • D2.His.1.9-12 Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.7.9-12 Assess options for individual and collective action to address local, regional, and global problems by engaging in self-reflection, strategy identification, and complex causal reasoning.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.
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