The Way We Live

...and how our choices impact our environment


Iowa Core

How UNI’s The Way We Live workshops & resources help you help students learn

The Iowa Core, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (STEM) set standards for student achievement. Our workshops help you meet these standards. A sampling of possible ways you can meet standards are addressed below.



  • Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the earth’s resources and environment (NGSS 5-ESS3-1). Example: Students will learn how a landfill works and why certain designs are used to protect the environment. 
  • Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air and/or other living things in the local environment (Life Science KESS3-3). Example: Students will learn about recycling, reusing and reducing. They will also learn about production changes that decrease waste and conserve resources. They will then be able to explain why they are important strategies to reducing humans’ impact.


Social Studies

  • Understand the role of individuals and groups within a society as promoters of change or the status quo (Social Studies/History). Example: Students will conduct a service project or engage in their community, such as coordinating a Soles for Souls shoes collection/donation.
  • Understand the effect of economic needs and wants on individual and group decisions (Social Studies/History skill). Example: Students will create a Venn diagram with needs on one side and wants on the other. They will list items in each side. The students will discuss what might be in the middle in both groups. (Shoes are a need but getting the expensive designer tennis shoes is a want.)
  • Understand the rights and responsibilities of each citizen and demonstrate the value of lifelong civic action (Political Science/Civic Literacy). Example: Students will learn how to write letters to legislators or other decision-makers about waste- and consumption-related issues. 
  • Understand how physical processes and human actions modify the environment and how the environment affects humans (Social Studies/Geography skill). Example: Through participation in classroom activities, students will demonstrate they are responsible for pollution and pollution prevention. 
  • Understand the use of geographic tools to locate and analyze information about people, places and environments (Social Studies/Geography skill). Example: Students will use resources such as Material World: A Global Family Portrait, World Population posters and life cycle charts to understand the differences in consumption and waste habits of individuals around the globe.
  • Understand the influences on individual and group behavior and decision making (Social Studies). Example: Students will read books such as The Gift of Nothing and Wartville Wizard and participate in activities such as Who Polluted the River and discuss what influences individuals and groups in their handling of waste.
  • Understand how to evaluate social research and information (Social Studies Behavioral Sciences essential skill). Example: Students will be exposed to multiple types of information, including a Public Broadcasting Service video, several podcasts, the Bag It! Video, as well as the books Material World, The Old Red Rocking Chair, Wartville Wizard and The Gift of Nothing and learn to evaluate the research and information.



  • Distinguish their own point of view from that of the author of a text (Reading: Informational Texts, 3.6). Example: Students will read an opinion piece about a waste issue and discuss their reactions and personal opinions.
  • Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons (Writing, 3.1). Example: After watching the video, Bag It!, students will write about the reasons to reduce use of plastics, or not, and substantiate.
  • Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic (Writing, 3.7). Example: Students will research life cycles of a product.
  • Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace. Example: The students will research a waste reduction topic and then create a news report to let others know the importance (Speaking and Listening, 3.4) 
  • Create engaging audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate fluid reading at an understandable pace; add visual displays when appropriate to emphasize or enhance certain facts or details. Example: Students will create a voice thread of themselves reading a poem about an environmental issue. They will illustrate the poem by drawing or taking a picture and add that to the voice thread. Parent and classmates will comment on the voice thread (Speaking and Listening, 3.5).
  • Perform dramatic readings and presentations. Example: Students will plan a public service announcement or a commercial about a waste reduction issue. This will be filmed using some technology such as iMovie, with all of the service announcements put together. This iMovie could be shown at parent-teacher conferences (Speaking and Listening, IA.4).
  • Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail (Speaking and Listening, 3.3). Example: Students will tour a landfill and ask questions, then be able to provide details about the landfill.


21st Century Skills

  • Demonstrate behaviors that foster healthy, active lifestyles for individuals and the benefit of society (21st Century Health Literacy essential skill). Example: Students will learn the value of recycling, reusing and—most importantly—reduction, and the environmental benefits of such actions. If past workshops are indicators of the behavior changes that may occur in the students in 2014 and 2015, some will get their families to start recycling at home. Classrooms of students may opt to forgo the purchase of club or sport t-shirts after they learn about the lifecycle of a t-shirt.


Note: Iowa students can learn a host of other skills not listed above, including many more 21st Century Skills, using materials from the workshops.


For more information on the Iowa Core, NGSS and STEM, click below: