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Girl MonitoringHow will you act on what you have learned about the issues affecting the Lake Superior Basin to help solve similar problems in your community?

The purpose of the ACT section is to provide a toolbox of ideas to help you create service learning project that you are interested in doing and match it to an issue you want to tackle. Once you get a service learning activity in mind, go back to the CREATE section to more fully develop your project.

As part of designing your project, consider the needs and interests of the community where the service learning project will be conducted. A good service learning project creates interest and a deeper understanding in an issue. It provides service to an individual or the community by bringing new awareness or perspectives on an issue. The project may encourage others to take action or adopt new behaviors that will help solve the issue.


Types of Service Learning

Act Learning
Direct service learning projects involve personal contact with community members to engage their interest in an issue.

There are types of service learning experiences to consider as you plan your experience. No type is more important than the other. What is important is that you design an experience that you will feel comfortable in doing and that you will act upon and complete.


Direct Service Learning: includes projects that involve personal contact or face-to-face interaction between you and the people you are serving. Direct service learning encourages personal responsibility, caring for others, dependability, interpersonal skills, problem-solving. Examples include:

Act Learning
Indirect service learning projects often channel resources to the problem or areas of need to increase community understanding and involvement, rather than working directly with other individuals.
Indirect Service Learning:
  • Compiling a watershed history and making it available to the community
  • Creating interpretive/informational signs to help the public understand an issue
  • Removing exotic plants and restoring ecosystems to prepare and preserve areas for public use
  • Developing a community recycling program or a clean sweep program
Act Learning
Research an issue and apply what you have learned within your community through a research-based service learning project.

Research-Based Service Learning: includes projects where you conduct research and present the results to others. This type of service learning builds skill in finding answers and information, making discriminating judgments, assessing and evaluating information, and testing hypotheses. Examples include:

  • Researching the effectiveness of a community recycling program and developing a plan to improve community participatio.
  • Conducting studies of local bodies of water; water quality monitoring and sharing the results
  • Gathering information on how an environmental issue is affecting your community and creating a brochures or a videos to inform others about the issue and what they can do
  • Research the issue of invasive species in your community, map and monitor where they are found, and share your findings with local resource managers
Act Learning

An advocacy service learning project might make engage elected officals and citizens to take specific action on an issue and are often done through a political process.


Advocacy Service Learning: includes projects that engage others in an issue, but more actively supports or advocates specific actions that should be taken to help resolve it. Advocacy service learning is often done within a political process. This type of service learning builds an understanding rules, political systems and processes; how to engage citizens and work with adults. Examples include:

  • Planning and presenting a public forums on an issue affecting the health of your watershed
  • Conducting a public information campaign to advocate alternative energy use
  • Working with elected officials to draft legislation to reduce non-point pollution
From Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction Service Learning.




Here are some ideas you can use to design a service learning project to help solve the critical issues and make the Lake Superior Basin or your community more sustainable.

You can mix and match ideas, with the issue that you are interested in, to create your own unique service learning experience.

Once you have a project idea, return to the CREATE and develop the curriculum for your own service learning experience.



The Demise of the "Nasty 9" critical pollutants will require action by businesses and governments, but you can help.

Consider developing a service learning projects to teach others how to reduce critical pollutants and reduce the amount of these chemicals in your community. The effects of critical pollutants directly influence several other important issues including the health of aquatic and terrestrial environments and human health.

Here are some ideas to get you started designing a service learning project to help reduce critical pollutants:

Eliminate Burning Barrels

Burn Barrels
Develop a program to educate your community about the dangers of burning barrels. Backyard garbage may be a particularly important dioxin source in the primarily rural Lake Superior Basin.

Support your local units of government adopting burn barrel ordinances.

Develop an educational display to teach others about an issue and what they can do to help.

Develop a program that encourages your family or community to recycle instead of dumping all trash in the garbage.

Develop an educational program on dangers of toxic household and yard chemicals and the non-toxic alternatives.


Reduce Critical Pollutants

Organize Green School programs, including Energy Star, Blueprint for a Green Campus program, and others.

Conduct a community mercury reduction education project

tempEncourage school purchasing policies that would stop use of products that might include mercury equipment or PCB equipment (e.g., boilers, buildings, vehicles, electrical equipment and laboratory equipment) and that would phase out and safely dispose of existing mercury or PCB-containing items.

Conduct a mercury thermometer swap program where mercury thermometers are exchanged for non-mercury-bearing ones such as digital thermometers.

Organize a mercury collection program in your school.

No HgTake action to make your school or community mercury free.

Work with hospitals to discontinue the practice of sending mercury thermometers home with new mothers and instead use non-mercury thermometers and distribute information on the hazards of mercury in the home and the actions that families can take to limit their exposure.

Test your drinking water for critical pollutants. Get started with a list of WI certified testing labs that provide services in your community.

Clean SweepPromote and participate in a community "Clean Sweep" program, to collect and recycle products containing critical pollutants batteries, paints, fluorescent lamps, thermostats, pressure-testing equipment, dental amalgam, laboratory reagents, agricultural pesticides and others. Do not throw these items in the trash or burn them because it will cause the release of mercury back into the environment.

Buy products that are free of mercury, dioxin, and other persistent toxic chemicals. They are safer for you, your family, and the environment.

Encourage your school to buy chlorine-free paper products whenever possible. This provides the economic incentive for pulp and paper mills to develop processing policies that require levels of the nine critical pollutants are extremely low.

Create a plan to conserve water. Water conservation can lead to increased performance and efficiency of treatment plants and decreased energy use, leading to reduction in operation and decreased energy use.

Adopt your watershed. Learn more about your watershed and develop a service learning projects to improve community stewardship of these resources using some cool tools.

Research the status of a Lake Superior's Superfund site or a Superfund site in your state or community. Find out what is being done to clean them up and share the story with others.



Got a car? Recycle your old oil and promote coummunity waste oil collection programs.

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Rebuy

Develop an education program to get students to foster a conservation attitude rather than a consumer attitude

Make your school GREEN. Develop a school recycling program including the purchase of recycled materials

Encourage your school to adopt "Zero Discharge Campus" program in your school.

Help your community develop a battery recycling program


"White goods" is the term used to describe old appliances like washers, and dryers which usually were painted white.

Organize a community a "white goods" collection program to properly dispose of old appliances.

RecycleTeach others how about what they can do to be environmental consumers. Discover some consumer tips that you can share at home and in your community.

Encourage the purchase of Fair Trade products that support local producers and protect the environment.


Conserve EnergyReduce Energy Consumption

Develop a plan to conserve energy at home and school. It's not only a good idea today with today's high cost of fuel, but burning fossil fuels, particularly coal, to produce energy releases mercury and dioxin into the atmosphere. Fuel combustion is the second largest source of mercury emissions within the Lake Superior Basin. Because technologies to control mercury emissions are not currently available to substantially reduce mercury pollution from this source, one of the ways we can help is to reduce the amount of energy that needs to be produced. Energy conservation decreases the demand for energy, lowers the amount of fuel burned, and reduces the amount of mercury emission.

Replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL will keep a half-ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb. If everyone in the U.S. used energy-efficient light, we could retire 90 average size power plants. Saving electricity reduces C)2 emissions, sulfer oxide and high-level nuclear waste.

Replace old fluorescent lamps at home or at school with new Compact Florescent Lights (CFLs). Properly dispose of the old lights at a community Clean Sweep.

Purchase the most energy efficient appliances as possible for your home, school, and business. Ask your local utility company about their energy conservation programs such as the 5-Star Energy Program.

Develop a service learning project to encourage the use alternative energy when possible such as low mercury fuels, natural gas, solar, wind.

The KEEP program will guide you in developing a school energy program.

Conduct an energy audit at your home and school with this cool do-it-yourself progra. to save money, energy, and reduce pollution.

Encourage local officials to create a municipal energy or climate control council or climate control. such as the Duluth Citizen's Energy Council.

Research the costs and benefits of alternative energy (e.g. low mercury fuels, natural gas, solar, wind) for your home or community.

Develop a wood stove exchange program to swap older less efficient to new more combustion-efficient stoves which reduces the amount of air toxic emissions.

Solar PanelsEducate your family, schools, elected officials, and businesses about how they can

incorporate energy conservation measures into new homes and buildings or when older buildings are remodeled.

Encourage homes, schools, and businesses to convert from coal burning to a natural gas energy source. It's cleaner burning and contributes fewer pollutants to the environment.


Eliminate Persistent Pesticides

PlantAdopt an Integrated Pest Management Program in your school to reduce the use of pesticides.

Adopt organic gardening or yard care practices in your school. Check with your local University Extension Office for helpful resources.

Support organic farming by purchasing organic products.

Educate others about using organic alternatives to pesticides. There are some great alternatives to using chemical pesticides for gardening, home pest control, and farming.




Lake Superior Pathfinders student monitor aquatic invertebrates as an indicator of water quality.

Give Water A Hand and develop a community projects to improve your local water quality.

Map and monitor the location of invasive species in your community. Share your findings with resource managers.

Develop a project to restore a native species in your community.

Volunteer to help monitor stream water quality or develop a water education project within the Lake Superior Basin or your community's watershed.

Stencil the storm drains in your community to help keep pollutants from being dumped down them.

Organize a river clean up and analyze what you collect.

Organize a beach-sweep to help make these recreations areas safe for people and restore the natural habitat.

Restore a shoreline to improve aquatic habitat for fish and wildlife.

Build a rain barrel or a rain garden to demonstrate how to stop runoff of pollutants into the Lake.

Rain barrels and rain gardens reduce stormwater runoff and the amount of pollutants being washed into lakes and streams.


Rain BarrelRain Garden
Rain barrels and rain gardens reduce stormwater runoff and the acount of pollutants being washed into lakes and streams.



GroupCheck out the REFLECT section for more great ideas for "Connecting the Coasts" service learning projects developed by other students .


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