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New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection


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


Science, Biology, Engineering, Computer Science

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheets

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Northeast, New Jersey, Jersey Shore



Ecological Design Challenge: Atlantic City

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  • In this activity, students will design a plan to stabilize the shoreline and reduce flood damage in Gardner's Basin, New Jersey.
  • The plans must include criteria for successful completion and ideas for how the site will be monitored. 
  • This activity is a part of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection's educational program, Building Ecological Solutions for Coastal Community Hazards.
Teaching Tips


  • This activity gives students a chance to use design thinking skills to solve real-world problems.
  • The instructions and images of the actual site are included in the PDF.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers may want to discuss types of structural features that can help prevent flooding and erosion before students begin the activity.
  • This NJ DEP site provides photographs, site assessments, permitting documents, and other information about the Atlantic City Gardner's Basin Living Shorelines project.
  • Teachers may want to share this rubric with students so students are clear about the teacher's expectations for the activity.


  • Students could work individually, in pairs, or in small groups.
  • Teachers could extend the activity into a larger project, including three-dimensional models, posters, slideshows, or diagrams to explain their plans.
  • Biology classes could make a food web to show how horseshoe crabs, red knots, and pollinators fit into Gardner's Basin's ecosystem.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video that explains how a New Jersey community built a flood prevention plan, this video on sea level rise and flooding in coastal New Jersey, and this interactive map of flooding in New Jersey.
Scientist Notes
The resource is suitable to engage students on shoreline stabilization, monitoring, and ecological designs to protect shorelines and humans from the adverse effects of storms and other natural disasters. This challenge is highly recommended for the classroom.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS.ESS2.5 Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS.ETS1.4 Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
      • HS.ETS1.2 Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
      • HS.ETS1.3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS.LS2.7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
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