• Views 66
  • Favorites
Photo via Unsplash


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: Spring Lake

Ask a Question

  • In this activity, students will design a plan to build a vegetated embankment to stabilize the shoreline and reduce flood damage in Spring Lake, 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 project.
  • Teachers may want to share this rubric with students to provide clear 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 research native plants that have deep enough root systems to keep the vegetated embankment from eroding that can also withstand periodic flooding.
  • Science students could discuss the following questions:
    • Is it better to use one type of plant on the embankment or a variety of plants?
    • Should the embankment be planted with full-grown plants or is it better to use seedlings?
    • Are any of the plants susceptible to being eaten by animals or succumbing to disease?
  • Other resources on this topic include this TED-Ed video on the dangers of invasive species and this game where students build a town while preserving the health of a lake.
Scientist Notes
Students will be able to think creatively to innovate ecological solutions to stabilize shorelines from tidal flooding and storm surges. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • 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.
  • Related Resources


    Login to leave a review