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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: Upper Township

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  • In this activity, students will design a plan to stabilize the saltmarsh shoreline, reduce tidal flood damage, and restore habitat in Strathmere, Upper Township.
  • 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 Building Ecological Solutions to Coastal Community Hazards educational program. 
Teaching Tips


  • This activity gives students a chance to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to address 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 present 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. Students could work individually, in pairs, or in small groups.
  • Engineering or design classes could focus on designing the structural features for the public access boat ramp located at the Bayview Avenue site.
  • Biology classes could use this activity for lessons about marshes, wetlands, or coastal environments.
  • Other resources on this topic include this article on solutions for protecting coastal communities, this interactive mapping tool on coastal resilience in New Jersey, and this video on chronic flooding in New Jersey.
Scientist Notes
This resource is ideal for students to design engineering and sustainability solutions to address storm surge and other environmental stressors on shorelines and other ecologically-sensitive habitats. This is recommended for classroom use.
  • Science
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS.ETS1.1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
      • 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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