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New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection


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


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheets

Regional Focus

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



Ecological Design Challenge: Cape May Court House

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  • In this activity, students will design a plan to stabilize and enhance the tidal estuary of the Green Creek Watershed, where it meets the Delaware Bay. 
  • This area was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and the plan must include the creation of a dune that will protect and enhance the wildlife habitat and a method for monitoring the site. 
  • This activity is based on one of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's Living Shorelines projects. 
Teaching Tips


  • This project encourages students to use their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • The activity is based on a real location with real challenges.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers may want to discuss the types of sustainable structures 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 projects.
  • 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.
  • Engineering and design classes could pair with science and biology classes to come up with joint solutions that incorporate the habitat requirements, ecosystem benefits, and physical requirements of the project.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video about sea level rise in New Jersey and this interactive map from NASA showing annual sea levels for the world.
Scientist Notes
The resource is ideal to spur students to design solutions to protect shorelines and watersheds from potential superstorms surge and build an effective mechanism to monitor the impact of the solutions. This is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
      • 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.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Related Resources


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