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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, North Jersey



Ecological Design Challenge: Secaucus

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  • In this activity, students will design a plan to restore a tidal drainage ditch in Secaucus, New Jersey that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
  • The plans must not damage the adjacent wetlands and 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 for 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 communicate 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 posters, slideshows, or diagrams to explain their plans.
  • Engineering and design classes could build models (physical or digital) to understand how the current debris, vegetation, and soil are impeding the tidal flow and what elements must be removed to improve the flow.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video on updating infrastructure to prevent flooding in the NJ Meadowlands, this New Jersey flood mapper, and this fact sheet on climate change in New Jersey.
Scientist Notes
The resource contains activities that would challenge students to create a plan to address the impact of tidal flooding on shorelines and develop resilience strategies for shoreline habitat and sustainability. This is ideal for classroom use.

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

  • 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.
    • 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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