Bogotá: Building a Sustainable City
Affordable Green Housing

Educators: Subject areas include high school social studies, language arts, and design/architecture.


1. Read the background essays and discussion questions for the episodes Bogotá: Building a Sustainable City and Affordable Green Housing. Watch the episodes and discuss the post-viewing questions.

2. For one week, create a community and culture journal: Take time to be more aware of your surroundings. Write down all your observations about your town or city as you go to school everyday, spend time in your neighborhood, go out at night, take transportation, etc. Be specific in your notes. Questions to consider include:

• What types of public places are available, including bike paths, parks, public transportation, etc? Are they being used? Are they safe? Clean?
• What types of people are using the public places (e.g., young, old, children, students, families)?
• How many people are out walking around? Inside cars? Do people drive a lot or take public transportation? What about bikes?
• What are some of the places within walking distance of your home and school (e.g. stores, parks, theaters, community centers)?
• What types of people (e.g., young, old, students, etc.) are present in the places you go outside school? Do you feel there is a sense of diversity?
• Do you feel safe in your town and community? Why or why not?
• Who are your neighbors? Do you spend time talking with them?
• Is there a particular culture to the people or buildings you observe?
• Are the buildings you spend time in inviting? Is there diversity in the design?
• Do you spend most of your time indoors or outside?

3. After noting your observations, partner up with one other person or in groups to discuss your notes. Did the journal exercise make you think any differently about your interaction with other people and your environment? Were you more aware of the thread of culture possibly present? Do you wish there were more or less public places? What about the design? Have you spent time in another city that was very different from your own? If so, what did you like and not like about it?

4. Write an essay about your findings and responses to the journal exercise above, including your discussion answers in section two. What would you design or re-design in your city or community (e.g., transportation, public spots, neighborhood)? How and why? Include what you currently enjoy about your city and community, and any changes you think you could make to interact more with the natural environment and the people in your community.

5. Exchange your essay with classmates and teachers. Share your essay with your peers and community through the school newspaper, local papers, and/or Web logs.


Civic Standard 11.2: Knows different viewpoints regarding the role and value of diversity in American life.

Working With Others Standard 1: Contributes to the overall effort of a group.

Language Arts Standard 1.10: Writes descriptive compositions (e.g., uses concrete details to provide a perspective on the subject being described; uses supporting detail [concrete images, shifting perspectives and vantage points, sensory detail, and factual descriptions of appearance]).

Standard 1.11: Writes reflective compositions (e.g., uses personal experience as a basis for reflection on some aspect of life, draws abstract comparisons between specific incidents and abstract concepts, maintains a balance between describing incidents and relating them to more general abstract ideas that illustrate personal beliefs, moves from specific examples to generalizations about life).

Engineering Education Standard 14.4: Understands how societal interests, economics, ergonomics, and environmental considerations influence a solution.

Standard 17.6: Understands tradeoffs among characteristics such as safety, function, cost, ease of operation, quality of post-purchase support, and environmental impact when selecting systems for specific purposes.

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