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Infrastructure Lessons

High School Infrastructure Lesson Units

The GPC's new Infrastructure Lesson Series for use by high school teachers was made possible through a National Science Foundation grant.

Developed by Donald Hill, Lee Swenson, Ginger-Gleich Jackson, Samuel Lepler, and Molly Boesiger under the supervision of Stanford Global Projects Center Director and Professor Dr. Raymond Levitt, the following lessons can be used to introduce infrastructure in a high school history, government, or economics class. 

Unit Overview

Lesson One: What Does the California Water Project Tell Us About Public Works Infrastructures?

This one-day lesson begins with a brief examination of the 2012 “UCLA Water Main Break”. By focusing on a sudden and unexpected failure like this, students will begin to understand the many ways we are dependent upon our water infrastructure for basic human and social needs. After this brief introduction,  students will learn a definition of infrastructure.  For the remainder of the lesson, they will return to the UCLA water main break by examining how the California Water Project brings water from Northern California down to the houses and businesses in Los Angeles using dams, aqueducts, and municipal water systems. 

Lesson Two: What are the Key Types of Infrastructure in Our Community and the United States Today?

This one-day lesson both builds awareness of different types of infrastructure and challenges students to think about how infrastructure impacts their personal lives. Students should be able to do the following at the end of the lesson: Identify eight types of infrastructure and list two examples for each of these types. Describe at least one way how their personal lives are impacted by each of the eight types of infrastructure introduced. The goal of this lesson is to open students' eyes to the many kinds of infrastructure that impact their lives every day.

Lesson Three: Should Highways be Financed and Funded by Public-Private Partnerships?

This one-day lesson introduces the concept of public-private partnerships (P3s) and facilitates understanding surrounding the potential of P3s to contribute to the financing and funding of infrastructure needs. The lesson begins with a student activity that spotlights value conflicts involved with infrastructure financing and funding decisions and an assessment of P3s for infrastructure financing and funding. The lesson concludes with a case study that asks students to look at four different approaches to the financing and funding of a new, 25-mile highway section of highway and then make a recommendation for the one that best serves the public.