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AIR POLLUTION IN the Community

Activity 9 (Evaluate): Public Hearing on Banning

Diesel Trucks in the Community

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Activity Overview

Activity Summary

In this multi-day final activity, students take on the roles of different stakeholders in order to participate in a state committee hearing on whether or not to ban diesel trucks from traveling through residential communities. After taking on a role, they use their notes and additional resources to research their position. Next, they write a statement for their character. Finally, they hold the hearing, with some students acting as committee members who ask questions, and others reading their statements.

Activity Objectives & Materials

Approximate Time: 2-3 class periods (120-180 minutes)​


  • Students will explore and learn different perspectives on public policy related to air quality

  • Students will make arguments based on evidence about whether or not diesel trucks should be banned in the community



  • Role play stakeholder cards (print out and cut up enough so each student has one)

  • Student computers (optional for research and writing statements)

  • Research materials

  • Presentation rubric

  • Final Vote writing rubric

  • Stakeholder cards


Standards Connection

DCI: ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

SEP: Engaging in Argument from Evidence

CCC: Cause & Effect



The stakeholders for a school are the students, teachers, administrators, parents, the government, and interested community members. Based on this list, what do you think a “stakeholder” is?

  • Use responses to help students understand that a stakeholder is someone who has an interest in a particular thing like a business, a policy, etc. That interest is usually based on the fact that it affects their lives in some way – ex. how they earn a living, their health, their future, etc.


1. Frame the Activity

We have spent the last week (or more) studying air pollution in a community, especially air pollution that comes from vehicles like trucks. We studied particulate matter and how it can affect people and a community. Now it is your chance to raise your voice about what we should do about the trucks and the air pollution they create. During the next two days, we are going to role play a fictional scenario of a government hearing to decide if diesel trucks should be banned from traveling through residential communities. First you will learn about all the different stakeholders, from people in the community to truck drivers. After we have learned about our roles, you will hold a meeting to decide whether or not the trucks should be banned. Everyone will participate in the meeting based on the role that you have.

Step 1

2. Introduction the Scenario

Share the role play scenario with students and read it together. Make sure all students understand the details of the scenario. Students should immediately start making connections with what they have learned throughout the module. Do your best to answer any questions students, and feel free to improvise as necessary.

3. Identifying Stakeholders

Ask students what stakeholders they think would be involved in this scenario. Give them a moment to write down a list on their scenario sheets. When they are ready, have students share their ideas, and write them on the board. Use questioning and discussion techniques to help them think of a robust list of potential stakeholders, especially different people that work in the shipping industry or that ship their products with trucks. Also consider everyday citizens, and government officials of the cities, towns, and counties in the state.


Once the stakeholder list is created, tell students that they will each take on the role of one of these stakeholders for this activity. They will have time to learn about their stakeholder, and do some additional planning and research to think about what their stakeholder might say at the meeting.

Step 4

4. Assigning Roles 

Give each student a role card from the scenario (or have them choose one). If any roles you identified earlier in the activity are not on a card, allow students to choose that stakeholder as well. Have students share their role with the class so they all know what roles they are playing. Make sure the State Committee Members know that they will be the ones listening to the other stakeholders during the meeting (they will not write statements).

Differentiation: Consider what roles may be easier or more difficult to play for individual students, and assign those roles accordingly.

5. Researching Roles

Hand out the Role Play Planning sheet, and give students time to develop their characters by:

  • Giving themself a name

  • Talking to other people with similar roles or others who may be able to provide information for them. For example, citizens may want to talk to the health researchers or the environmental scientists

  • Deciding if they want the committee to vote for or against the ban

  • Doing research on diesel trucks (see handout for details)

  • Creating a written statement that they will read, or points that they would like to make, including their position. (Note: Committee members should create questions to ask the other stakeholders during the meeting.)

Advance Planning: You may want to have some resources available to assist students with their research including articles (see materials) or websites. Remind students to look back in their notes for information as well. A fact sheet from the Maryland 2015 Strategic Goods Movement Plan is attached and may be helpful to some stakeholders.

Getting into the Role Play: Consider different ways that you can help students get into their roles. For example, you may get name tags and have students put their fake name and role on the name tag so they can more easily identify one another.

6. Writing Statements

Once students have finished their research, have them write a statement from their character’s point of view. Encourage them to think of what arguments their character would make, either in favor of or against the ban. They should use information from their research to support their statements.

Modification: If you have a large class, consider having students with similar roles work in pairs to deliver a joint statement.

7. Preparing for the Hearing

The day of the hearing, the teacher will play the role of a state official who will run the meeting but who does not have a vote at the end. Before starting the meeting, make sure all students are prepared to participate (they have notes, a prepared statement, etc.) Arrange the classroom so that the committee members can sit facing the rest of the class. Provide a place for stakeholders to speak from. You may want to create a sign-up sheet so that you can call on stakeholders when it is their turn. Hand out the notes sheet to students and tell them that they will be writing their own letter or decision (whether or not to ban the trucks) after the meeting, so they are required to take notes during the meeting on reasons for or against the ban.

8. Hold the Hearing

Call the meeting to order, and provides a brief statement about what the meeting is for. Tell stakeholders that they will come up to the podium, tell everyone their name and what their role is, and then make their statement. Committee members may have questions for them. A government official (the teacher) will keep track of time.


During the meeting, you may choose to use the rubric below to assess students on their statement, including their answers to questions that the council members ask. If necessary, you can prompt the council members to ask questions, or you can ask yourself. Keep time to make sure the meeting moves forward and all students have a chance to present. Council members can be assessed based on how well they ask appropriate questions and interact with the presenters.

Modification: Instead of (or along with) having some students act as committee members, have experts on the topic (ex. government officials, researchers, etc.) join the class for the hearing to act as committee members.

Module 3 Presentation Rubric.jpg

9. After the Hearing

Thank all the students for their participation in the committee meeting. Tell them that they will have the next period (or more) to write their final statement about whether the permit should be approved or not (see next activity). They should write the statement from their own perspective, not the perspective of their characters. After all the assignments have been turned in, they will tally the votes to see whether the permit is approved or not.

10. Casting Their Votes

Provide students with the final writing prompt to do either in class, or at home. The writing prompt asks students to vote for or against the ban, and then use evidence from the committee meeting and the rest of this investigation to support their decision. Their evidence should include:

  • What particulate matter is and how it affects the human body

  • Where particulate matter comes from

  • Any additional details required to support your argument for or against banning diesel trucks from residential neighborhoods

Review the prompt with students, and review the writing rubric with them (it is very similar to the


Tallying the Votes: Don’t forget to tally the votes at the end of the module to let the students know the results of their hearing!

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