iPlan: Mapping the Future!

Teenage students working at row of computers. Teacher appears to be helping one student, as they look at the monitor together.

Through iPlan, middle and high school students are introduced to the complex socio-ecological systems of municipalities, the importance of civic engagement, and the role land-use planning plays in the development of sustainable communities. By researching topics surrounding land use and climate change, users begin to understand various issues surrounding human interaction with the natural world.

Based on real data and real maps, the goal of iPlan is to create a climate adaptation plan for a chosen region of the United States in a way that will please as many stakeholders as possible. The new land-use strategy must address the needs of citizens, organizations, and businesses in the area. Users are tasked with balancing the needs of three stakeholder groups, representing a Local Business Consortium, an Environmental Justice Center, and a Community Coalition. The challenge is to please as many stakeholders as possible; responding to their differing , and sometimes conflicting, needs and desires, and finding a way forward that meets the overall goals of the community.

iPlan can be used in a variety of learning situations, and has applications in Civics, Environmental Studies, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, and Language Arts. It can be run for as little as an hour or two, or can be integrated into existing curriculum. It can be the basis of an entire unit, or an extra enrichment activity. iPlan works on many platforms, including laptops, chromebooks, smartphones, and tablets.

Science and Engineering Practices Supported:

  • Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  • Developing and using models
  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

iPlan is an innovative way of augmenting environmental studies, STEM inquiry, and civic action. Developed at the Epistemic Analytics lab in the Wisconsin Center for Education research at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, iPlan is distributed by Mass Audubon to educators around the United States.

If you intend to use iPlan, please fill out this quick FORM so we can keep track of participation. Thank you!

Questions? education@massaudubon.org