The Geography of Land Planning

Lisa Gardiner
Office of Education and Outreach, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
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Students use simplified maps to plan towns, being conscious of water resources, and then learn how their town fits into the larger watershed.
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Upper elementary and middle school classrooms

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:

Some introduction to water pollution issues and conservation of wetlands is a good idea.

How the activity is situated in the course:

National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:

National Science Education Standards, Content Standard A (Partial Inquiry), Content Standard F (Science in Personal and Social Perspectives), Content Standard D (Structure of the Earth System)


Content/concepts goals for this activity:

Students learn what services and resources a town needs and that land planning to protect water resources is important.
Students learn that land planning is most effective if done over a large area and with the cooperation of many communities.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:

Other skills goals for this activity:

Group decision-making skills

Description of the activity/assignment

Middle school students can gain essential understandings of the Earth and its processes in the classroom by making and manipulating simple models. While no substitute for field experiences, simple models made of easily-obtained materials can foster student understanding of natural environments. Through this hands-on activity, student groups simulate communities living within a watershed and act as city planners to develop their land. Students explore how human communities within a watershed are interconnected through use of surface water. This classroom activity is available on Windows to the Universe (, a project of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Office of Education and Outreach.

Determining whether students have met the goals

After completing the activity, students (or student groups) write letters to the leaders of neighboring towns about what they would like to see changed and why.

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