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This is a lesson on how communities have adapted to the environment. Students will understand that people need to make unlivable areas livable by diverting resources.
Main Curriculum Tie:
Background For Teachers:
Student Prior Knowledge:
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Vocabulary: natural resources, economic development, community development, recreation, natural resource extraction, agriculture, irrigation
Day one - Teacher fill bowl 1/2 with sand and then place the lego house on top of sand. Teacher has student hold PVC pipe end over bowl. Teacher pours water through the pipe onto the sand and asks "Why would we pour water into a sandy desert?" Students can pair share possible answers and share with class. Teacher should observe that the water has settled to the bottom of the bowl, noting that sand cannot hold water effectively and so pumping water into a desert isn't efficient.
Teacher asks, "Is a desert a place where natural human settlements are desirable?" Let the students ponder their answers and note that people DO live in deserts. Divide students into groups and ask,as a pre-assessment, "What do humans do to make it possible to live in a desert?" Have the groups list 4-5 things that humans do to modify deserts to make them livable. Teacher compiles the lists, writing them on the board or a large piece of paper and briefly discusses each modification - focus on how much each modification impacts the environment.
Next, the teacher uses the list and has the students rank which situations most affect or change the environment. The teacher writes the top 5 down, and then leads a discussion on what could be done differently to lessen the impact on the resources. For example, if homes in the desert have lawns with Kentucky Blue Grass (which is meant to be grown where there is a lot of water), those lawns could either be xeriscaped or planted with water-wise grass and plants. This discussion is exactly what the students will need to have in their groups to accomplish their final assessment, so model the thought process out loud. End of day one.
Day Two - Look at a globe or map of the world and ask the students to brainstorm where the last place is you would think humans would live (Antarctica, the Sahara Desert, Greenland, sub-Saharan Africa, etc.) and then use Google Earth to look at those areas to see those places and see what traces of human habitations exist. Discuss what these humans have done to make these places livable, but don't get too involved because the students will need to discover specific adaptations as their final assessment.
Divide the students into groups or let them work individually and assign a region of the world that seems inhospitable.Regions are plains, tropic, tundra, grassland, mountain, forests and wetlands. Have them use books, encyclopedias, and whatever sources you have available to help them research the environments, focusing on specific ways humans have changed the environment to make it more livable.(see booklist tab on 3rd grade resources)
It may take a couple of days to do a thorough job of researching the environment and creating their project.
Provide each group with a rubric discussing what they need to find out about human interaction on an environment.
One of the requirements is that the group or individual will teach their findings to the class in a creative and engaging manner of their choosing. Some possible project ideas include making a diorama, poster, encyclopedia entry, dictionary or glossary, 3-D lego (or similar) creation, a book or magazine entry including illustrations, picture book, etc.
You can provide suggestions but the ultimate decision is for the group or individual. The teacher should provide an example of how humans have changed the desert because the desert will not be one of the environments the students explore. Explain that the students cannot COPY the example, but show how the example meets the requirements of the rubric.
Last day - students present their information and grade each other using the rubric.
Strategies For Diverse Learners:
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