Science and Children >  > Environmental Technology is an Ancient Science > For the Classroom 

FOR THE CLASSROOM

ARCHITECTURE

These activities align with the following National Science Education Standard:
Content Standard C: Life Science--Organisms and Their Environments

Here are four mini activities that students can complete:

  • Across what is now the United States, Native peoples developed styles of architecture that reflected their environments and their cultural values. Referring to library resources, have students explore the home-building styles of the peoples listed below and prepare an illustrated report addressing the following questions:

    How did the climate affect peoples' need for shelter and the types of animals and plants that could be found in the area?

    Was there a need for seasonal housing?

    What were their major sources of food and water? Did the people hunt or farm?

    Did they require temporary portable shelter or more permanent structures?

    Did the people live in isolated family groups or in communal areas?

    Was it necessary to develop defensive fortifications for protection from raiders?

    What happened to the homes when families expanded through marriage?

     

    Groups of interest include the moundbuilder tribes of the Southeast, who built earthwork mounds; the Cahokia of southern Illinois, who built cities with palisades (wooden fortifications), plazas, markets, and ballcourts; Algonquins, who lived in wigwams; Ipiutak, who constructed igloos; Seminoles, who built pavilions in the Everglades; the Iroquois who built longhouses in the Northeast; and Plains tribes, such as the Sioux, Comanche, and Cheyenne, who developed the buffalo skin tepee.

     

  • How does our architecture today reflect the way individual communities adapt to the environment? Have students research how homes are built in different regions of the country and then construct dioramas to illustrate various styles.
  • Have students research modern home-building technologies that are energy-efficient. Ask them, What new materials are being developed to improve energy efficiency? What makes a solar home "active" or "passive"? What are the advantages and disadvantages of building a home partly underground?
  • Invite a representative from a Native American group to speak about how contemporary Native Americans blend their traditional community practices with modern conveniences, demands, and personal desires.

AGRICULTURE

These activities align with the following National Science Education Standards:
Content Standard C: Life Science--Organisms and Their Environments
Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science--Properties of Earth Materials

In addition to the activities described in other sections of this article, try the following exercises for further study.

  • Compose a photographic essay documenting local agricultural concerns, such as soil condition, erosion, or irrigation needs. Choose one of these concerns to research and then present possible approaches to alleviate or correct the problem.
  • Invite an agent from the county's agricultural extension department and interview her about the importance of agriculture to the local economy.
  • Find the agricultural zone for your area. Determine the average number of frost-free days and the average amount of rainfall for this zone. With a seed catalog, develop a chart that displays the types of vegetables and flowers that would grow well in that climate. Which of these would be affected by a 10 percent decrease in rainfall? What plants would grow well if adaptive technologies, such as protective breaks, mulches, or irrigation, were put into action?
  • Borrow a soil-testing kit and pH meter from a local greenhouse. Take soil samples from the school grounds or students' homes, analyze them, and graph the results. If students were to grow a garden, what would be necessary to prepare the soil?
  • If space permits, have students plant a small garden to take advantage of their research. Try growing some of the seed varieties of corn, squash, and beans traditionally planted by Native Americans.

HISTORICAL RESEARCH

The following activity aligns with the following Curriculum Standard for Social Studies:
Strand 3: People, Places, and Environment

Select a historic site in your community that has not yet been interpreted for the public. Many of the sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, although deemed significant, have not yet been interpreted. Request the list of cultural resources worthy of preservation from your state's historic preservation officer. As a class project, write an interpretive pamphlet for a site and illustrate it with historic photographs or original artwork by students. Work with local historians, residents, and government officials to research the history of the site. Link the project to science learning by investigating historic technologies used at the site. Ask for financial support from your school's PTA, the local chamber of commerce, local government, or your area's historical society. Distribute your completed pamphlet at public libraries, community centers, courthouses, tourist bureaus, and, if possible, at the site itself. This activity will hold even more meaning for students if the site selected for interpretation relates to their own cultural heritage.

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