|Take a Trip |
These activities align with the following National Science Education Standard: Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives—Populations, resources, and environments.
Time required: Will vary depending on extent of research; would probably work best as a long-term project (a week or more)
Whether they have visited the Rocky Mountains or not, students might like to plan their own imaginary trip there. To prepare for this activity, you and your students could write to state tourism boards in the Rocky Mountain states to request guides to tourist attractions and activities. Numerous websites can also assist with planning. (Try www.recreation.gov, for example.) Encourage students to think about all the recreational opportunities that abound in the mountains. Then have each student choose one activity, which will be the focus of a week-long adventure in the Rocky Mountains.
Encourage students to use their imaginations and their creative writing skills to describe their "trip." Have them describe where in the Rocky Mountains they went, what they saw, what they did when they got there, and why they chose this particular activity and location. Remind students to use descriptive adjectives and adverbs when writing about their imaginary experiences. If desired, you could add some math to this exercise by having students come up with a budget for their trip. Students could look into the cost of airfares, camping or lodging fees, supplies they would need, and so on.
A Mixed Blessing
Tourism is big business in the Rocky Mountains, but with it can come big problems. Crowded campgrounds, damage caused by off-road vehicles, habitat loss caused by resort construction—these are just a few examples of ways that tourism can affect the mountain environment. Encourage your students to research ways in which their particular recreational choice (in the activity above) can have an impact on the environment of the Rocky Mountains. They might investigate how public land managers deal with some of these problems and how individuals can take personal responsibility for reducing the impact of their recreational pursuits. For ideas on this subject, they could consult the websites of Leave No Trace (www.lnt.org) or Tread Lightly! (www.treadlightly.org). Next, have students consider ways in which they can inform others about this issue. Perhaps they could prepare posters or write mock newspaper articles describing the situation.
Come for a Visit, but…
The Rocky Mountains attract not only tourists but plenty of people who want to stay in the area. Easy access to recreational opportunities is just one of the reasons why the population of several Rocky Mountain states has risen dramatically in recent years. Have students consult the website of the U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov) for more information on this topic. Students could compile charts and graphs to illustrate the data they find.