National Parks: Land, History, Culture
A Web Quest by
Andrew S. Basler
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Teachers | Credits
In 1872, the land of Yellowstone in Wyoming and Montana was set aside as a National Park, the countries first. By the early 1900's, there were some thirty national parks and monuments under the control of the US Department of Interior. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill enacting the National Park Service under the direction of the Department of the Interior. Under the National Park Service, the number of National Parks grew rapidly. Today, these national parks preserve the land of a different era. Stretching from coast to coast, the parks are time capsules of past American culture, and contain thousands of acres of preserved wilderness. Exploring the many national parks is a good way to learn about America's unique geography, history, and culture.
In this Web Quest, you will be divided into groups. Each group will use the internet to research the geography, history, and culture of a specific National Park. After the research is finished, you will give a class presentation where you share what you learned to the rest of the class. Your presentation should be between 7 and 10 minutes long, and show evidence of your research. In addition, you will be required to make a visual aid (poster board, power point, handout, etc). Below is a list of potential parks to research. Before beginning the process, view the Evaluation Rubric so you are aware of what the grade is based on.
Great Smokey Mountains Natl. Park
Glacier Natl. Park
Acadia Natl. Park
Arches Natl. Park
Badlands Natl. Park
Biscayne Natl. Park
Brice Canyon Natl. Park
Yosemite Natl. Park
Yellowstone Natl. Park
1. Before beginning this Web Quest, you will watch the IMAX dvd Yellowstone. This movie will give you some background knowledge on the creation of Yellowstone National Park, the geography, culture, and history. You will need to search for and identify similar topics in your own research.
2. After watching the movie, you will be divided into groups of no more than four, and choose a park to research. If you wish to find a park not listed above, then simply click on the following link for a directory of all national parks: National Park Index
3. After you have chosen your park, find it in the National Park Index and click on your park to bring up a Park-specific website. Along the right column is a list of links to begin your research. If your park has an "In Depth" link, start with that.
4. Remember the primary research goals: Geography, History, and Culture. You may also do your own independent internet searches through the Google Search Engine. History can include both human history and geologic history. Try to answer the following questions in your research:
Where is the national park located?
What geographic features make it unique?
What is the geologic history of the park?
What is the human history of the park (settlers, founders, etc)
What kind of culture is being preserved by the park?
What kind of habitats exist in your park? What animals live there?
How many visitors a year visit the park? What is the most famous landmark?
5. In preparing your class presentation, think about why your park is important. Why is it set aside as special land, and why should people come visit the park? In your presentation, you will try to "sell" your park as a unique destination, using what you have learned in research to promote visitors.
6. In addition to answering the research questions and preparing a class presentation, you should make a visual aid. Power Point, poster board, handouts, and brochures are all good ideas. Whatever option you take, it needs to help promote your National Park as a tour destination, and outline the geology, history, and culture.
7. After your research is completed, prepare a 7 - 10 minute class presentation. The presentation needs to cover the above questions, sell your park as a tour destination, and generally cover the geography, history, and culture of the national park. Every member of the group needs to participate.
You will be evaluated based on the following rubric:
|Oral Presentation Rubric||Possible Points||Self-Assessment||Teacher Assessment|
|Provided depth in coverage of national park. Showed evidence of research. Covered all questions and covered the big three topics; geography, history, culture.||50
|Presentation was well planned and coherent. (Evidence of rehearsal)||10
|Visual Aid (helpful, neat)||10
|Thoroughly answered required questions and "sold" the park as a vacation destination.||10|
|Stayed within the time limit. (7 to 10 minutes)||10|
|Communication Skills (eye contact, posture, clear voice, appropriate volume, transitions between speakers smooth, and all members presented)||10
|Total Possible Points||
Note that half of your grade is based on research, while the other half is based cumulatively on the actual presentation. Make sure that all members participate in both the research and the presentation.
Since the introduction of the National Park Service, thousands of acres of land have been set aside for protection. Learning about these parks is important to understanding the United State's unique geography, history, and culture. National Parks remain an important undisturbed time capsule of how our country used to be.
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Grade Band: 9 - 12, World Geography, US History
Tennessee State Curriculum Standards:
1.1 understand the complex nature of culture and how cultures influence the characteristics of places and regions.
1.2 understand the relationship between physical environments and culture
3.2 know the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment, both physical and human, locally, regionally, and globally
5.1 understand the patterns of human settlement.
5.2 recognize that places change over time
3.2 recognize the areas affected by westward expansion of the United States
Preceding and Ensuing Events of Instruction:
Before beginning the process, the teacher should show the IMAX dvd Yellowstone (available at Amazon.com). The movie will introduce the students to the creation of National Parks, and the significance of the unique geography, history, and culture within National Parks. After the movie is completed, the teacher is responsible for dividing students into groups, and overseeing the selection of a National Park to research. Each group must have internet access. In addition, students might need help navigating the National Park Website, or using the Google Search Engine, so be prepared to help with searches and navigation. If necessary, the teacher may want to substitute the formal class presentations with less formal presentations or a class discussion based on the research.
Learning Improvements and Purpose of Web Quest:
The purpose of this web quest is to introduce students to the various parks of the National Park System, to promote the parks as a unique time capsule of geography, history, and culture, to promote the use of the internet as a viable research tool, to promote group work skills through group interactions, to promote class presentation skills through oral recall and presentation, to enhance student's critical thinking skills through research questions and oral presentation and required decision making. To promote computer and internet literacy. The students will learn about the importance of national parks as preservations of unique regional attributes such as geography, history, and culture. In addition, they will learn the details of a variety of National Parks from all over the country. The students will also learn how to use the internet for research.
Google. (2004). Search Engine. Retrieved March 19, 2004 at http://www.google.com
National Park Service. (2004). National Park Index A - Z. Retrieved March 19, 2004 at http://data2.itc.nps.gov/parksearch/atoz.cfm
Slingshot (1984). Yellowstone: Everything Else is Just a Movie. Toronto, Canada: Imax.
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