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Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever visited a national or state park? Which park or parks? When did you visit? What is your most vivid memory of the visit?
  2. Is it important to preserve certain areas of exceptional natural or historic significance? Why or why not?
  3. The national park system is supported by a combination of federal tax dollars and private donations through the National Park Foundation. Is supporting a system of national parks a good way to use tax dollars? Why or why not?
  4. Why do you think the United States government was the first national government to develop a national park system?
  5. What criteria should be used to decide if an area should be given the status of a national park? Is there a place in Kentucky that you would like to see protected as a national park? What kind of park would you want it to be?
  6. Should hunting and fishing be allowed in all national parks, no national parks, or just certain national parks? Explain the reasons for your opinion.
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Show students the video segment. If possible have them watch at least parts of the Kentucky Life special Kentucky’s National Parks and/or part or all of the Ken Burn’s series The National Parks: America’s Best Ideas. Alternately, have students explore the National Park Service web site to gain an idea of the range and diversity of national parks and the National Parks: America’s Best Idea web site. The web site includes a Share Your Story section with comments and recollections by individuals.

As a class or in groups discuss the discussion questions. If working in groups, have each group share its answers. Have students write or videotape their own memories of national parks experiences or their opinion of why or why not parks should be preserved.

Extension: Create a class display or have students share their stories online at the PBS National Parks series web site.

Note: An activity that will promote lively and thoughtful discussion about the process of maintaining a balance between providing opportunities for people to enjoy the national parks today and protecting the parks for the enjoyment of future generations, is the Protect and Provide lesson plan at the National Park Service web site. You can use the entire lesson plan or the provided Situation Cards to initiate discussion of how parks must maintain a balance between their two primary missions.

Standards:

SS-5-GC-U-1—Students will understand that the government of the United States was developed from a colonial base of representative democracy by people who envisioned an independent country and new purposes for the government.

SS-5-GC-S-1—Students will demonstrate an understanding of government, using information from print and non-print sources (e.g., documents, informational passages/texts, interviews, digital and environmental):

  1. investigate the basic functions of the United States Government, as defined in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, (e.g., establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty) and explain their significance today
  2. explain how democratic governments work to promote the “common good” (e.g., making, enacting, enforcing laws that protect rights and property of all citizens).

SS-5-GC-U-2—Students will understand that the United States Government was formed to establish order, provide security and accomplish common goals.

SS-5-GC-U-5—Students will understand that as members of a democratic society, all citizens of the United States have certain rights and responsibilities, including civic participation.

SS-5-GC-S-4—Students will investigate the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens:

  1. describe and give examples of specific rights guaranteed to all U.S. citizens in the Bill of Rights (e.g., freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of press) and explain why they are important today
  2. describe some of the responsibilities U.S. citizens have in order for democratic governments to function effectively (e.g. voting, community service, paying taxes) and find examples of civic participation in current events/news (e.g., television, radio, articles, Internet)

SS-5-E-U-1—Students will understand that the basic economic problem confronting individuals, groups and businesses in the United States today is scarcity: as a result of scarcity, economic choices and decisions must be made.

SS-5-G-S-3—Students will investigate how humans modify the physical environment:

  1. explain how different perspectives of individuals and groups impact decisions about the use of land (e.g., farming, industrial, residential, recreational) in the United States.

SS-5-HP-U-3—Students will understand that the history of the United States has been impacted by significant individuals, groups and advances in technology.

SS-8-GC-U-1—Students will understand that the American political system developed from a colonial base of representative democracy by the actions of people who envisioned an independent country and new purposes for the government.

SS-8-GC-U-2—Students will understand that the United States government was formed to establish order, provide security and accomplish common goals.

SS-8-GC-U-5—Students will understand that as members of a democratic society, all citizens of the United States have certain rights and responsibilities, including civic participation.

SS-8-GC-U-5—Students will understand that as members of a democratic society, all citizens of the United States have certain rights and responsibilities, including civic participation.

SS-8-GC-S-4—Students will explain pros and cons of how citizen responsibilities (e.g., participate in community activities, vote in elections) and duties (e.g., obey the law, pay taxes, serve on a jury, register for the military) impact the U.S. government’s ability to function as a democracy.

SS-8-GC-S-5Students will analyze information from a variety of print and non-print sources (e.g., books, documents, articles, interviews, Internet) to research answers to questions and explore issues.

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Gather five puzzles for young children (the kind with 25 or fewer pieces). Separate the pieces, and put them in plastic baggies. Leave one puzzle with all its pieces, but remove 3-4 pieces from each of the others. In two of the baggies with missing pieces, add the pieces you removed from another puzzle. When you distribute the baggies, give three of the groups the frames for the puzzles, but only give the correct frame to the group with all their pieces intact.

Explain to students that historic and archaeological resources are among the resources protected at national parks. Discuss what these resources might be—fossils, pottery shards, historic items, etc. Ask students if they think it would matter if a visitor to a national park were to keep an arrowhead or other artifact they found at the park. Why would the removal of one little thing make a difference? To make this point concrete to students, explain that archaeologists and other researchers who study the artifacts left by past cultures are like people solving a puzzle. Divide the class into five groups and give each group a baggie with puzzle pieces. Let them try to solve their puzzles and then discuss the experience, explaining that the puzzle pieces represent artifacts and the frame represents the site where the artifacts are found.

Extension: Have students research the types of artifacts found at national parks in Kentucky or elsewhere.

Standards:

SS-5-HP-U-1—Students will understand that history is an account of human activities that is interpretive in nature. A variety of tools (e.g., primary and secondary sources) are needed to understand and analyze historical events.

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Have students work individually or in groups to investigate a specific aspect of American history that is interpreted through national parks. Ask each individual or team to prepare a report (written, oral, Power Point, etc.) that includes: the names and locations of the parks and the role they play in preserving and interpreting an aspect of American history.

To find information, tell students to go to visit the Find a Park section of the National Park Service web site. Click on “by topic.” Select American Presidents, Civil War, Human Rights, Revolutionary War, or Westward Expansion. Visit the web sites of the parks listed and record information. You might want to model this process for them.

Standards:

SS-5-HP-U-1—Students will understand that history is an account of human activities that is interpretive in nature. A variety of tools (e.g., primary and secondary sources) are needed to understand and analyze historical events.

SS-5-HP-U-3—Students will understand that the history of the United States has been impacted by significant individuals, groups and advances in technology.

SS-8-GC-S-5—Students will analyze information from a variety of print and non-print sources (e.g., books, documents, articles, interviews, Internet) to research answers to questions and explore issues.

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Have students work individually or in groups to investigate a specific landform that is protected at a national park in Kentucky or elsewhere. Ask each individual or team to prepare a report (written, oral, Power Point, etc.) that includes the name and location of the park and information about the landform and how it was formed.

To find information, tell students to go to the Find a Park section of the National Park Service. Click on “by topic.” Select Caves, Mountains, Volcanoes, Geysers and Hotsprings, or Glaciers. Select one of the national parks listed. Click on Nature and Science.

Standards:

SC-6-EU-S-3—Students will investigate constructive and destructive forces at work on the Earth’s surface and the landforms that result from them.

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Explain to students that national parks play an important role in the protection of endangered species. Have students work individually or in groups to investigate a specific endangered species that is protected at one of the national parks. Ask each individual or team to prepare a report (written, oral, Power Point, etc.) that includes the name and location of the park, information about the endangered species and why it has endangered species status, and steps that the park is taking to protect the endangered species.

To find information, tell students to go to the Find a Park section of the National Park Service website. Click on by topic. Choose Endangered Species. Select one of the national parks listed. In the search box, type “endangered.” You might want to model this process for them.

Standards:

SC-5-BC-U-3—Students will understand that successful organisms must be able to maintain the basic functions of life in response to normal environmental fluctuations (e.g. day/night, seasonal temperature changes, precipitation). However, an organism that has an advantage in a specific environment may not be able to survive if the environment changes too drastically.

 

Additional Resources

Back to Why Preserve National Parks?