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Freedom Seekers: The Underground Railroad, Great Lakes, and Science Literacy Activities

Great Lakes connections to Underground Railroad – Black History Month
Free Curriculum for Middle and High School Educators

Learn about Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad
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How Big is a Crowd?

The Great Lakes and the surrounding land provide many resources for the people who live in the area. Water for drinking and industry, fish for food, minerals, and other resources are abundant. However, people change the landscape. They create wastes and add chemicals to the environment when they use resources, and these can be harmful. When many people are concentrated in one area, they may compete for resources. In addition, the wastes these people generate tend to concentrate in the area immediately around them and may cause pollution problems.

In this teacher-facilitated activity, learners will construct the five Great Lakes from string and use wrapped candy or peanuts in shells to investigate the impacts of population centers on Great Lakes fish production and water quality. Students learn to compare the relative sizes of the five Great Lakes and their human populations, as well as describe some of the problems that arise when many people
depend on a limited resource.

Objectives

When students have completed this activity, they will be able to:

  • Compare the relative sizes of the five Great Lakes and their human populations.
  • Describe some of the problems that arise when many people depend on a limited resource.

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Hydropoly: A Decision Making Game

Students play a board game to hone their decision-making skills. Through the various choices posed in the game, they are asked to consider both economic and environmental well being in making decisions.

Objectives:
  • Discuss land-use practices that affect Great Lakes wetlands
  • Make decisions and recognize personal priorities with regard to wetlands
  • Describe some of the economic factors that often drive land use

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What is the Great Lakes Triangle?

Analyzing multiple sets of data, students learn to demonstrate an ability to perceive patterns in a set of data, explain how scientific habits of mind should include the seeking of logical explanations for “mysterious” happenings.

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Where Should I Relocate in the Great Lakes Region?

This activity will allow students to describe the Great Lakes region using a map and identify some of the resources the region has to offer. Also, by using maps and graphs students can demonstrate how they can provide information for decision making. Students will describe a decision making process by which people can evaluate a geographic area as a possible home site.

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How Long Does it take Water to Flow Through the Great Lakes Basin?

Water that is in a lake does not stay in that lake. Where does the water go? The length of time that it takes for the amount of water in a lake to be completely replaced (enter the lake) is called retention time. Each of the Great Lakes has a different retention time. Construct an appropriate model of the water flow of the Great Lakes learn about retention time and replacement time, and how how Lake Superior affects the dynamics of water flow, retention time and flushing rates for the Great Lakes system.

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