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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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Beach Mysteries

Students learn about bacteria as an indicator of beach water quality for swimming. In groups they solve
hypothetical problems associated with beaches. Then students write persuasive essays on the issue.

Activities:

  • Discuss the effect of harmful bacteria on swimming conditions at beaches.
  • Diagram three reasons for beach contamination.
  • Explain solutions for beach health problems.
  • Write a persuasive essay about beach health

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How Can Disappearances Within the Triangle Be Explained?

Investigating multiple hypotheses, students discuss the values of using several data types and sources to solve a science problem, demonstrate how bathymetric charts are used and constructed, demonstrate how weather information is mapped and interpreted, and explain how scientists use multiple working hypotheses to solve complex problems.

Your class should first study the locations of missing craft and personnel in the activity titled, “What is the Great Lakes Triangle?” Like scientists, you should examine the data for trends and indicators; in this case you examine concentrations of the disappearances and speculate on their causes. The present investigation is actually three activities that are to be performed by different classroom groups simultaneously through cooperative learning. If time permits, all three activities could be done by the entire class.

The activities treat the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald as example of a Great Lakes Triangle tragedy. When all three topics have been considered, there will be a discussion to consider whether the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was an accident resulting from natural causes or whether other supernatural or extraterrestrial forces might be at work (as proposed in Berlitz’ The Bermuda Triangle).

Objectives:

  • Discuss the values of using several data types and sources to solve a science problem.
  • Demonstrate how bathymetric charts are used and constructed.
  • Demonstrate how weather information is mapped and interpreted.
  • Give an example of how scientists use multiple working hypotheses to solve complex problems.

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Ojibway—Early Immigrants to the Great Lakes Region

This activity introduces students to one tribe of early Great Lakes settlers, the Ojibway (Chippewa), who began to migrate from what would later become New Brunswick and Maine in 900 A.D.

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Great Lakes Geology and the Necessity of Locks

These lesson plans are intended to integrate an understanding of the geologic processes that resulted in the formation of the Great Lakeswith lock technology that was developed to optimize the Great Lakes as a transportation waterway. The primary focus of the unit is to address technology as defined by the DOE as, ” The innovation, change, or modification of the natural environment to satisfy perceived human needs and wants.”

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What Happened Aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald?

In completing this activity you should be able to:
  • Give examples of the amount of information that can be conveyed in memorable form in a song.
  • Describe how music can convey emotions.
  • Use the ideas from a song in your personal writing.

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