Lesson Plan for Pennsylvania State Parks: Maps of Pennsylvania


Strands:

Geographic Literacy, Physical Characteristics of Places and Regions, Human Characteristics of Places and Regions, Inquiry and Design, Earth Sciences, Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources, Humans and the Environment

Standard Statements:

7.1A, 7.2B, 7.3A, C, D; 3.1B, C, D, 3.2 A, B, 3.5A, B, 4.2A, B, 4.8A, B, C

Content Objectives:

For this activity, participants will:

  1. Locate the park where they are visiting on a map
  2. Compare land cover and land use on a map to the land use today
  3. Make predictions about land cover and land use based on topography, resources, history and demographic trends.

Assessment Strategies:

Large and small group discussion

Written answers to questions

Suggested Level:

Grade 4-Adult

Standards Category:

- Geography

- Science and Technology

- Environment and Ecology

Materials:

- Digital Shaded-Relief Map of Pennsylvania

- Land Cover Map of Pennsylvania

Instructional Strategies:

- Individual research

- Cooperative groups

- Large group discussion

Map Background Information

Both the Digital Shaded-Relief Map of Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Land Cover map reflect the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Pennsylvania Geological Survey’s (PaGS) use of new technologies to refine and update the ancient art of mapmaking. The maps were produced using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software.  GIS draws upon large amounts of data collected in many ways. For instance, these maps were generated by data collected from satellites. The satellites collect information using a variety of means (radar, light, etc.).  To collect this data, the satellite’s sensors give each piece of the picture or picture element (a pixel) a value for brightness or temperature, etc. that is recorded as a number.  To convert this digital information to an image, a color can be assigned to all objects of a class or category such as forest types or crops.  Information is collected and integrated over time.  (For instance, satellites can tell the difference between deciduous and evergreen by collecting information in both summer and winter.) The Land Cover Map resulted from satellite photos taken in the summers of 1986-1993 and reflects the vegetation cover and population centers across the state at that time. The Digital Shaded-Relief Map is the product of a USGS computer program.  Elevation data points recorded every 30 meters across the state, along with information about slope, county boundaries and indicator colors, were combined to produce this highly detailed map.

Lesson Questions

1. Study the Pennsylvania Land Cover Map and find the approximate location of this park.  What does the map say about the use of the land in the region immediately surrounding the park?  Is it the same as the land cover in the park itself?  Suggest a reason why there may be a difference. 

2. The Land Cover Map was produced from satellite photos taken of the state in the summers of 1986 through 1993. Think about the land use that you traveled through to reach this location, or the land use in the place where you live.  How would you describe the land cover?  Try to use the terms found at the top of the Land Cover Map. 

3. Do the land covers that you described above match what is shown on the map?  If the land cover is different, suggest some reasons why that may be. 

4. The Digital Shaded-Relief Map was produced by measuring the elevation of the state every 30 meters, then feeding the numbers into a USGS computer.   Compare this map to the Land Cover Map.  Do you notice any similarities?  Do you notice differences?

5. These two maps show very different kinds of information.  How do you explain their striking similarities?

6. Notice the pattern when you compare the elevation of regions of the state to predominant land cover. In general, where is most of the agriculture?  Temperate forests?  Evergreen forests?  What factors other than topography might explain the location of these types of land uses?

7. Choose three urban areas.  Why did towns grow up in these places?  Are those factors still important?  If not, what keeps these cities and towns alive now?  

8. Think back 200 years.  What do you think the land cover in this area was then?  Is it different now?  In what ways?

9. Think ahead 50 years.  What do you think the land use in this area will be then?  What makes you think so?  Would you like to live here then?  Explain why or why not.

Suggestions for additional activities:

1. Research the history of the area and relate it to the topography and natural resources.

2. Bring in a re-enactor to talk about the history of the area and how people lived there.

3. Have visitors suggest routes that settlers may have used to reach the region of the park before modern roads existed.

4. Ask visitors to play the part of one of the first European settlers in the area of the park.  Have them write a letter to their family members who stayed behind. Include a description of their surroundings in terms of elevation and land cover.

Visitor / Student Worksheet on the Pennsylvania maps

  1. Study the Pennsylvania Land Cover Map and find the approximate location of this park.  What does the map say about the use of the land in the region immediately surrounding the park?  Is it the same as the land cover in the park itself?  Suggest a reason why there may be a difference. 

  2. The Land Cover Map was produced from satellite photos taken of the state in the summers of 1986 through 1993. Think about the land use that you traveled through to reach this location, or the land use in the place where you live.  How would you describe the land cover?  Try to use the terms found at the top of the Land Cover Map.

  3. Do the land covers that you described above match what is shown on the map?  If the land cover is different, suggest some reasons why that may be.

  4. The Digital Shaded-Relief Map was produced by measuring the elevation of the state every 30 meters, then feeding the numbers into a USGS computer.   Compare this map to the Land Cover Map.  Do you notice any similarities?  Differences? 

  5. These two maps show very different kinds of information.  How do you explain their striking similarities?

  6. Notice the pattern when you compare the elevation of regions of the state to predominant land cover.  In general, where is most of the agriculture?  Temperate forests?  Evergreen forests?  What factors other than topography might explain the location of these types of land uses?

  7. Choose three urban areas.  Why did towns grow up in these places?  Are those factors still important?  If not, what keeps these cities and towns alive now?

  8. Think back 200 years.  What do you think the land cover in this area was then?  Is it different now?  In what ways?

  9. Think ahead 50 years.  What do you think the land use in this area will be then?  What makes you think so?  Would you like to live here then?  Explain why or why not.