Title: The Dirt at Your Feet May Limit Your Growth332

Key Words: soils analysis; soil types; soils maps; U. S. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

National Standard: 15
How physical systems affect human systems

State Standard: 14
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the connections between Earth's physical and human systems; the consequences of the interaction between human and physical systems; and changes in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.

Teaching Level: H

Lesson Introduction : Why do some communities seem to expand with ease, while others take time to develop? The answer may lie in factors other than location, distance to markets and raw materials, or natural beauty. The reason may be at our feet. The following lesson plan allows students to consider the impact of soil types on the growth of a community.

Objectives/Purpose: To analyze soils maps; to evaluate the possible impact of soil types on construction; to determine how soils within a community may enhance or inhibit development.

Materials: Soils maps and list of soil types from the U. S. Natural Resources Conservation Office. [These maps and lists are free from the federal offices, which are located in each county. Some maps, such as that of Merrimack County, are currently being updated. In that case, individual sheets of particular areas within the county are available at this time].

Procedure: l. Ask students why some communities seem to grow and expand almost without effort, while others do not. Brainstorm a lists of possible answers, writing their answers on the overhead.

2. Ask students how dirt might impact on the growth of a city or town. Discuss possibilities.

3. Divide the class into groups of four. One student will be the group leaders, responsible for keeping the group on task. One student will serve as recorder. One student will be the map analyst, and one student will interpret the list of soil types.

4. Distribute county soils maps and lists of soil types. Explain the maps and lists.

5. Each group will be responsible for writing up a prospectus for a construction company which is looking for a housing development site.
Which areas of the community might best support development, based on an analysis of soils?

6. Allow time for this exercise, then discuss their prospectuses as a whole class.

Evaluation/Assessment: Student work in groups to analyze soils maps and soil types; group prospectuses.

Extension/Enrichment: A guest speaker from a construction company might be asked to discuss some of the problems faced in setting up a building on a given site. This plan may become part of an entire unit on building.
Guest speakers from the N. H. Wetlands Board and other state agencies, as well as the county conservation district office and the local planning board, might also be invited in.

Students might be asked to place their development with zoning ordinances and septic system considerations in mind. As part of this unit, they should learn about the reasons for the local and state regulations and be prepared to analyze whether they think this sort of regulation is necessary and appropriate.

Additional Standards: National standard 1 (maps and other geographic tools and technologies); standard 3 (spatial organization); standard 4 (physical and human characteristics of places); standard 6 (perceptions of places and regions); standard 9 (migrations/populations); standard 12 (settlement); standard 18 (interpret the present and plan for the future); state standard 10 (maps, technologies, and mental maps); standard 11 (physical/human geographic features and regions); standard 13 (human systems; cooperation and conflict); standard 15 (interpret the past and the present and plan for the future).

Reflection: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.

Thank you,

The authors.


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