Grades 7 - 9
John Muir in Yosemite
John Muir's vision led to the establishment of the
National Park System.
In at least two class sessions, students will explore different ways to
value the environment and will participate in a simulation of a historical
debate to protect
as a National Park.
Make copies of the
overhead transparency of page 25,
Ways to Value the Environment
Assess the students' prior understanding: What are some ways to value the
environment and what issues were addressed in creating
Use the Ways to Value the Environment overhead transparency to
discuss different perspectives.
Divide up the roles on the Debate Cards among groups of students to research
the various roles for the debate and read the Background Information.
Give the teams at least one 40- to 50-minute session to
research their position in the debate and become familiar with their
characters' positions. Students should synthesize their information
with their teammates in preparation for the debate.
Set up chairs in a circle with each group seated together with name cards
Invite the Facilitator to read the Background Information sheet again to
the class prior to beginning the debate. Ask the Timer to read his or her
The Facilitator may introduce each group to Congress. Each group is allowed
four minutes to convince Congress to vote in support of their position.
After Congress has heard all the represented sides on the issue, the
Facilitator will ask them to vote and announce their decision.
The battle for the protection of Yosemite was largely over economics.
One of the points of the debate was that the land needed to be proven
"useless" economically before Congress would declare it a national park.
Similar issues concerning economics and the environment face today's
citizens. Further discussion might include current topics such as:
Oil exploration in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Varying restrictions on land use by different agencies, such as
Bureau of Land Management
National Park Service
California Department of Forestry
the U.S. Forest Service
Habitat loss and endangered species,
such as cutting the spotted owl's old growth forests in the Pacific
Northwest and the development of land for housing in California.
this complete unit
in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format
(file size = 350,929
entire Study Guide
is also available.
John Muir Day Study Guide Home
| Alphabetical Index
| What's New
| Message Board