Lesson Plan


The Blackland Scenic Trail along the Natchez Trace Parkway.

NPS Photo

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Grade Level:
Eighth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Geography, Social Studies
One class period
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Secondary: 4, 4b, 4c
Topography map, GPS, coordinates, geography, social studies


Students will use GPS coordinates to plot a National Scenic Trail on a topography map. This lesson assumes that students already know how to plot GPS coordinates. However, if they have never plotted GPS, if they can plot points on a graph, they can plot GPS coordinates with a short explanation. GPS units are available in a traveling kit.


Enduring Understanding: Geographers use tools like maps, globes, GPS, and GIS, to acquire and analyse information.

Essential Question: How does a GPS help us to map locations?

The students will:

1.) Be able to plot GPS points

2.) Show the location of a National Scenic Trail.


The National Park Service uses up-to-date technology to manage their lands. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a National Park Service unit, authorized to contain National Scenic Trails.

(See Teacher Background for information on federal trails and how GPS works in Materials)


1.) Teacher Background Information Sheet

2.) How GPS Works

3.) Teacher's List of Coordinates and Landmarks

4.) Set of Coordinates to Map for Students

5.) "No Trail" Map of Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail

6.) "With Trail" Map of Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail



Accuracy and completeness of the mapping activity.

Park Connections

Uses the Natchez Trace to show locations via GPS.


1.) In other mapping activities, have the students map GPS coordinates. Have the students research the origins and function of the GPS system.

2.) Have the students visit a section of the Natchez Trace Scenic Trail. If appropriate equipment is available, have the students record GPS coordinates and then map the trail on a "blank" topography map.

Additional Resources

The students will either plot all of the given points or they may plot only the bolded points. Either set will give a more or less accurate representation of the National Scenic trail that runs along the Natchez Trace Parkway in the Tupelo, MS area. Orient the students as to the features on and the location represented by the map.


Topography map, GPS, coordinates