Adapted from Ecosystem Matters: An Activity and Resource Guide for Environmental Educators, USDA Forest Service
Land Use Simulation Game
1. Analyze possible uses for land, given information about the community.
2. Consider different environmental impacts on land use.
Students will work in groups and work to solve the problem of land use by:
- analyzing data
- research topics
- group presentations
Time: Optional procedures may require additional class time
Subject: Biology, ecology, social studies, economics
Skills: Discussion, group participation, analyzing, public speaking
Group size: 6-10 students per group
Copies of Task A, B, C, and criteria sheets (download here)
Crayons or markers
Research time in the library
1. Inferring, recording and classifying possible uses of land.
Distribute Task A, Centerplace City land use problem. The issue concerns possible uses of one square mile (640 acres) of county farmland, four miles northeast of the city. It is now available for the city's use.
Questions and discussion
I. "What are some possible uses for the undeveloped land?" As people respond, write all comments on board, just as they say them. Do not paraphrase unless the comment is too wordy; if so ask, "How shall I write that on the chart?" If they give major categories right away, such as recreation or industry, ask for examples. Number the items as you go along to simplify identification later. Stop when you get 15 to 20 items.
II. "Which of these uses are similar?" Designate similar uses by letters, i.e., A = one type, B = the next, etc. Stop when most items are designated with a letter, or group seems to run out of thoughts.
III. “What label could we give to all the items in A, B, etc.?” Examples might be recreation, industry, utilities, housing, or commercial.
2. Develop and give presentation.
A. Divide the class or group into the number of categories decided on in 1-III. Limit each group to 6-10 students. Assign each group to one of the use categories. Each group is to represent the special user group assigned.
B. Distribute Task B and inform the students they have 10 minutes to list and analyze possible uses for the vacant land in the assigned category. They may consider those listed on the board in their category plus any other possible uses they can think of for the category. As an option, allow more time for this part of the activity such as time for research or drawings to make the presentations more realistic. At the end of 10 minutes, go on to the next step.
3. Discussion: Tell the group, "Now go on to Task C. You have 20 minutes to plan a strategy and develop a three minute presentation to be made to the County Board of Commissioners." As an option, allow extra time for more in-depth presentations. Distribute Task C cards.
A. Ten minutes into Task C, have each group select one of its members to meet together as the County Board of Commissioners. Take the board into another room and tell them they will be responsible for hearing the presentations and deciding upon the best one. Their job in the next 10 minutes is to:
a. Develop the criteria to use in evaluating the proposals.
b. Develop a matrix to record their evaluations while the presentations are being given.
c. Elect a chairperson to preside during group presentations.
d. Distribute the criteria guide.
B. Twelve minutes after groups start planning Task C, remind them they have eight minutes left to have their verbal and visual presentations ready. Let groups have five more minutes to finish if needed.
C. Have the Board of County Commissioners enter the room and sit up front. Appoint a timekeeper to limit all presentations to three minutes. The board may question the presenters after the initial three minutes.
D. After completion of the presentations, the board may retire to choose best proposal.
E. County Board announces their decision and gives reasons for this decision.
F. County Board reads their criteria aloud.
4. Questions and discussion: “What additional data would you have liked to have had for your groups?” List these on the board. Examples may include topography, vegetation, economy, transportation.
1. Class participation
2. Group work (drawings, handouts, research)