What Is That Bubblin’ In My Back Yard?
George Michael Fox
Anderson Community School Corp.
Topic- Spatial relationships between student homes, schools,
and community environmental hazard sites.
Classroom sessions / estimated time- 80 minutes
Grade Level – 8th through 10th
Purpose- To introduce GIS resources to students.
How to use maps and other geography representations to acquire information
How to analyze the spatial organizations of people, places and environments
That people create regions to interpret earth’s complexity
The patterns and networks of economic interdependence
The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement
How human actions modify the physical environment
Students will be able to navigate and use the Internet in general and Geographic
Information System (GIS) sites in specific.
Students will be able to create a map plotting local sites the Environmental
Protection Agency has on its EPA Regulated Sites list.
Students will be able to identify a list of schools that are near potentially
Students will be able to discuss the need for citizens to, at a minimum,
be aware of potential pollution hazards in their community. This
will be demonstrated by referring to local facilities during the discussion.
Note: Make sure students understand that being listed on this list does
not make a particular site an “evil” facility. These are just locations
that are registered and monitored by the EPA. In reality, these firms
may be much better environmental “good guys” than an unknown,
Step 1 (5 min) Pass out a line map of your local community.
If you have none available, one may be created by visiting www.mapquest.com.
Have students plot the location of their house and mark with a red dot.
Step 2 (20-30 min) Using a map of the schools in your local
school system. Have students plot all schools on their line map used
in Step 1. Plot elementary, middle, and high schools. This
map should be available through your school system or telephone book.
Step 3 (45-60 min) Using the EPA website, plot all EPA regulated
facilities located in your community. Label sites on your map created
in Step 1 in a color that pleases you. Accompanying most facility
listings, you can click on a button to draw a map of that site in a small,
Note: Advanced students located in the Indianapolis MSA will be able
to plot all of these locations using the SAVI web site and Arc Explorer
Locating local EPA-Regulated list…
Note: You can click on the name of each facility to view technical data
as to what is being regulated.
Enter on your Web browser www.epa.gov
Select Your Community on the sidebar
Select Search Your Community
Enter Zip Code or Codes of your school district.
Discussion Questions to Analyze Your Newly Created Map-
Which section of your community has the most EPA Regulated
sites? Which has the least?
Extending the learning-
Whose home is the closest to a potentially dangerous site?
Which school appears to have “the record” for being in the most potentially
Have students print a digital aerial picture of their home from the Terra
Server web site.The site may be found at http//terraserver.homeadvisor.msn.com.
Have students mark their home and any EPA-Regulated sites in the photo.
Certain students may need to zoom out a click or two to get an EPA site
in their photo.
Staple photo to the EPA/School map created earlier in this lesson plan
and display in room or hallway.
Check student maps and aerial photo sheet for accuracy and neatness.
Display completed work in room or hallway.