Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. What can you do to celebrate? Well, since it’s also National Park week, why not visit a National Park. I know you can’t do it “for real for real”, as my kids would say, but why not go on a virtual visit?
How to Start: Do you know how many national parks there are in the US? I had to look it up. According to the National Park Service, there are currently 419 national park sites in the US and its territories that span more than 84 million acres. That’s a lot to choose from! How do you get started? Well, you can sit down with your family and discuss places you would like to go. Don’t worry about which National Park you want to visit just yet. Focus on types of things you would like to see, regions of the country you would like to go, and how you would like to visit the park (by car, hiking, camping out, etc).
What to do next: Now that you have brainstormed the types of places you would like to go, find a National Park that matches. But where are all the national parks? How do we figure out which one is right? The first question is easy, I’ve provided a link in “STEAM Resources” below (the first link). The second question is up to you and your family to answer. Look at your brainstormed list from above and research which National Park(s) match. Since this is virtual, you can go to as many as you want!
Expand it: How can you bring in other content areas?
Before you go on your virtual visit, why not research it? Below are some initial guiding questions to help you get started.
- Science: What area of science would be most prominent in your virtual visit? Even if you select a historical site, there is still science all around. What do you think it is?
- Technology: What technology is used for your virtual visit? What do you have to know in order to design a virtual visit?
- Engineering: What tools and equipment are used for a virtual visit? Are there any new tools or equipment you can imagine/design for virtual visits?
- Arts: How would you portray your virtual visit through art? Would you draw a picture? Make a sculpture? Compose music? Do you expect to see art in your virtual visit? What would you say if I told you there is art in all the National Parks? Could you find it?
- Math: How far away is your National Park from your home? How long would it take to get there? How large is your park? Can you compare its size to your home town?
- National Park Service Parks at Home: https://www.nationalparks.org/parks-at-home
- National Parks Service Find Your Park: https://findyourpark.com/find-your-park-quiz
- National Park Service Multimedia Links, providing multiple ways to see the parks: https://www.nps.gov/media/multimedia-search.htm
- National Parks Service Jr. Ranger: https://www.nationalparks.org/our-work/programs/junior-ranger