Students watch a video about the movement of Iowans from urban areas to the non-developed, rural land in the Loess Hills. Often called “urban sprawl,” this expansion of housing and business impacts the Loess Hills socially, economically, and environmentally. After watching the video, students weigh the pros and cons of urban expansion into the Loess Hills and debate how, or even whether, it should continue.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Iowa | Unit 8: Modern Iowa." In this unit, students will explore the challenges and opportunities facing Iowa in the 21st century.
G.SS.4.18: Describe how environmental and cultural characteristics influence population distribution in specific places or regions.
An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
Class set of Loess Hills—Urban Expansion handout
- Define the term “urban sprawl” for students. “Urban sprawl ” describes the relocation of people from city centers to undeveloped (i.e., not built on) land near the city, as well as the resulting construction of housing and businesses (like shopping centers) to accommodate them.
- Explain that some people who live in a city setting may want to move to the country. Ask students to think of reasons why they might prefer the country to the city. Explain that “urban sprawl” has started in Iowa’s Loess Hills, and that it has both positive and negative impacts on the land.
- Tell students they will be watching a video on this topic, and distribute the Loess Hills—Urban Expansion handout. Instruct students to take notes on the economic and environmental pros and cons of “urban sprawl.”
- Play the video, Working Landscapes – Urban Sprawl. [2:39]
- Divide the class into two groups, one representing the pro side of “urban sprawl” and the other representing the con side. Have students debate these pros and cons.
- Pros – economic development, responsible development with planning (cluster homes), preserves open spaces with good planning, modern conveniences, meets a demand
- Cons – increases pollution, inner cities decline, reduces open spaces, irresponsible development, reduces natural resources, impact on wildlife, and landscapes damaged or destroyed, loss of views as other/new homes block initial views