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        Minnesota | Activity 1.4: Itasca State Park

        Students learn about the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota. They watch a video about Itasca State Park and discuss why the park is beneficial. 

        Lesson Summary

        Students learn about the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota. They watch a video about Itasca State Park and discuss why the park is beneficial. 

        This lesson is part of "Great States: Minnesota | Unit 1: Minnesota’s Three Geographical Regionswhere students will look at what makes Minnesota special. Students will study Minnesota’s unique geographical features and how they have changed over time.

        Time Allotment

        15 minutes

        Learning Objectives

        Standards: 

        4.3.3.6.1: Explain how geographic factors affect population distribution and the growth of cities in the United States and Canada.

        6.3.3.6.1: Locate, identify and describe major physical features in Minnesota; explain how physical features and the location of resources affect settlement patterns and the growth of cities in different parts of Minnesota. For example: Physical features—ecosystems, topographic features, continental divides, river valleys, cities, communities and reservations of Minnesota’s indigenous people.

        Supplies

        Directions

        1. Ask students to name the longest river in the United States [the Mississippi River]. Then ask where the river begins [Minnesota].
        2. Show the Minnesota Population Density map. Demonstrate how to interpret the map using the key. Ask students if they can locate the Minneapolis and St. Paul area [both located in the red patch on the map].
        3. Then, point out the location of Itasca State Park [mostly in Hubbard County, west of the cluster of large lakes]. Refer to a map or atlas if needed. Indicate that this park contains the headwaters of the Mississippi. Explain that headwaters are a tributary stream of a river close to or forming part of its source. If needed, define tributary [a river or stream flowing into a larger river or lake] and source [the place where a river begins].
        4. Explain that Itasca State Park is located in an area of low population density. Ask why it is important to maintain low density near the park [to protect the Mississippi River from pollution caused by human activity; rivers flow downstream, thus polluted headwaters would damage the whole river system].
        5. Play the video, Minnesota Mississippi Headwaters: Itasca State Park, MN [2:45].
        6. Then, to conclude the lesson, ask students why it is beneficial to have a state park at the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Answers may include:
          • It protects 32,000 acres of land from human settlement
          • It allows half a million people from all over the state, country, and world to visit a beautiful natural site

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