Students watch a video clip about the Missouri River in Montana and learn that a river has natural uses—like building up and maintaining wetland ecosystems and aquifers. They learn that people and industries have other needs that impact the river, including the need to control flooding and create reliable waterways for shipping and tourism. Students then consider the question: "Which needs are more important?"
This lesson is part of "Great States: Unit 10: Modern Montana." This concluding unit will ask students to determine how Montana compares to other states, and how it has become the state it is today.
3.3: Describe and illustrate ways in which people interact with their physical environment (e.g., land use, location of communities, methods of construction, design of shelters).
- Video: Recreation Industry - The Missouri Compromised
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
- Blackboard or chalkboard
Explain to students that water is used in many different ways for many different purposes by different groups, including industry, farming, and recreation. These groups sometimes argue over the best way to utilize a water source. Scientists now understand there is much to be learned from rivers, especially when it comes to biodiversity and the health of watersheds, and that trying to control rivers often results in unintended consequences.
Tell students they will be watching a video that explores the use of the Missouri River.
Play the video, Recreation Industry - The Missouri Compromised. [16:22–20:30]
Ask students to think about whether or not rivers should be tamed, and to choose one side of the argument or the other. Divide the class into small group circles with opinions evenly distributed within each group.
With one student speaking at a time for one minute, and the others listening, each member of the group answers the questions provided below. It would be helpful to write the questions on the board. Use a small bell or another method to signal when a minute is up. The size of the class and available time will determine how many prompts to use.
When you think of “rivers,” what kinds of scenes and activities come to mind?
Many birds, fish, and plants can’t survive if a river is polluted or closed off with dams. But dams on the Missouri River are used to make safe places for people to live and used for agricultural purposes. Can you think of any compromises?
Circulate around the classroom to listen in and facilitate groups as needed. It is important that one student speaks at a time and everyone participates.
Responses may include fish and birds, swimming, ships and boats, fishing, pollution, etc.
Answers will vary