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        Montana | Activity 9.6: The Pros and Cons of Montana’s Industries

        Students research information about prominent industries in Montana and consider the pros and cons of each. 

        Lesson Summary

        Students research information about prominent industries in Montana and consider the pros and cons of each.

        This lesson is part of "Great States: Unit 9: Industry – Mining, Timber, and Agriculture," in which students will consider the major resources and enterprises that form the basis of Montana’s economy.

        Time Allotment

        45 minutes

        Learning Objectives


        1.1: Identify and practice the steps of an inquiry process (i.e., identify question or problem, locate and evaluate potential resources, gather and synthesize information, create a new product, and evaluate product and process). 

        1.2: Evaluate information quality (e.g., accuracy, relevance, fact or fiction). 

        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).


        • Research books, textbooks, computers, or a school library (if possible)
        • Class set of the Pros and Cons of Industry graphic organizer


        1. This activity is conducted in the “jigsaw” cooperative learning style. Pass out the Pros and Cons of Industry graphic organizer. Divide students into four groups by having them count off by four. Have students with the same number form a research group. Assign each group one of the industries from the organizer to research: logging, agriculture, mining, or oil. Within each group, half should focus on the pros and the other half should focus on the cons of their assigned industry (if there are enough students to do so).
        2. The research will depend on the availability of books, computers, textbooks, etc., in your classroom. If possible, expand this activity by planning a trip to the school library. Give student groups time to research their industry. Encourage them to consider the regulations that help keep their industry safe and economically and environmentally viable. The intention is for students do this as an introductory exercise. Therefore students should only be given 15–20 minutes to research their category.
        3. Have each group report their conclusions to the class, while the other groups take notes. After every group reports their findings, each student should have a completed graphic organizer.
        4. To conclude the lesson, ask students what questions they still have about each industry. Write their questions on the board.

        Extend the lesson (take-home assignment):

        Have students research answers to the questions on the board. In class the next day, students share what they found.

        Answer Key


        Sustainable jobs, sustainable industry because always a need for wood products and paper, valuable boost to local economies, provides materials for housing and other construction, clears land for other uses, much of Montana is forested

        Fewer jobs due to improved harvest and production techniques, takes decades to regrow, can be over-harvested, clear-cutting can create environmental issues, jobs can be dangerous, threat of pests and natural disasters


        Sustainable employment, always need for food, valuable boost to Montana economy, provides food for people and livestock, government sometimes provides subsidies

        Fewer and fewer jobs due to industrialization and large corporations, environmental issues due to over farming and release of emissions, pesticides, and other chemicals; takes up thousands of acres; dependent on the weather and market demands; threat of pests and disease


        Jobs, provides valuable materials for many industries, boost to local economies

        Dangerous jobs, serious environmental impact if not done correctly, fewer and fewer jobs due to industrialization and limited resources, dependent on market demand


        Jobs, boost to local economy, helps the United States be less dependent on foreign oil, provides valuable raw material for many industries

        Product contributes to environmental concerns such as climate change, dependent on market demands, finite resources, dangerous jobs

        For more on the industries of Montana, review the other activities of Unit 9.


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