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National Parks Jigsaw

Based on a webquest project by Mrs. Phillip - Starting Point page by Rebecca Teed (SERC)
This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.


Each group of students is assigned to a different national park. This jigsaw exercise has students in each group study different aspects of their park. The original roles were historian, meteorologist, geologist, and biologist, which should work well for an environmental science class. An introductory geology class might have groups of different kinds of geologists instead (depending on the park(s) chosen). These experts work together to generate a brochure or a website describing the park, with sections on each aspect.

Learning Goals

During this project, students will:

Context for Use

A view in Olympic National Park

This exercise can be scaled from introductory level to upper-level, and used in a variety of classes depending on the roles and the parks selected. I would give the students at least one class period and a week of outside time for research in their specialty, then another week to study their park and produce their web page or pamphlet with their base group.

Description and Teaching Materials

First, your decision about what the students need to learn defines which parks and which roles to assign.

A view in Rocky Mountain National Park

Once the students are broken into groups of four and the roles are assigned, students go to their specialist groups and become experts together.

When students return to their base groups, they will read each other's reports and focus on their particular park, applying their expertise specifically to its features and through discussion realizing how much their fields overlap.

Teaching Notes and Tips

There is a page on jigsaw where the technique is explained more clearly in the Cooperative Learning Module


Potential graded assignments for the specialist/expert groups could include a group report that the experts can then take back to their base group or individual projects or a combination. For example, the geomorphologists can do a group report made up of individually-written chapters on:

The base group will produce a web site or a pamphlet describing their park from a scientific (or historic) perspective for lay people divided into sections matching the specialties of the experts.

References and Resources

Based on The National Parks WebQuest (more info)

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