A "Role-play" Activity for Teaching about Uranium Mining on the Navajo Nation
Montana State UniversityAuthor Profile
This activity uses an Earth system approach and role playing to teach students about uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. Students first use a website to find information for their assigned roles, and then they present information to the class.
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This exercise can be used in an undergraduate environmental geology course or an introductory physical geology course for non-majors.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
There are no required skills or conceptual prerequisites for this activity.
How the activity is situated in the course
This activity can be used parallel to a unit on natural resources, environmental issues, or economic geology. However, this activity can also be used as a stand alone project.
Content/concepts goals for this activity
This activity was designed for students to learn about the impacts of resource development on Native American lands. This is achieved by exploring the cultural heritage(s) of the involved tribe(s), the geology, physiography, climate, biota and hydrology of the land being studied, information about the resource being developed, exploration and development history of the resource, and environmental impacts, human health impacts and political issues from a resource development standpoint.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
As a result of this activity, students develop the skills to address environmental issues and come to realize that they can play a role in such issues.
Other skills goals for this activity
Other skills the students may gain from this activity are making oral presentations to their class and working in groups.
Description of the activity/assignment
This activity uses an assortment of digital resources relevant to exploring resource development on Native American lands. The activity is based on a website that uses an Earth System approach to help students understand how Native American lands have been impacted by resource development. In the role-playing exercise, students are assigned one of several roles, including consulting geologists, the mining industry, tribal elders and public health officials. Each student uses the web-based learning materials to research the issue from the perspective of their role. This type of exercise could also be used as a debate by dividing a class into groups that play the roles of the Navajo people and the Federal Government.
Determining whether students have met the goals
Students can be evaluated based on guided activity worksheets (linked below), as well as from their participation in group oral presentations.More information about assessment tools and techniques.
Teaching materials and tips
- Role play worksheet (Microsoft Word 37kB Mar28 06)
- Role-play Activity (link to a website that contains the activity)
- Impacts of Resource Development on Native American Lands This website contains background information related to this activity.
- More examples of role-playing exercises from the Starting Point collection