A "Jigsaw" Activity for Teaching about Uranium Mining on the Navajo Nation

Erin Klauk
Montana State University
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This activity takes an Earth system approach to teach about uranium mining on the Navajo Nation, and can be modified to teach a variety of case studies.

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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 skill or conceptual prerequisites.

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 related to these sites 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. Students are assigned to investigate different aspects of the same problem or issue. For example, each team might analyze a different but related data set or read an article on different aspects or viewpoints on the same topic. Once each team member thoroughly understands his/her team's aspect of the problem, new groups are formed, with at least one representative from each original team. Each individual then explains her/his team's aspect of the problem to the new group. In this way, every student learns different aspects of the problem. Each group then uses combined information to create a complete summary of the issue. The jigsaw technique is based on work published by Barbara Tewksbury [Tewksbury, 1995] .

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

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Supporting references/URLs

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