Lab 3: A Bird's Eye View: Exploring Your Region


The place where you live and go to school is different in many ways from everywhere else. It has a special combination of characteristics such as climate, kinds of living things, soils, bodies of water (streams, rivers, lakes, etc.), and land cover; elevation, and latitude and longitude. As you travel farther away from your school or study site, geographic features will start to look different. If you could look down at your study site from far above, you would see that your school and local study site are part of a larger region.

In Part A of this activity, you will look at diagrams and descriptions of study sites from other regions, and compare them with your own. In Part B, you will use Google Earth to explore and define a region around your local study site. Finally, in Part C, you will consider the inputs and outputs of your region and predict how changes in those inputs and outputs might affect other components of the Earth system.

After completing this investigation, you should be able to:
  • compare and contrast local study sites in different regions;
  • identify a region for study as an Earth system by finding boundaries;
  • describe the region's boundaries so that others can find them on a map;
  • identify some scientifically appropriate inputs and outputs of a system at the regional scale;
  • predict how changes in the input or output of one component of a system might affect other components, reflecting the concept that parts of a system shape each other through their interactions.

Keeping Track of What You Learn

Throughout these labs, you will find two kinds of questions.
  • Checking In questions are intended to keep you engaged and focused on key concepts and to allow you to periodically check if the material is making sense. These questions are often accompanied by hints or answers to let you know if you are on the right track.
  • Stop and Think questions are intended to help your teacher assess your understanding of the key concepts and skills you should be learning from the lab activities and readings.
Your teacher will let you know which answers you should record and turn in.