MnSCU Partnership > Teaching Activities > Wonder Lake, a Case Study

Wonder Lake, a Case Study

Matthew Whitehill, Lake Superior College
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This activity was submitted by an educator in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) System to the Sharing Our Work Virtual Learning Community. Sharing Our Work was the culminating piece of a collaboration between MnSCU and Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL). Information on the the criteria and process of the peer review can be found at

This page first made public: Feb 24, 2010


This classroom based activity has students assigned to one of 25 different roles, relating to the sale of a 1000 acre parcel of land on fictitious Wonder Lake. A (student run) town board will hold hearings before making a decision and issuing a written explanation of what they will allow to happen. Various parties interested in the process include mining companies, resort owners, farmers, developers, water supply manager, etc. Each is given the chance to speak up.

Learning Goals

Oral and written presentation, critical thinking, collaboration.

Context for Use

Introductory level science course at the end of the semester in a Minnesota's Geology course. 3-4 class periods.

Description and Teaching Materials

Day 1. Instructor hands out cover page, with scenario, and associated maps. Students read and ask questions as they relate. Instructor then assigns roles to students. Students are given 15 minutes to meet each other in their assigned roles, perhaps discuss alliances, collaboration, etc. A timeline is established for upcoming town meetings.
Day 2: At the meetings the instructor is the town clerk, responsible only for taking minutes. The town board (chair) is responsible for conducting the meetings. Town board members are responsible for asking questions to be sure they completely understand what each interested party is proposing.
Day 3: Same as day 2
Day 4: town board meets in private to discuss and draft a statement about their decision.
wonder lake scenario and roles (Microsoft Word 53kB Jan25 10)
wonder lake maps (PowerPoint 68kB Feb21 10)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Assessment is completed by instructor assessing students, students assessing each other, and student self reflection. Instructor rubric assigns a score for participants based on their participation, mastry of material, and how well they related their oral arguments to geologic concepts covered earlier in the semster. Students assess their peers based on participation, and how involved they were at the town hall meetings. Students will also write a 1 page paper, reflecting on the activity, what they learned and what if anything they would do differently next time. Instructor & Student Rubric (Excel 15kB Feb21 10) Self Evaluation Assignment (Microsoft Word 24kB Feb21 10)

References and Resources