Northwestern Indiana Landscape Unit

Moriah Weitman, University of Maine
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Initial Publication Date: September 22, 2020 | Reviewed: August 4, 2022


In this lesson, students will investigate the question, what is the effect of climate on glacial landscape processes? Students will be guided through understanding how climate factors, such as temperature and precipitation, affect the growth or depletion of glaciers using the online resource Climate Reanalyzer. Students will then investigate how glaciers influence topography by studying a variety of glacial landforms, and then connecting these landforms to the Indiana landscape through an ArcGIS storyboard.

After understanding how glaciers influenced Indiana directly, students will study the formation of Lake Michigan, and how the Last Glacial Maximum influenced the creation of the Grand Kankakee Marsh. Students will look at the distribution of sediment deposited by glaciers in Indiana with the online resource Soil Explorer to better understand the lasting glacial impact on the area, relating it to industry and human interaction. With knowledge of glacial influence and landscape features, students will apply the formations to the area they are living in by independently researching specific glacial history and creating a Google Earth tour of their area. At the end of this lesson, students will be asked to draw conclusions on how the future of glaciers and the global landscape will be affected by climate change.

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This lesson is meant to be used in a 9-12 earth science or environmental science class.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must have a base level knowledge of the hydrologic cycle, Earth spheres, and the concept of feedback within the Earth system.

How the activity is situated in the course

This unit is meant to be a used as a series of activities, ending in a project. Each part of the unit can be adapted separately, but they build upon each other in their concepts. Each worksheet can be used for distance learning, or can be used outside of class time. One activity can be used as a classroom discussion or worksheet. All materials span about 5 hours to complete.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

The content of this lesson covers current climate, glaciers, paleoclimate, and future climate change. This unit also targets northwestern Indiana landforms, geomorphology, and economic resources.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The following skills will be gained form this lesson: critical thinking, spatial thinking, evaluation of models, synthesis of ideas, and formulation of hypotheses.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students will also gain skills in the use of technology and communication through writing.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students will need access to computers and internet to be able to complete this unit.
Northwestern Indiana Unit (Acrobat (PDF) 2.9MB Sep11 20)
Northwestern Indiana Unit (Zip Archive 23.3MB Sep11 20)
Lake Michigan Geomorphology (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 399kB Sep11 20)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Teachers should work through all materials before assigning them.


Answer keys and rubrics are provided for all worksheets with the exception of Glacial Features of Indiana and Future Predictions. Glacial Features of Indiana is meant to be used a discussion guide. Students should be assessed on their participation in the conversation. The Future Predictions worksheet can be assessed on the reasoning showed in students' answers.

References and Resources

Standards Alignment

"Indiana Academic Standards for Science 2016" (2016).

"Next Generation Science Standards" (National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2014).

Intro to Glaciers: 

Geographic, N. (Producer). (2017, December 11). Climate 101: Glaciers [Video file]. Retrieved from

Climate Reanalyzer 

Birkel, S. (n.d.). Climate Reanalyzer. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from

Glacial Landscapes 

Diggles, M. (2013). Glossary of Glacial Terminology - Text Version. Retrieved September 11, 2020, from

All photos referenced on worksheet 

Glacial Features of Indiana 

Sturgeon, P.R., Loope, H.M., and Russell, K., 2017, Glacial Features of Indiana: Indiana Geological and Water Survey Digital Information Series, 14, <>.

Lake Michigan Geomorphology 

Information from: Thompson, T. (2020). After the Thaw - The Development of Lake Michigan. Retrieved August 22, 2020, from

Map referenced on worksheet 

Soil Explorer 

Isee Network (2015 – 2020). Soil Explorer. Online at Accessed <September 11, 2020>.

Glacial Landscapes Project 

Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved September 11, 2020, from

Future Predictions 

What Happens If All The World's Ice Melts? [Video file]. (2015). Retrieved from

This work was supported by National Geographic Society grant EC-5515OR-18 to Katherine Glover, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine.