Lesson Plan - How are we Changing North Carolina?

A Lesson Plan for Grade 8 Science

By Jennifer Job, School of Education, UNC-Chapel Hill

Objective: Students will look at soil survey maps to draw conclusions about the impact North Carolinians have on their state.

Detail from 	Soil map, North Carolina, Craven sheet, 1903.

Time Required: 30 - 45 minutes.


  • Smartboard
  • Computer lab

Teacher Instructions:

  1. This lesson is meant to accompany instruction on soil type, use, and erosion. It works well if students have a general knowledge of these topics.
  2. Project a map of NC on the board with counties outlined. One may be found at: North Carolina Maps: Browse by Location webpage.
  3. Ask students to find Cumberland county. Discuss with your students what that area of the state is known for (e.g., farming). Ask what type of soil they expect to find in this area, and why.
  4. Project the soil survey map of Cumberland county from 1884 (http://dc.lib.unc.edu/u?/ncmaps,250) on the board. Ask students to list the types of soil they notice. Which type seems to dominate the area? What would that soil be good for? Use the internet to find out what type of crops are grown in Cumberland county. Next, ask students to predict what kind of changes would be seen in a map from 1922. Would there be more categories of soil or fewer? Would the soil change? Why or why not?
  5. Project the soil survey map from 1922 (http://dc.lib.unc.edu/u?/ncmaps,1142) on the board. Have the students point out the different types of soil that are included now, and have them reason why this might be. What does greater knowledge of the soil type give us (e.g., certain plants grow better in certain soil). Notice the increase in silt from 1884. Ask students to explain why this would be so.
  6. Finally, discuss with students how the soil would change from then until now. You may do this in one of two ways. You may have students compare their own county (or a nearby one, if your county is not available) from the NC Maps site to a current soil survey map. These are easily obtainable, usually by email, from your local government soil and conservation office. Or, you can request a current Cumberland county map from the following site: http://www.co.cumberland.nc.us/soil_water/soil_survey.asp.

Assessment: This is a formative assessment exercise. You may have students write up their answers.

North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

Eighth Grade Science

5.05: Use maps, ground truthing and remote sensing to make predictions regarding:

  • Changes over time
  • Land use
  • Urban sprawl
  • Resource management