Ken Burns Classroom

Build a Park

Ken Burns Film: The National Parks

Collections: Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)

Subject: Science

Grade Level: 6-10

Run Time: 1 class period

Read students the National Park Service (NPS) mission statement: “The NPS preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.” Lead a discussion about why wilderness areas exist, the balance between humans and nature, and all the factors that must be taken into consideration in managing and maintaining a national park.

Divide students into groups of three and give each group a set of words:

  • Group 1: Enjoyment, Education, Inspiration
  • Group 2: Preserve, Unimpaired
  • Group 3: Enjoyment, Education, Inspiration, Preserve, Unimpaired

Now have each group design a park that upholds the words they have been given and make five rules to ensure that their visitors are adhering to their park’s mission. Then do a park tour and have each group present their park and its rules. (Activity courtesy of NatureBridge. Learn more at

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