Trail Impact Study

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In this outdoor activity, learners plan a simple foot path and create an environmental impact study of the natural area where the path would be. These steps help learners role-play the scientific process required for many public decisions regarding development projects, such as housing, roads, oil drilling, etc. Learners use math skills to measure the slope where the path would be set. They also scout the site for hazardous organisms like poison ivy, and consider possible environmental problems like erosion and threats to endangered species. Finally, they present a simple Environmental Impact Report on their "findings." This activity can be done on a hill close to home, school or other learning sites, or can be planned as a field trip to a nature center or local open space. Elements of the activity can also be well combined with discussions on news stories about human impact on the environment.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Field Trip, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • sets of 25 small flags (different color for each team)
  • meter sticks
  • 150-cm long pieces of string
  • pencils or short sticks
  • line levels
  • data board
  • marking pen


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
    • Measurement
      • Rate
    • Number and Operations
      • Fractions
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and the Environment
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
      • Public Policy
      • Ethics
    • The Scientific Process
      • The Scientific Worldview
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
    • Science as a Career

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



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