Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education
County Board News story (415kb)
Slide show

Community Land Use Planning
& the Visual Environment

An Interdisciplinary
Middle School Unit

Piloted with Hancock Middle School
Seventh Graders

(March 26-May 25, 2001)

Houghton waterfront Project Overview

After attending a teacher workshop, Viewfinders-Visual Environmental Literacy, conducted by the Dunn Foundation at the Copper Country ISD in Hancock in November 1999, several Hancock Middle School teachers collaborated with the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach at Michigan Technological University to write a grant to the Dunn Foundation to develop an 8-week interdisciplinary unit for middle school students titled: Self & Community, that would focus on the local area.

The teachers involved in the project are Linda Rulison, geography; Ruth Ann Smith, school librarian; and Ashley Hanson/Jean Dunstan, language arts. The new unit was team taught in the geography, math, and language arts classes.

Street scene
Street Scene
Parent's night presentation
Parents' night presentation

As part of the unit, students were able to:

    a. Identify the character of their community and what makes their community visually appealing;
    b. Describe how THE VISUAL ENVIRONMENT impacts the economic, environmental and aesthetic qualities of their community;
    c. Design and conduct public surveys to determine community attitudes (towards future growth, sprawl, private property rights v. common good, and community character);
    d. Become familiar with how community planning tools can be used to enhance their community's visual appearance and preserve the "character" of their community.
The unit is correlated to Michigan and National Content Standards for Social Studies, Language Arts, and Math. Local planners, architects, photographers, private landowners, realtors and economic development specialists came to the classroom as guest speakers to share their expertise and perspectives.

Unit Outcomes
1) Design and conduct "Shaping Our Future" survey with community members in each of four age groups and graph results. Determine whether responses vary by age group?

Parent's night
Linda Rulison, Grade 7 Social Studies teachers looks at projects
Parent's night
Student groups present their projects

2) Photo Display Poster - 22 groups of 3-5 students assigned a part of Hancock in which to:

  • Take photographs of what they like and dislike.
  • Prepare tracing of one photograph to show how a building or space could be enhanced to make it more attractive. Explain why they made the changes to their photo and why it enhances their area of Hancock.
  • Design brochure that highlights the most attractive features of their area from their perspective.

Gianfranco Archimede, photographer, critiques student photos
Parent's night
Parents study student projects

3) Children’s stories - read & critique stories about how land use changes affect plant, animal and human communities.

Student projects on display
4) Guest Presenters
a) Discuss and develop outline of what they learned from each

  • Glenn Anderson, Hancock City Manager
  • Steve DeLong, planner, Keweenaw National Historic Park
  • John Rosemurgy, historic architect, Keweenaw National Historic Park
  • Phil Musser, Keweenaw Industrial Council
  • Private property rights advocate
  • Charlie Eshbach, photographer, Keweenaw Traveler
  • Gianfranco Archimede, photographer & MTU grad student in Industrial Archaeology
  • Tom Vichich, realtor

b) Identify favorite quote by each speaker

Student projects on display 5) Student presentations to share what they learned.

a) Dates:

  • Hancock City Council - May 16
  • Hancock School Board - May 21
  • Hancock Seventh Grade Parents’ Night - May 23, 6:30-8:00 pm at school
  • Houghton County Commission (county where community of Hancock is located) - June 12 Display posters at Community Arts Center in Hancock in early September

b) Content of student presentations:

  • Students describe the key activities of the unit:
  • Students will summarize what makes the Keweenaw attractive for middle school students, and what would make it more livable.

Student projects on display Student projects on display

In 2001-02:
6) Community Enhancement Project - design and implement plan to improve a part of the community (landscaping, clean-up, adding park furniture, etc.)

Student projects on display

Funded by a grant from the
Dunn Foundation,
Warwick, RI


The Wege Foundation,
Grand Rapids, MI

Developed by
Hancock Middle School teachers:
Ruth Ann Smith
Linda Rulison
(Geography/Social Studies),
Ashley Hanson & Jean Dunstan
(Language Arts)

With Assistance from
Joan Chadde
(Center for Science and
Environmental Outreach
at Michigan Technological University)

Last Update: 2 November 2001
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