Resources for Places We Live Activity 3 – Mapping Your Community Through Time

Student teams investigate the social, cultural, economic, aesthetic, and environmental components of their community to create map overlays and reports describing the development of their community through time.

This is one of 8 activities that can be found in PLT’s Exploring Environmental Issues: Places We Live moduleTo get the activity, attend a training and receive PLT’s Places We Live secondary module. Below are some supporting resources for this activity. 


Download the copyright-free student pages that are included with this activity:

Maps and Map Features (PDF)

Case Study" Developing San Antonio's Broadway Corridor (PDF)

Team Pages (PDF)

Research Hints (PDF)


The following tools and resources may be used to enhance the activity.

  • How Much Hotter is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?

    This Interactive Climate Change Model, developed by the New York Times, asks: How much hotter is your hometown than when you were born? Global temperatures continue to rise each year and in many parts of the world temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit will become more frequent. Discover how much warmer your hometown is now than when you were born and investigate future projections.

  • WikiWatershed

    This web toolkit is designed to help middle, high school, and college educators and students – as well as citizens, conservationists, municipal decision-makers, and researchers – advance their knowledge and stewardship of fresh water. Developed by the Stroud Water Research Center, the toolkit enables users to share watershed-model scenarios, watershed-monitoring data, and watershed-management stories as an open, collaborative community. Learn more and access archived training webinars for educators at

  • SeedSmart

    Teachers and students can use SeedSmart to find answers to basic questions about a site you might be wanting to restore. Some of these questions include: Which species are native here? What are the important soil characteristics I should know about? Which plants grow best in this setting? Which plants will be more likely to thrive under changing climatic conditions? The tool is compatible with any smartphone or browser and allows users to zoom in to their local ecosystem and determine the mix of native species that are best suited for a particular site. This first of its kind, all-in-one web application was developed by NatureServe, an international biodiversity conservation organization.

  • USGS Water Science School

    This U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Water Science School website offers information on many aspects of water, along with pictures, data, maps, and an interactive center where you can share your opinions and test your water knowledge.

  • NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, & Information Service (NESDIS)

    NESDIS gives access to global environmental data from satellites, manages these data relating to the Earth and solar environments, and conducts related research. The website lists resources for students and educators. The resources include posters, slide sets, teacher guides and quizzes, a glossary, fact sheets, and handouts.

  • Earth from Space

    This Smithsonian Institution website provides students (and teachers!) access to views of conditions and events on earth that are nearly impossible to document from the Earth’s surface. The site proves interactive; explaining how satellite imagery is gathered and used to better understand the world around us.

  • WETMAP: Wetland Education Through Maps and Aerial Photography

    WETMAP: Wetland Education Through Maps and Aerial Photography develops workshops and supports a website for educators that provide basic ecological concepts, technological skills in the use of maps, aerial photography, satellite imagery, and methods of interpretation necessary for understanding and assessing wetland and upland habitat change.


    INFOPLEASE provides users with a list of cities and their geographic data.

  • “Growth and Water Resources” Training Module

    “Growth and Water Resources” Training Module explains how changes in land use affect water resources, and it presents national data on trends in development patterns that have become increasingly significant challenges for achieving water quality standards. EPA’s Watershed Academy Web has over 50 modules on a wide variety of watershed management topics. The Academy also offers a Watershed Management Certificate program for visitors who complete 15 required modules.

  • My Community, Our Earth: Geographic Learning for Sustainable Development (MyCOE)

    My Community, Our Earth: Geographic Learning for Sustainable Development (MyCOE) is designed for youth to develop their own projects using a vast array of free on-line resources including; a student project guide, GIS software, gallery of past projects, access to maps and data worldwide, and a pool of expert mentors.

  • View a Location from Space

    If classes are interested in looking at their school from space (or their house – for that matter) they can try the Mapmaker from National Geographic or Google Maps.  

  • The Place Where You Live

    Orion magazine has reinstated its popular column called “The Place Where You Live.” This is a space where students and educators can share thoughts and experiences related to their communities or personal places.  First-hand feelings are shared, such as what connects individuals to their special place, the history it holds, their hopes and fears for it, as well as resources necessary to protect it, prepare it for the future, and/or improve it.

  • iNaturalist

    iNaturalist is a species identification app that allows users to record their observations of living things by way of taking photos and appending GPS coordinates to their discoveries. Each user has their own profile and can follow others to keep a tab of what others are posting, or share what they have photographed. The app also facilitates connections with thousands of scientists to help users identify the species they have observed.

    Another exciting aspect of iNaturalist is that users can contribute their photos and data and participate in a number of citizen science projects. You can find a list of some of these projects here or click on “find your location” using this map to see the observations in your area. You can also develop your own for your school or local community!

  • Agents of Discovery – Free Mobile App

    The Agents of Discovery Mobile Game is a place-based, environmental education game for iOS and Android devices that blends best practices in gaming industry technology with experiential outdoor education. It is designed to connect youth with nature, educate them about local ecosystems, and promote physical activity using readily accessible technologies. After downloading the free app, students head out to participating sites in their community and search for hidden QR codes which unlock challenges based on the mysteries of nature. Possible locations include Mount St. Helens, Los Angeles, Houston, and more. Try it today!

  • EnviroAtlas

    EPA’s new EnviroAtlas tool is designed to help communities and researchers make informed planning and policy decisions related to the environment and ecosystems. EnviroAtlas provides datasets and interactive tools to allow users to explore the many benefits people receive from nature, often referred to as ecosystem services. EnviroAtlas includes over 300 data layers, letting users analyze how decisions affect ecosystems and their ability to provide goods and services. Key components include:


  • Why Trees? Video

    As we know, trees represent more than just beautiful natural elements of our land, they also provide shade, manage water, stop erosion, protect streams, soothe the soul, clean the air, protect the quality and health of water, and attract homeowners, renters, and shoppers. Check out this Doodle Lecture created by Alabama Cooperative Extension that unveils the many benefits of having trees in our communities.