Lesson Plan

Virtual Expedition and Ecotourism in Africa

Join us as we embark on a virtual journey throughout Africa exploring geography & ecotourism.
Amber P.
Technology coordinator
Cherry Creek School District
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts
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Join us as we embark on a virtual journey across Africa to ancient cities, vast deserts, rainforests, and grasslands with beautiful views, amazing animals, and inspiring people who protect and defend Earth’s natural beauty.  Students will be able to explore the many geographical and cultural aspects of Africa.  Through the exploration process, students will begin to examine how geography and ecotourism impacts how people live.

Social Studies
Grades 6 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Virtual Reality Practice and Class Brainstsorm

Hook/Attention Getter:  Quick class brainstorm

  1. How does geography impacts the way you live?
  2. How do others view the way geography impacts the life of a teen in Colorado (or other region)?  Is the perception correct?  
  3. If you have a smartphone or access to apps download the Google StreetView app (could do this before class)
  4. Search for the city where you live on Streetview.  What inferences can we make about people based off of the images shown?
  5. Check out surrounding images too.  More insights may be discovered. This would work well if you have access to Google Cardboard. You can even make your own!

2 Virtual Reality Journey

  1. Explain that Africa is filled with diverse people, cultures and geography.  We will explore how geography impacts how people live by “traveling” to 5 different African countries.  This is still just a snapshot but helps to display the diversity.
  2. Random groups of 3 (or 4 if needed) using Flippity Random Name Picker


  3. Students virtually travel to different locations and collect and record shared data and make inferences based off of their research.  Students will record their findings using Google Slides.  Here is a TEMPLATE you could use.

    I have selected for students to travel to: Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, Tanzania and then they select their own location for the 5th stop.  You can change the locations to meet your needs. 

  4. Students will use StreetView and Google Cardboard to identify the country on the map and explore the images provided.  If you do not have Google Cardboard you are still able to see 360 views.  Phones are nice to feel more like a virtual field trip.  The site will still work in a browser.  It would be ideal to have 1 set of Cardboard for each group of three.
  5. Students will also need to access the CIA World Factbook for information on each location.  
  6. Google Treks has some interesting collections for SOME of the locations (Egypt, Kenya, and Tanzania).
  7. Discovery VR is another virtual reality app that can help students feel like they are on a virtual field trip and quickly displays information on protecting wildlife and ecotourism.

3 The Value of Ecotourism

The Value of Ecotourism:

  1. Now that we have explored diverse lands across Africa it is easy to see why people travel to experience the beauty of people and places.  Ecotourism  is a trend seen throughout the continent.  Using Quizlet, go over definitions and words associated to Ecotourism (may consider words like Trade-off, nomadic, pastoralism,  grasslands, and incentive).
  2. Use Flippity Random Name Picker to create groups of 5.
  3. Use the lesson guide and Vimeo video from Nature Works Everywhere.  Students will take the role of an Older Kenyan Cattle Rancher, Kenyan Government Representative,  Kenyan Cattle Rancher’s Son, or a Nature Conservancy Scientist.

    Side note: Nature Works Everywhere also hold events where they use Google Hangouts and looks at work related to how geography impacts the way we live.  It may be worth checking out!

  4. Students work together as a group of 5 to identify who will assume which role, and support one another make decisions with that role.  They will create short skits that include roles for a group of ranchers faced with the opportunity to begin an ecotourism business or sell to a large agricultural business.  
  5. Skits: Students collaborate on a Google Slide (each person gets one slide) to share rationale for choices and decisions made for the person in that role. 
  6. Students upload their shared Google Presentation into Movenote and share skit or personal narrative into Movenote which must explain whether or not you decided to sell your land, the consequences of selling or keeping the land, and what you will do after you keep/sell the land.  This will be used as an individual formative assessment.
Student Instructions

Nature Works Everywhere Scenario:

You are a cattle rancher in Kenya. You have been approached by a big business that is offering to buy your land for more than anyone else is willing to pay.  They want to grow cotton. 

Once the land is used for this purpose it will no longer be able to support cattle or wildlife.  Wildlife is your country’s main source of income.  Your main source of income is cattle. Lately, you have been considering making extra money through ecotourism. You need to consider the trade-offs. A trade-off is a choice that is made to gain one benefit while another is given up.

Think about your country’s economy, your long-term personal finances and how much you value your traditional culture when trying to decide if you will sell your land.

4 Reflection

Activity: Other — Exit Slip

Exit ticket as formative assessment:
Have individual students reflect and about why they agree or disagree with their group’s decision to keep or sell the land.

How did this scenario connect to the essential question on how where you live impacts how you live?