Skip Header
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Examining Changes to the Environment Through Pictures and Data

Examining Changes to the Environment Through Pictures and Data

Activity Description


Students will examine how human actions and population changes can affect the environment. Students will examine a series of photographs that compare famous landmarks (Times Square, the Saltair Pavilion in Utah, Laguna Beach, and Niagara Falls) across time, and then they will identify human-generated changes in the physical environment, such as the addition of bridges and roads. Students will also examine U.S. Census Bureau population and housing data to see how population changes can contribute to changes in the physical environment. In addition, students will describe the impact of these changes on the environment.

Suggested Grade Level


Approximate Time Required

60 Minutes

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to describe changes they see in photographs of the same location or landmark taken in different years.
  • Students will be able to explain how population changes and other factors affect the environment.

Materials Required

  • The student version of this activity, 15 pages
  • Teacher computer with Internet access and a projector to display Web sites

Activity Items

The following items are part of this activity. The items and their sources appear at the end of this teacher version.

  • Item 1: New York City, NY
  • Item 2: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Item 3: Laguna Beach, CA
  • Item 4: Niagara Falls, NY

For more information to help you introduce your students to the Census Bureau, read Census Bureau 101 for Students This information sheet can be printed and passed out to your students as well.

Teacher Notes

Blooms Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy

Students will be able to understand how human behaviors affect the physical environment.


Elementary School Geography


  • Environmental changes
  • Population

Skills Taught

  • Analyzing changes over time
  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Drawing conclusions


Back to Header