Where Do We Live?

Jaclyn Augustine Hoahing

University Neighborhood High School, Manhattan

Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

August 2009



Subject:  Earth Science

Introduction:  The first year I taught about the Hudson River I projected a map of New York City and found that the students could not properly identify the five boroughs or the bodies of water.  Some of them didn’t even know where the map was of.  I was amazed how many students did not know that Manhattan was an island, or who thought that when they go to the beach here they are swimming in the Pacific Ocean.  I think it is extremely important for our students to be familiar with their own environment.  Ever since then I have incorporated several lessons about the NY Harbor estuary and the geography of New York City.  I created this lesson to be an introduction into the geography of New York City and the types of ecosystems.


Students will be able to:

  1. Identify the 5 boroughs of NYC on a map.
  2. Identify the Hudson River, East River, Harlem River, Long Island Sound, and Atlantic Ocean on a map.
  3. Define the terms; estuary, watershed, tributaries.





Elicit: Give students the worksheet as a do now.  Give them 5 min. to complete it.  Then go over it using the second slide of the Powerpoint presentation.

Engage:  Ask students where they live?  Invite a few students to come up and point out where they live on the map.  Change to a different map and see if they can still identify different areas.

Explore: Go through Powerpoint presentation

Explain:  As you go through the presentation point things out on the map.  Find where your school is.  You can show that the Harlem River and East River are not ‘real’ rivers and actually the same water as the Hudson River.     

Elaborate:  This presentation can be a jumping off point for many topics.  It could lead into a unit about aquatic ecosystems, watersheds, water quality, where our drinking water comes from.  During the presentation you can elaborate on any of these topics.   

Evaluate: The following day give the map again as a do now and see how they do.  I usually put the map on quizzes or on tests continuously throughout the year.

Extend:  After the presentation I ask the students to do a think-pair-share of animals they think live in the water of the Hudson River Estuary.  If we have time I go over some pictures of animals that live in the Estuary.  For homework I ask the students to list the nutrients they think are important for the organisms that live in the estuary.


National Standards: Life Science, Personal and Social Perspectives

New York State Core Curriculum – Living Environment – Standard 4

            1.1b An ecosystem is shaped by the nonliving environment as well as its interacting species. The world contains a wide diversity of physical conditions, which creates a variety of environments.

            7.1c Human beings are part of the Earth’s ecosystems. Human activities can, deliberately or inadvertently, alter the equilibrium in ecosystems. Humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, consumption, and technology. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems may be irreversibly affected.

            7.2a Human activities that degrade ecosystems result in a loss of diversity of the living and nonliving environment. For example, the influence of humans on other organisms occurs through land use and pollution. Land use decreases the space and resources available to other species, and pollution changes the chemical composition of air, soil, and water.