Getting to Work and Making Money

By: Rose Gonzalez

Time: 1 Class Period
Materials: Overhead transparency or chalkboard


In this lesson students explain the role of geography and climate in relationship to professions and forms of transportation unique to their city. This lesson helps students develop their understanding about city geography so they can assess the multitude of criteria that play a role in city development, including environmental health aspects.

Students will be able to:
1. Explain how geography and climate play a role in the professions that are unique to their city.
2. Explain how geography and climate influence the forms of transportation in their city.

National Geography Standard
(11) The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth’s surface.
(11.2) How places of various size function as centers of economic activity.
(12) The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement.
(16) The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.
(17) How to apply geography to interpret the past.

Teacher Background

Related and Resource Websites
Local city census information
Local city geography and climate



1. Ask the students what might be 3 professions that are fairly specific to their city. For example, in Tucson, Arizona, the Astronomy Department at the University of Arizona is able to research extensively due to the city’s climate and surrounding geology. Jobs associated with astronomy are not only research astronomers, but also engineers and technicians involved in creating the telescopes. In a port city students might suggest long-shore or dockworkers. Some cities in Arizona conducting copper and uranium mining might be offered as examples. They should come up with 3 examples and explain how these professions are products of the city’s geography and/or climate.

2. Once students have identified 3 professions and how they relate to the geography and/or climate, they are to, as a class, create a chart of jobs and the aspect of the climate and/or geography that allows that profession to exist there.

3. Ask students to consider how city planning might reflect major industries in a city. For example, again in Tucson, city planning results in special types of night lighting that reduces light pollution. Light pollution would detract from the ability of the city to attract astronomers and therefore, millions of dollars annually in jobs in the city would be lost. Another example might be the organization of different types of transportation within a city.

For example, there is a need to have railroads connected to a port. Explain that cities often use zones to decide what can and can’t be built in a certain area. Those zones often take the cities economy into account, ex.
Flight routes may restrict housing and school locations and if the city has a large military base, maintaining flight routes may need to be balanced with the environmental quality for residents.

4. You may wish to return to the original review of the city that students performed and look at zoning again. Your local city government planning department will have information on zoning.

5. Ask students to list three forms of transportation used in their city. Ask students to answer the following question for each form of transportation: Explain how the city’s geography and/or climate helped this form of transportation develop in your city.

The teacher facilitates a question and answer class discussion based on the activity, making sure to focus the discussion on the original objectives which were to help students understand the influence of geography and climate in relationship to the ways people develop their cities and live within them.


Embedded Assessment
Are students able to explain how climate and geography affect employment and transportation in their city? Students can be assessed on their discussion of employment and transportation throughout the class discussion and within the responses they contribute to the class chart.

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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