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OVERVIEW: You are about to embark on a virtual trip around the world as a member of a research team to investigate different countries and report your findings as presentations to the rest of your class. Your specific role will change with each country you visit.


The GAIA Foundation*

Promoting a Balance Between People and Nature

6230 Avenue of the Americas, Washington D.C., 10235

* not affiliated with any actual organization


Dear Member:

Congratulations on your recent appointment to one of The GAIA Foundation research teams. This letter will introduce the project to you and the problems each of you will face as you strive to accomplish your research.

As you are aware, the GAIA Foundation is a multinational corporation with an interest in research and development of nations throughout the world. We are interested in promoting the well being of our planet through international education and assistance. We are going to select five nations that exhibit global consciousness and responsibility.

Your TASK, along with your team members, is to investigate each nation chosen by your team. Each of you will be responsible for one area of expertise and will gather data in your area for each country you explore. Your role will rotate as you travel to each country. You will be responsible for reporting your findings as a group to the General Assembly on a regular basis and for keeping a record of your research and reports for future use.

After the research is completed, the General Assembly, of which each of you is a member, will be responsible for choosing the nations and allocating the funding for each of those nations according to the criteria which will be set by the General Assembly before your first mission.

We at the Foundation look forward to working with each of you on this project. Please take a moment to peruse each field of study from the list below for an explanation of your responsibilities.

Team Members:

1. Team Leader: You are responsible for the overall operation of your team. You must keep the team on track. You should seek the advice of your team members but any final decisions are yours. You must arrange for transportation (plane tickets, hotels, food and supply prices, etc.), compare countries currency with U.S. dollar (car, home, groceries, gasoline, movies, etc.) by examining local newspapers, magazines, etc. It is your responsibility to organize the overall presentation of your group.

2. Political Liaison/Economist: You are in charge of understanding the political climate of the country. This includes a brief history of the political structure and stability of the current government in power and possible problems on the horizon for that nation. What is its stand on human rights, on the environment, on foreign issues? Always try to contact the nation's leader with questions you might have.

3. Botanist/Zoologist/Environmentalist: Your function is to report on the flora and fauna (plants and animals) of the country, their stability and endangered species status, as well as an overall view of the environmental conditions of the country. You will work with the political liaison to determine the government position and activity regarding the environment.

4. Historian/Archaeologist/Anthropologist Sociologist: Your job is to create a brief profile of the history of the nation and to identify any archaeological sites in the area worthy of exploration. Investigate and report on the major cultural developments including art, music, and literature. Include photos, music, etc. where appropriate.

5. Navigator/Cartographer/Geologist: You are responsible for creating the maps of each of the nations you are researching. These should include maps of political, topographical, population density, and natural resources. You will also plot the longitude and latitude of various locations throughout the country. You will report on major features of the landscape as well as lakes, rivers, deserts, forests, etc.


In order to accomplish the task at hand you will follow this process:

1. As a General Assembly, your class will determine the criteria for judging each nation. Create a scoring sheet to be used by each member student of the General Assembly to score each presentation and rate the country. Save the scoring sheet for the final evaluation and choice of five nations to award. Remember that the goal of The Gaia Foundation is to promote harmony between people and nature, so your criteria should reflect this ideal.

2. Your team MUST analyze one country in EACH of the regions listed below. You must check to insure that no other team is going to that country. You may travel to the countries in any order you wish. Consider placing a world map on the wall and marking each country chosen.

3. As an individual research team member you will conduct research relevant to your position. You will meet with your team members and organize a class presentation for each country. You may use whatever presentational aides are available and appropriate. Be creative, interesting, and informative.

4. Each team member will maintain a travel log describing their research and impressions of the country they are investigating. Use your imagination in addition to photos, etc.

5. As a member of the advisory council you create a scoring sheet will listen to reports from the other research teams and rate each country with a numerical value on the forms provided. You must keep your evaluation in order to make your final decisions.

6. After each research team has given all five of their presentations, they will choose one of their countries to present to an outside agency (another class, a group of teachers on prep period, etc.) This outside group will use the same criteria to choose two nations that will receive aid and recognition.


The following RESOURCES will be beneficial in your travels:


It is important that your research meet the criteria set for each job description and that each individual work as a part of a team to create your presentations. The basic information must be gathered for each job assignment. Your use of a variety of information resources, the citation of the resources used, and the use of technology for presentation must be observed or documented.


Your performance evaluation (grade) will be determined on different levels. For EACH presentation you will receive:

One grade(25%) based on YOUR contribution to the presentation
One grade (50%) based on YOUR research. Documentation research citations and travel log must be turned in for grade.
One grade (25%) based on group presentation.

PASSPORT: Each member of the team will be issued an American passport. It is important that you do not lose your passport. Attach a recent photo in the space provided and fill in the information. You will turn in your passport each time you give a presentation on a country. Your grade will be entered and your passport returned. If you lose your passport you will not be able to move on to the next country with your team until a new passport is issued by the American Embassy. You will receive a NO CREDIT for the next presentation but may join your group in the following countries.

RUBRIC FOR SCORING: Since each of you has a different responsibility in the group, your work will be different and your evaluation will be given according to what YOU were supposed to accomplish, not the other members of your team. In general, the following chart will determine your grade:

To receive 90-100 points (A) your work will demonstrate EXCELLENCE. Your research is well documented and relevant. Your section of the presentation is both informative and interesting. You have gone beyond what was required in the assignment and shown critical and original thinking. In the real world you are on the fast track. Your superiors recognize your extra effort and it will eventually pay off in raises and promotions. The sky is the limit for you.

To receive 80-89 points (B) your work will demonstrate an ABOVE AVERAGE research and presentation. You have done all of the work required in an exemplary fashion. You work is good, which is a notch below excellent. With more effort you could be producing excellent work. In the real world you would be recognized for performing above average work and promoted periodically.

To receive 70-79 points (C) your work will be ADEQUATE. You have fulfilled the assignment but you have not shown originality or creative thinking. In the real world you would be allowed to continue at your job but you would probably not receive a promotion or gain recognition very often.

To receive 60-69 points (D) your work will be SUBSTANDARD. You have not fulfilled the assignment but you have made an effort. In the real world you would be placed on probation and told to improve or face losing your job.

Any scores of less than 60 will be considered FAILURE. You have not made the minimum effort to accomplish your research goals. In the real world you would be LET GO.


At the end of the project you will reflect on the process and product you created with this exercise. Answer the following:

1. What research skills did you learn and perfect during this exercise?
2. What interesting information did you learn about the countries you studied?
3. What part of this exercise helped you most to learn?
4. If you were doing this exercise again, what would you do differently?


At the end of this activity you will have learned about a number of countries in different parts of the world. Not only did you learn where a country is, but how it is. You learned about the government and the environment, the history and the culture. Considering all of the information you gained about the countries studied in class, in what ways has your perception of the United States and its place in the world changed or modified?


Grade Level/Unit:

Grade 9 Geography

Units 6 - Human Environmental Interaction

Grade 10 World History and Geography: The Modern World: Unit 10

Unit 1 Unresolved Problems of the Modern World


H/SS Content Standards

10.10 Students analyze instance of nation-building in the contemporary world in two of the following regions or countries: the Middle East, Africa, Mexico and other parts of Latin American, or China, in terms of:

  1. challenges in the region, including its geopolitical, cultural, military, and economic significance and the international relationships in which it is involved
  2. the recent history of the region, including the political divisions and systems, key leaders, religious issues, natural features, resources, and population patterns
  3. the important trends in the region today and whether they appear to serve the cause of individual freedom and democracy

Chronological and Spatial Thinking

3.students use a variety of maps and documents to interpret human movement, including major patterns of domestic and international migration; changing environmental preferences and settlement patterns; the frictions that develop between population groups; and the diffusion of ideas, technological innovations, and goods

Historical Research, Evidence and Point of View

4.students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations

Lesson Purpose:

Students will gain a greater understanding of the various regions of the world by participating in a realistic investigation of each country.

Students will use computers, online databases, and print materials to gather information about each country. They will read, analyze, evaluate, synthesize and present their ideas through multi-media.

Goals: Students will gain a deep and varied understanding of various modern countries, their locations, political and economic structures, and histories as an introduction to the study of twentieth century world history.

Information Literacy Skills:

Lesson Length:

This lesson is designed to be used over the course of a semester in a geography course, or as a four-week unit to introduce world history and geography. Ideally, each presentation should be approximately 10 - 15 minutes in length.

1. Semester long - you will have to average three to four presentations per week.

2. Four-week unit - combine in class research time and presentation time. Outside research will be needed.

Resources or Materials Needed: The more student access to the Internet, the better. Other resources such as travel videos of a particular country, travel magazines, etc. will bring the country to life.

Teaching Steps:


Teacher informs class that they will be participating in a simulated global research program and that each student will become an expert in a certain field of study and the teams will be visiting eight foreign countries. They will be working in teams of five with each student having unique responsibilities. They will be working together and will create a class presentation after they study each country.

In the end, the students will choose the nation they feel best fits the criteria established by the class at the beginning of the activity. They will then present that presentation to an outside group, possibly another class or a few teachers on their prep period. The top two or three nations should be selected according to the criteria set and the winning TEAMS should receive some sort of prize from the teacher (extra credit, free time, whatever is appropriate for your class.)

Getting Started: Making the passports

Anything in this lesson can and should be adapted liberally to fit the teacher's situation. You, as the teacher, may want to rotate the roles of the students within each group so that each student gets a chance to do each job.

Pass out letters and passports to students and allow them to make their passport. You, as the teacher, may choose to use the color version or the black & white version, but be sure that the front cover with the eagle emblem and the photo page are back to back when you copy them. To create passport:

1. Fold in half horizontally along center.
2. Fold in half vertically along center.
3. Cut white trim from bottom and side.
4. Carefully cut off top edges to insure that each page opens properly.
5. Staple along crease in center.

Assigning Groups: This can be done any way the teacher chooses. Each group must have five, and only five, members. The teacher might choose team leaders and member positions or allow students to choose. Each group should create a name for their team.

Problem Based Learning- An understanding of Problem Based Learning will be beneficial to the teacher and students through class discussion before the activity begins.


Name: Thomas Mayton
Location: Littlerock High School
Antelope Valley Union High School District
SCORE CH-SSP Technology Academy 1997
Reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Al Rocca, Simpson College
Last revised 6/28/06