Earth Science Week Classroom Activities

Making Your Own National Park Geologic Tour

National Park Service

Activity Source:

National Park Service, 2006. Adapted with permission.


In this investigation, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the many geological features in our country’s national parks. You might not realize this, but a large number of the national parks were created because of their amazing geology. Just think of the geological features of Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and many more!

You will use two Web sites for this activity: the U.S. National Park Service’s Web site and the American Geosciences Institute’s Image Bank Web site. Using both of these as resources, you’ll create a PowerPoint presentation that will demonstrate to citizen scientists like yourself the variety of geological features of the national parks.


Either with a partner or by yourself:

  • A computer with Internet access and PowerPoint software
  • Paper and pencil to sketch out a presentation


  1. Travel to the National Park Service’s Web site for geological features at Choose a feature, such as sand dunes, volcanoes, caves, or glaciers. Click on that feature to go to the list of parks that contain that feature.
  2. Once on the next page of the Web site, select a park that is in your region or that you would like to visit. Take the virtual tour of the geology of that park, writing down important points that you would like to share with other citizen scientists.
  3. Either by yourself or with a partner, make a diagram of images and words that you could use to teach someone else about the geology of your selected park. When you are satisfied with your diagram, get back on the Internet and travel to the Image Bank Web site at You can browse for images or search by category for ones that you think will help with your presentation. Click on the images you want and save them in a computer file for your educational presentation.
  4. Now, create a template for your PowerPoint presentation by starting from scratch with the software or by using a PowerPoint Wizard. Write a story, slide by slide, that tells about the geology of your park. Try to keep your words to a minimum, and let the pictures tell the story. You might also find it useful to include a map in your presentation, so viewers know exactly where your park is.
  5. When you finish creating your presentation, arrange with your teacher to show it to the rest of the class. You might also present it to a younger group of students in your school or to a parent group. Before you actually present, however, be sure to conduct enough research on the geology of your park that you will be able to answer your audience’s questions. For example, what major rock types and landforms occur in your park? How did they get there? Be sure to direct listeners to the National Park Service’s Web site so that they, too, can tour the parks!