A Final Performance Across the Disciplines

So you want to understand Latin America’s problems: poverty and illiteracy, overcrowding, earthquakes, and political instability (that’s right, war). Can Latin America overcome these problems? Is the United States helping Latin America all it can? What is behind these problems? One key topic we need to understand is the land itself. We will become three teams of experts exploring three key fields:

  1. What forces have shaped the land?
  2. What are the resources of the land?
  3. Why do people live where they do on the land?

Each group has special requirements they need to fulfill but in general, these are the expectations we have for you while you work and for the day of the final exhibition of your work:

“A” grade:

  • Everyone on team understands all the material well.
  • The team teaches the rest of the class effectively.
  • All diagrams and maps are effective and attractive.
  • Group uses class time effectively.
  • All are involved.
  • Group asks good questions of each other on team.
  • Group asks good questions of other exhibiting groups.

“B” grade:

All of the above are fulfilled almost thoroughly.

“C” grade:

  • One of the above is not fulfilled.
  • Either one or two people in the group are lost; or diagrams/maps are incomplete, messy, inaccurate; or group does not stay on task in class.

“D” grade:

  • You don’t know what you are doing.
  • You have omitted a required map or diagram.
  • You do not teach the class very much.
  • You dress funny.

Group 1. What are the forces that shaped the land?

Your group should construct detailed and instructive works for the following. You are also expected to understand the meaning of these diagrams. What do they show?

  1. Schematic diagrams showing the cross sections of energy forces below the surface of the land (volcanoes, trenches, etc.)
  2. Maps showing the land movement of the plates of the earth throughout earth history, focusing especially on the movement concerning Latin America. 

Among the things you will need to find out:

  1. Why are there mountains and volcanoes where they are in Latin America? (Why is this country full of highlands while Africa was mostly a land of plateaus?)
  2. What are the natural hazards of the land? Why is there a persistent threat of earthquakes? What has to be done or has been done to accommodate this natural hazard?
  3. How did the bridge between the Americas form? How has the movement of the earth’s plates effected migration in Latin America (plant and animal)?
  4. How does the earth produce the energy needed for all this colossal movement?

Group 2. What are the resources of the land?

Your group must find answers to and understand the following:

  1. What are the animal, vegetable, mineral resources of the land? (Any oil?) How rich is the land for farming? Is there enough water? What food do they rely on and in what parts of Latin America do they use certain kinds of food?
  2. Why do they have the kind of vegetation they have? Or, why are (or are not) the climate zones dry like Africa, which falls roughly on the same equatorial line and latitudinal lines as Latin America?
  3. How do the seasons differ from those of North America?
  4. How do Latin American birds and plants differ from those of Africa? Why do they have the adaptations, the differences they do? What special purpose do the unique plants of Latin America serve?

Your group must construct, and be able to discuss the meaning of, maps or diagrams showing the following:

  1. The vegetation/climate zones in Latin America.
  2. The atmospheric currents and important ocean currents which influence climatic zones in Latin America. You may need to include average rainfall statistics.
  3. The hydrologic cycle.
  4. The important resources and where they are found.

Group 3. Where do the people live on the land?

Your group is responsible for finding out:

  1. Where did the first societies (and first migrant people) live in Latin America? Why there? How could people have migrated to Latin America? Could people have come from Africa?
  2. Where was the population living around 1800-1850? What groups were living where? Why there? (Consider especially the groups/races of people throughout the West Indies and all of Latin America.)
  3. Where do people live today? Why? What are the different groups/races living in Latin America today? Where do different language groups/races live today? What effect does that have on the countries in Latin America?

Your group must be able to construct and fully explain the following:

  1. A map of the populations for each of the three questions above. Question 3 may require more than one map if you think it is necessary, or a clear overlay.

(Thanks to Chet Pielock and Loretta Brady at Adelphi Academy, Brooklyn, New York.)