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My NASA Data


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans, 90 minutes
  • Worksheets

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, Arizona


Jamboard, Google Docs, PDF

Analyzing Land Changes Over Time

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  • This 90-minute lesson guides students through analyzing land cover changes in Phoenix, Arizona, using NASA satellite imagery from their Landsat program in 1984 and 2018.
  • Students will classify land cover, record this data in a table, calculate the change over time, and discuss the ecological impacts of land cover changes.

Teaching Tips


  • Students use real-world data from NASA satellite technology to explore environmental concepts.
  • The lesson plan is detailed and provides excellent facilitation tips to lead discussions.
  • The lesson is interdisciplinary, connecting geography, technology, math, and science.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The resource includes a PDF of the lesson plan, a PDF of background information for teachers, and Google Docs and Jamboard versions of the student sheet.
  • If students are unfamiliar with analyzing satellite imagery, there is a link to a different lesson titled "Exploring Satellite Imagery and False Color Images" which could be completed first.


  • Students will need to complete a percent change calculation when analyzing land cover change.  The formula is provided in the student worksheet, but some students may need assistance to plug in the correct values.
  • Some students may need assistance in articulating their findings in the "Interpreting the Data" section.  Consider having students work in pairs to discuss their data and formulate their responses.  Then have a class discussion of their findings where students may revise their recorded responses and explanations.
  • Teachers can expand on the concepts of pervious and impervious surfaces by doing a lab exploration of different materials and land surfaces.
Scientist Notes
The resource will deepen students understanding in analysing and interpreting satellite imageries on land cover land use (LCLU), classifying and reclassifying of changes in earth's feature including vegetation, rate of urbanization, water etc. from two satellite imageries of Phoenix, Arizona (1984 and 2018). The resource is recommended for teaching
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2. Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
      • HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
    • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Within Ecosystems
      • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
  • Social Studies
    • Geography
      • SS.Geog3.b.m Analyze spatial patterns of social and economic development in a variety of regions in the world. Identify how people, products, and ideas move between places (e.g., internet commerce, outsourcing).
      • SS.Geog1.b.h Interpret maps and images (e.g., political, physical, relief, thematic, virtual, electronic) to analyze geographic problems and changes over time.
      • SS.Geog5.a.h Analyze the intentional and unintentional spatial consequences of human actions on the environment at the local, state, tribal, regional, country, and world levels.
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