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Park Resource Profiles - Hot Springs NP

Although Yellowstone became the world’s first official national park, protection for Hot Springs Nat’l Park came nearly 50 years earlier when congress used its powers to establish the first federal reserve in the United States in 1832. Eventually, the reserve was renamed a national park in 1921 so one could argue that from a certain point of view Hot Springs is our country’s oldest national park.

With a geologic story as rich as its human history, the opportunities to use Hot Springs as a learning resource are plentiful, provided you know where to look for resources. Here are some of my favorite resources for integrating the "Valley of the Vapors" into your classroom;

Key Base Resources

Park Brochure (1980s Edition)

Junior Ranger Activity Book - download a copy of the Junior Ranger activity book here!

Video Overview of the park- 58 National Parks series

Curricular Connections - History, Science

Geothermal Properties - Hot Springs was put on the map because of its geothermal properties. The park website provides a wealth of information on its website regarding the parks geothermal properties and a distance learning program which provide great authentic examples for NGSS standards connections in the following areas;

MS-ESS2-1: Cycling of earth's material and other energy driven processes.

HS-ESS2-1: Create a model of earth’s internal processes.

MS-PS3-4: Relationships between energy, mass, and materials.

HS-PS3-4: Evidence of thermal energy transfer.

History Text - Hot Springs has an incredibly rich human history. From indigenous tribes who bathed in the waters to the development of the therapeutic bathhouses, there is a lot to learn and much of it is available in this detailed guide.

Oral History Project - in the 1980’s, park staff tracked down bathhouse attendants and captured their recollections and stories for posterity. This is a great example of the power of spoken history and can provide students with a great exemplar for the creation of their own community-centered oral histories.

Historic Baseball Trail - Hot Springs has strong ties to “America’s favorite pastime” which can be explored thanks to a free app and guide materials on the Historic Baseball Trail website! This is a great way to connect sports-loving students to history and provides an excellent example of how to lift up history and other topics of interest to make them more public and accessible.


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