Lesson 608: Oregon: Violent Past and Verdant Present

More than any other of the contiguous United States, Oregon has been shaped by volcanoes. East and west of the Cascade Range are two different landscapes. On the east side, we climb through lavas of volcanic glass and follow a mountain hike trail at the edge of a flow, then venture west to the fertile valleys and the wild Pacific coast in all its glory.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the varying volcanic landscapes of the Cascade Range.

Social Studies Standards

Science, Technology & Society: A, E

Discussion Prompts

  • Oregon’s east and west sides of the Cascade Range have different volcanic landscapes. How different might be the lives of the people from the east side from the people from the west side? Which side is better? Why do you think that? 
  • There are three types of volcanoes: composite- tall, steep cones; shield – very large; gently slope mounds; and cinder cones – smallest. Which one is more prominent in Oregon? What pattern do you notice between the volcano and the areas around the volcano?
  • Talk about oysters, estuaries oyster growers and compare to the work of a fisherman. Which job is more challenging and financially rewarding? Why?
  • It appears that oyster growers do not sell the shells. What are some of the ways they could repurpose the shells?

Lesson Activities

  • Your job just transferred you to Oregon but on the opposite side of the Cascade Range than you want to live. Write a persuasive e-mail to your boss, explaining in detail why you would be better suited for the job available on the side of the Cascade Range you prefer. 
  • Imagine that a volcanologist just noticed that a dormant volcano is showing signs of activity. Create a list of things that people would have to do to prepare for the possible eruption. Prioritize the list since time is of the essence.
  • Create a postcard with an oyster life cycle diagram. Write where the best places to grow oysters are so oyster lovers can visit.
  • You are one of the winners of a lottery prize and the prize is 160 acres at Homestead Village. However, for you to receive your prize, you will need to show how you are going to revitalize the ghost town. With a partner, create a display illustrating your ideas for your classmates to select the best ones for you to continue the process.


  • caldera
  • coniferous
  • contiguous
  • estuary
  • hospitable
  • nutrients
  • obsidian
  • razors
  • sandwiched
  • verdant


In the Americas Season 6 Lesson Episode 8