Mount Everest: What Goes Up Should Come Down Unit Driving Question: How can we enjoy and explore unique natural areas while still protecting our environment?

Protecting Everest Lesson Driving Question: What actions can be taken to protect Everest and other natural areas?

1. Through an exploration of the Leave No Trace website, students identify practices that would be relevant to climbing Everest.
    • Engage students in an opening discussion to predict what it means to "leave no trace." Discussion questions include:
        • In what ways has human activity changed Everest?
        • Which of those changes are having the biggest impact on the mountain?
        • There is an organization we'll explore today called "Leave No Trace." What do you think it would mean to Leave No Trace on Everest?
    • Record student responses to the questions on the board or chart paper.
    • Distribute a copy of Government's Responsibilities vs. Individuals' Responsibilities for Protecting Everest to each student.
    • Share with students that Leave No Trace is an organization that focuses on supporting individuals in considering how they can reduce their impact on the environment.
    • Have students read both the Leave No Trace: Seven Principles and Leave No Trace: Problems We Solve and add what they learn about individual responsibility and action to their organizer.
    • After they read, lead a brief discussion.
        • How could Leave No Trace impact the challenges facing Everest?
        • What other protections does Everest need?

2. Using U.S. government-based websites that demonstrate governmental actions taken to protect specific environments, students begin to consider how the U.S. government has taken action to protect the natural environment.
    • Share with students that governments around the world also take action to protect the natural environments.
    • Have students visit the National Park Service Timeline (Annotated) and identify protections provided to National Parks through United States regulations, such as the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Wilderness Act of 1964. As they explore the timeline looking for regulations that have protected the environment, students should note: 1) the name of the regulation, 2) what is protected, and 3) the year it came into existence.
    • Ask: Based on this timeline, what types of governmental protections has the United States put into place to protect our unique natural areas? (Possible answers: The Yellowstone National Park Act of 1872 claimed over two million acres of land previously open to settlement, occupancy, or sale, and dedicated it and set it apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. Also, the Wilderness Act of 1964 established a preservation system and provided legal protection for parks that were threatened by development.)
    • Direct students to the Rules and Regulations of the Yellowstone National Park for further inspiration for their brainstorming. Point out a couple of the regulations, such as “The cutting or spoliation of timber within the Park is forbidden by law.” 
        • Ask: How is this an example of the government taking responsibility for protecting unique natural environments in the United States?
    • Ask: Based on reading you have done throughout this unit, what types of rules and regulations have we already learned about in regard to climbing Mount Everest? (Possible answer: Climbers must pay a fee.)

3. Have students collect examples of existing governmental regulations and proposed regulations to protect Everest.

4. Facilitate students participating in a whole-class wrap-up discussion.
  • Lead a full class discussion asking: 
      • What actions can individuals take to best protect the natural environment of Everest?
      • What government actions do you think would be most effective in protecting Everest?
      • How can individuals best be incentivized to protect Everest?
      • Are actions by individuals or actions by governments most important in protecting Everest?

Informal Assessment

Informally monitor students’ recordings on the Government's Responsibilities Versus Individuals’ Responsibilities for Protecting Everest worksheet to clarify any misunderstandings.

Extending the Learning

Debate Extension: As a class, read the article Everest Needs to Go More Commercial. Organize a class-wide debate on the topic allowing students to prepare their argument with other resources that have been used during the unit.

Subjects & Disciplines

  • Conservation
  • English Language Arts
  • Social Studies
    • Civics

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze the purpose, implementation, and consequences of public policies that impact Mount Everest and other natural areas.
  • Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of governments from those of citizens.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Information organization
  • Reading

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

The College, Career & Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards

  • D2.Civ.13.6-8:  Analyze the purposes, implementation, and consequences of public policies in multiple settings.
  • D2.Civ.1.6-8:  Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of citizens, political parties, interest groups, and the media in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental contexts.

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Chart paper

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Monitor/screen, Projector, Speakers, Word processing software

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Heterogeneous grouping
  • Large-group instruction

Background Information

Unique natural areas like Mount Everest are some of our world’s most wonderful and awe-inspiring destinations. People travel from far and wide and invest great amounts of time, money, and personal energy for the opportunity to set foot even in Base Camp I, and then risk their lives to ascend and reach the summit. However, human interference in natural areas comes with its own consequences that can only be controlled through individuals and governments taking responsibility for the preservation of our natural world. Necessary laws and regulations are important in land and resource management, particularly as a means of imposing restraints. These restraints, whether local, national, or international, are designed to protect the environment from damage and abuse, and to explain the legal consequences of such damage for governments or private entities or individuals.

Prior Knowledge

  • The United States Bill of Rights exists as a safeguard for citizens of the United States from the government. It sets rules that the federal government must abide by when judging its citizens in order to protect people from corruption of power.


Bill of Rights

first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.


visual representation of data. Also called information graphic or graphic.

land management

process of balancing the interests of development, resources, and sustainability for a region.


rule or law.


responsible management to ensure benefits are passed on to future generations.


use of resources in such a manner that they will never be exhausted.

Articles & Profiles