The Impact of Highways and Vehicle Traffic

Teacher Note: Depending on the length of class time available, this lesson may take 2-3 sessions to complete.

Learning Outcome

Students evaluate the human impacts on local ecosystems.


Goal: Students will discuss and evaluate the effects that highway construction and vehicle traffic have on local animal populations.

Activate Prior Knowledge: With a partner, students complete a T-chart comparing the pros and cons of highway construction. Conduct a class discussion on how the construction of highways affects local animal population and migration patterns.

Key vocabulary to discuss: air pollution, noise pollution, displacement, traffic, traverse, confused, vibrations, strewn, society.(Definitions)

Predict and Question: Ask the students what questions they may still have regarding the construction of highways and the impact on local ecosystems. Predict the most significant effect of local highway construction.

Task: Students will demonstrate their understanding of the impact of highway construction on local ecosystems through independent projects.


Reminder: It is important to stop throughout the video and give students (A/B partners) the opportunity to talk or respond to the video. Students can track ideas on the T-chart during the video.


Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 1.18.10 PM

(Video Length: 2 mins)

A/B Partners – Students complete their T-chart sheets and share their ideas with both their partners and class.


Students then complete one of the following options to demonstrate their understanding and extend their thinking of how highways and traffic affect local animal populations.

  • Write a letter to the regional government authority detailing the effect of highway construction on local wildlife.
  • Create a poster which takes a position either for or against a proposed new highway being built near the community.
  • Create a television/radio commercial promoting a side for or against a proposed new highway being built near the community.
  • Write a play/dramatization of how a new highway will affect local animal populations from the animals point of view. (ie. Writing in role of a deer/bear etc…)
  • Write a newspaper article which covers the construction of a new highway being built in the community.

(Consider allowing 2-3 classes to complete these activities.)


On the back of their T-chart sheets, students write two new ideas they learned in the discussion around the human impact of highway construction on local animal populations.

Extend learning or next lesson

Students contact their local governmental authority and access an aerial map of their community to select the best location for a new highway corridor.