Form Meets Function


Starting with the Great Basin National Park quarter, students will understand and explain some of the distinct ecosystems and natural features of Great Basin National Park.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters


Students will understand and explain some of the distinct ecosystems and natural features of Great Basin National Park.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Art


  • 9th
  • 10th
  • 11th
  • 12th

Class Time

  • Sessions: Two
  • Session Length: 45-60 minutes
  • Total Length: 91-120 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Small groups
  • Individual work

Lesson Steps

  1. Display and examine the "Great Basin National Park Quarter" page or use the zoom feature on the coin's page at Locate Great Basin National Park on a class map. Note its position in relation to your school's location. As background, explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 designs. Each design will focus on a different national site— one from each state, territory and the District of Columbia.
  2. Distribute the "What Are Ecosystems?" worksheet. As a class, discuss the term "ecosystem." Record student responses and a definition on chart paper. Have the students record the definition on their worksheets.
  3. Divide the class into seven groups. Have the students brainstorm what they can tell about the features in the quarter design and answer the questions on the bottom of the worksheet. Then discuss the Bristlecone Pine, record student responses on chart paper and?? if necessary, provide the correct answers for the worksheet.
  4. Assign each group one natural feature from the "What Are Ecosystems?" worksheet. Using available classroom and online resources, have each group research the assigned feature, fill in the definition and create an artwork that illustrates the feature.
  5. Have each group present their definition and artwork to the class. Have all the students note all the correct definitions on the "What Are Ecosystems?" worksheet so they have information on all seven features.
  6. Have the students create a map incorporating all of these ecosystems and natural features. Invite them to invent a location or use an existing one. Review the directions on the "Ecosystems Map Rubric" with the class.
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Use the students' maps and the rubric to assess whether they have met the lesson objective.

Common Core Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.

National Standards

Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
Domain: 9-12 Visual Arts
Cluster: Standard 5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Grade(s): Grades 9–12


  • Students identify intentions of those creating artworks, explore the implications of various purposes, and justify their analyses of purposes in particular works
  • Students describe meanings of artworks by analyzing how specific works are created and how they relate to historical and cultural contexts
  • Students reflect analytically on various interpretations as a means for understanding and evaluating works of visual art


  • Students correlate responses to works of visual art with various techniques for communicating meanings, ideas, attitudes, views, and intentions