Department of Environmental Conservation

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Tens! Hundreds!! Thousands!!! Of Tons

Lesson Plan

Students will practice mathematics skills using information about ships visiting the Port of Albany on the Hudson River.


Students will solve problems that require them to:

  • read and interpret data from a table;
  • use estimation in finding solutions involving large numbers;
  • compute average loads of ships docking in Albany;
  • recognize that ships play a role in transportation and commerce in the Hudson Valley.

Grade level:

Elementary (Grade 5)

Subject Area:

Math, Social Studies (Geography)

New York State Learning Standards:

Mathematics, Science, & Technology Standards 1, 2, 3
Social Studies Standard 3


  • Interpret data from tables.
  • Use rounding and estimation to find reasonable answers.
  • Calculate the mean for a given set of data.
  • Apply mathematics in real world settings.
  • Reason mathematically.


Preparation time: 5 minutes
Activity time: 30 minutes


Each student should have:


The Hudson River is a major shipping route for oil, grain, cement, and other commodities. A small unit of any of these products has little worth; transporting huge loads by water minimizes shipping costs.

The Port of Albany is the destination of many vessels seen on the Hudson. The largest grain export elevator east of the Mississippi loads ships with grain brought to Albany by rail. Molasses brought to the port is mixed with grain to produce feed for livestock. Road salt also arrives by ship, as does wood pulp. Scrap metal is shipped out of Albany. Heavy equipment - windmill blades, generators, and turbines - enters and leaves the port on heavy lift vessels.

While oil is not included in data on cargoes handled at the Port of Albany (the tank farms located in the area are privately owned), gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, and other petroleum products are - by volume and value - the most important cargos on the Hudson River. Tankers and tanker barges bring oil to Albany, and carry ethanol, brought in by rail, to refineries elsewhere in the Northeast, where it is blended into gasoline. Also not included in the data are the frequent shiploads of gypsum brought to a wallboard (sheetrock) factory in Rensselaer, across from Albany.


  1. Discuss the kinds of ships and cargoes seen on the Hudson.
  2. As needed, review skills (estimating; calculating means) required to answer the questions.
  3. Point out that some questions require gleaning data from more than one table.
  4. Go over the worksheet with the class, or assign as in-class work or homework.

Vocabulary List and Answer Key:

Available in the pdf version of this teacher's section and in the package that bundles all of the readings.


  • Have students share answers to questions from worksheet, or collect and grade sheets.
  • Use other data from the table to make up similar problems for quiz.


  • Information about the Port of Albany is available from the Albany Port District Commission. Use the links leaving DEC's website on the right side of this page to visit the Albany Port District Commission's website.
  • Line drawings and descriptions of types of ships seen on the Hudson and New York Harbor can be viewed using the links leaving DEC's website on the right side of this page