Ecosystems & Habitats, Intermediate 5-8


In the ESP’s Ecosystems and Habitats unit, students learn about the ecosystems and habitats of their schoolyard and local areas in New York State. Students take on the role of ecologist and land developer by studying the schoolyard ecosystem and then working with a team of students to develop that parcel of land with as little impact on the ecosystem as possible. Students learn about the SEQR Act and Environmental Impact Statements that are used daily by real-life land developers and architects. They, in turn, apply their knowledge to their own development project. The concepts of community and populations are emphasized through exploration of food chains/ food webs, ecosystem cycles, (water, carbon, nitrogen), photosynthesis and decomposition. Students also explore the various biomes around the world through research and presentation of information. Students develop a sense of stewardship and an understanding of the human impact on the environment.

The Neok12 website provides a variety of resources that can be used throughout this unit. There are videos that provide examples of the words species, population, community, and ecosystem. Quizzes and games are also provided on this website to support this unit.

The Windows on the World website contains a video from NBC Learn called the “Changing Planet: Adaptation of Species.” This site addresses the rising temperatures of the Earth due to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The video explains how species may not be able to adapt to this temperature change, in particular, butterfly populations. Butterflies are extremely sensitive to these climate changes. 

National Geographic provides “quick flicks” on their website. In this video, Tim and Moby give some good information on food chains.

The EekoWorld website gives students a background on the different biomes using characters that live in each biome. It also encourages students to take care of the environment.

More information about the world biomes can be found from the Missouri Botanical Garden website.

The New York State Department of Conservation website has everything you need to know about the natural environments of New York, including information on the SEQR Act and Environmental Impact Statements.

The U.S. Geological Survey website provides information about the natural environments around the United States.

This TED Ed video - “Symbiosis: A Surprising Tale of Species Cooperation" - gives an example of mutualistic symbiosis between the Clark's nutcracker and the whitebark pine.

Sample websites students can use to research their biome:

Sample Environmental Impact Statements to be used in Activity 13:

  • See related files below to access these samples

Related Files

South Suburban Airport, Chicago, IL
South Suburban Airport, Chicago, IL
South Suburban Airport, Chicago, IL
South Suburban Airport, Chicago, IL
American Centrifuge Plant, Piketon, Ohio
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