Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
3-4 students
Active Time
2 hours
Total Time
2 hours
Area of Science
Environmental Science
Environmental Engineering
Key Concepts
Biodiversity, deforestation, global warming, engineering design
Learning Objectives
  • Explain the impacts of deforestation on climate change and biodiversity.
  • Practice using the engineering design process to build a machine that fits specific design criteria and constraints.
  • Evaluate competing design solutions based on the agreed-upon design criteria.
Credits
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies

Overview

Forests are the green lung of the Earth and home to millions of different plant, fungi, animal, and bacteria species. Unfortunately, today many forests are threatened by deforestation, which causes significant biodiversity loss. Ongoing reforestation efforts across the world intend to counteract the effects of deforestation. As planting trees by hand does not scale well, machines on the ground, as well as flying drones have been developed to help plant tree seedlings or seeds. In this lesson, students will be challenged to design and build their own miniature seeding machine that will place seeds on a grid in a specific pattern as quickly as possible.

Remote Learning: This lesson plan can be conducted remotely. The Engage section of the lesson can be done over a video call, then students can work individually or as a virtual group during the Explore section, using the Student Worksheet as guide. In a virtual group setting, each group member would need to build their own prototype. A set of materials can be prepared in advance or students can use materials found around the house. The Reflect sections can be done over another video call. Students can present their final design solutions either on the call or they can share pictures or drawings of their designs on a class drive.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-LS2-5. Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.
  • MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions. Undertake a design project, engaging in the design cycle, to construct and/or implement a solution that meets specific design criteria and constraints.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.
LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience. Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; their characteristics can vary over time. Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations.

Biodiversity describes the variety of species found in Earth's terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. The completeness or integrity of an ecosystem's biodiversity is often used as a measure of its health.

ESS3.D: Global Climate Change. Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth's mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions. A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it.

Sometimes parts of different solutions can be combined to create a solution that is better than any of its predecessors.

ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution. The iterative process of testing the most promising solutions and modifying what is proposed on the basis of the test results leads to greater refinement and ultimately to an optimal solution.
Stability and Change. Small changes in one part of a system might cause large changes in another part.

Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World. The use of technologies and any limitations on their use are driven by individual or societal needs, desires, and values; by the findings of scientific research; and by differences in such factors as climate, natural resources, and economic conditions. Thus, technology use varies from region to region and over time.

Materials


Materials needed for the 'Counteract Deforestation by Designing a Seeding Machine' lesson.

The following are the materials needed per student group of 4 for building the seeding machine. These materials are suggestions and can be changed as needed. You can select the quantities for each item. Make sure each group receives the same quantities of each material. In a remote learning setting, the materials for each group can also be flexible.

  • For potential wheels: Round objects like bottle caps or CDs, foam board or cardboard
  • For potential axles: Straws, jumbo straws, wooden skewers, paper rolled into tubes, pencils, etc.
  • For the body of the machine: Plastic bottles, cardboard or tissue boxes, cardboard tubes, etc.
  • Construction supplies: Tape or masking tape, scissors, glue, etc.
  • Other supplies: Cardstock, string, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, different-sized disposable cups, resealable bags, rubber bands, paper clips, etc.

Material per student group of 4 for testing the seeding machine:

Reviews

|
Science Buddies |
Was this review helpful?
Be the first one to review this lesson plan.
Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
3-4 students
Active Time
2 hours
Total Time
2 hours
Area of Science
Environmental Science
Environmental Engineering
Key Concepts
Biodiversity, deforestation, global warming, engineering design
Credits
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
Learning Objectives
  • Explain the impacts of deforestation on climate change and biodiversity.
  • Practice using the engineering design process to build a machine that fits specific design criteria and constraints.
  • Evaluate competing design solutions based on the agreed-upon design criteria.
Free science fair projects.