Environmental Science Lesson Plans (14 results)

As humans we are part of the environment. With over 7.5 billion of us on Earth, our combined actions also have a big impact on the environment. As long as we are aware of the impact, we can do things as individuals, and working together as groups, to lessen the detrimental impact of billions of people. Explore important topics like air quality, water quality, the effects of climate change, and many others to make informed decisions about caring for our planet.

Lesson Plan Grade: 5th-8th
Do sea levels rise when ice melts? Does it matter whether the ice is on land or in the ocean? Students design an experiment to find out. They collect data, graph their results, and interpret their findings. Along the way, they learn about density, displacement, and climate change. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 5-PS1-2. Measure and graph quantities to provide evidence that regardless of the type of change that occurs when heating, cooling, or mixing substances, the total weight of matter is conserved.
  • MS-PS1-5. Develop and use a model to describe how the total number of atoms does not change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved.
Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd-7th
In this two-part inquiry-based activity, students will practice using the scientific method while learning about decomposition, exploring how some types of garbage will decompose while others will not. Students can then go on to design their own experiment to test different variables affecting the rate of decomposition. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 5-LS2-1. Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
Does human activity impact the environment? If so, how can we measure our impact on the environment? How can we use these measurements to change our behavior? In this project, your students will explore these questions by designing and building an electronic circuit that can measure environmental parameters like water quality or light pollution. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-10th
In this two-day lesson, students will be introduced to several issues related to the social, economic, and environmental impacts of our current food system, including food waste, food deserts, agricultural land use, and the environmental impacts of diet choices. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd-11th
Have you ever thrown away food after a meal? Have you ever thrown away a whole piece of food? What are some of the reasons you threw away that food? During this Food Waste Audit, students will explore their own impact on our food system. Students will brainstorm solutions to reduce their food waste and be challenged to try out their solution! Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
Lesson Plan Grade: 4th-8th
In these two activities, students will explore two consequences of burning fossil fuels: air pollution and the greenhouse effect. For a comprehensive unit on fossil fuels, this lesson works especially well as an extension to Fossil Fuels: Chocolate Chip Mining. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 4-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment
  • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
Lesson Plan Grade: 4th-8th
The problems with using fossil fuels starts with extraction. In this activity, students "mine" chocolate chips out of cookies to demonstrate the effects mining can have on habitats. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 4-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment.
  • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-11th
Can we use a model to predict the impacts of nutrient pollutants on an aquatic ecosystem? In this activity, students participate in a kinesthetic simulation to illustrate how nutrient pollution from agricultural runoff can lead to a dead zone at the mouth of a drainage basin. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
Lesson Plan Grade: 5th-9th
Could you describe the kelp forest food web as a system? Your students will design and use a simple model to test cause and effect relationships or interactions concerning the functioning of a marine food web, ranking their hypothetical ecosystems according to their stability when faced with a natural or man-made disturbance. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 5-LS2-1. Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
  • MS-LS2-3. Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
  • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
  • HS-LS2-6. Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
Why is the ocean vital to our planet? There are many reasons, but one important one is that the ocean is a major player in regulating our weather and climate through currents. In this lesson plan, your students will model ocean currents with cups, water, and food coloring, and explore how temperature and density differences set deep ocean waters in motion to create a global oceanic circulation system. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ESS2-6. Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.
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