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Grades 6-8 Lesson Plans

Food Webs: What a Tangled Web We Weave (Grades 4-8)

This new twist on a classic activity teaches students about the importance of species such as pikas and prairie dogs in their ecosystems.

Pikas and their Environment: Predicting Where They Live (6-8)

In this web-based lesson, students collect general information about the American pika, develop hypotheses and predictions about what limits where pikas live, and then use real scientists’ data to test their hypotheses and graph their results.

The Effect of Snowpack and Connectivity on Pika (Grades 6-12)

This engaging, interactive classroom activity helps students understand how snow pack, climate change and habitat connectivity can impact the American pika.

Build a Pollinator: Bee and Flower Anatomy (Grades 3-8)

This is a fun way to explore pollination and the complexity of the relationship between the flower and the pollinator. Students will learn the anatomy of a flower through (fake) flower dissection, learn about the anatomy of a bee, and create their own bee out of art and craft supplies.  Looking at simulated flowers they can reflect on what draws the pollinator to the flower, how the pollinator accesses its reward, and how the pollinator collects pollen while visiting the flower.

Pika Body Size and Adaptation (Grades 6-12)

This multi-part lesson focuses on natural selection of body size in pika populations. Part 1 focuses on the importance of body size in animal thermoregulation, using geometry to assess heat loss in different size pikas. Part 2 is an exercise in natural selection, in which students simulate several generations of pikas and how the population’s average body size changes depending on the environment they are in. Part 3 allows students to analyze and graph real pika body size data and interpret their results.

What the Bees Need: Pollinator Nesting Phenology (Grades 6-12)

This lesson brings real native pollinator data into your classroom! Students will improve their graphing and quantitative skills by exploring citizen science-generated data from the University of Colorado’s Bees’ Needs program. The lesson explores the phenology, or timing, of native pollinator nesting behavior and the environmental factors that trigger this behavior. It also incorporates the concepts of variation in populations and natural selection, as well as the effect climate change is having on species-environment relationships.

Insect Pollinator Diversity: Activity Cards and Bee Bingo ( 6-12)

This activity is a fun way for students to explore the amazing diversity of bees and wasps. Students are given incomplete pollinator species cards that they must fill out before moving on to the next activity. Using the ScienceLIVE website students can research their species and complete the needed information regarding it's natural history and ecology. Once completed they will use the species cards in an educational game of "Pollinator Bingo".

The Science of Camera Trapping  (Grades 6-8)

Students analyze camera trap images to determine the type of scientific data that can be gathered from these images (i.e., species identification, habitat) and discuss the role and value of this data for scientific research.

Life in the City  (Grades 6-8)

In this lesson, students use camera trap data from wildland, rural, and urban areas to determine the effects of human development on wildlife communities. This exercise introduces students to the ecological concepts of species richness, life history traits, and niches, as well as using Google Sheets to make graphs.

Capturing Ecological Patterns with Camera Trapping Data (6-12)

In this open-ended, inquiry-based lesson, students use skills learned in earlier lessons on camera trap data to develop their own question about wildlife that can be answered with data from Colorado's City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP). Students develop a question, hypothesis, and research plan, they then collect appropriate data from the OSMP to answer their question and draw conclusions from their results.

Outfoxed: Red and Gray Fox Niches and Adaptations (6-8)

The goal of wildlife ecologists is to study how wild animals interact with their environment. One of the most common questions wildlife ecologists ask is where certain species live, and conservation biologists add to this question, asking how humans impact where species choose to live. This lesson uses online tools and data from the Smithsonian’s Urban to Wild camera trapping project to find out how two different fox species use the habitat available to them, how their adaptations help them live in different habitats, and how humans affect these species.

Of Microbes and Men: The Nitrogen Cycle Game (6-12)

Students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle to gain understanding of the varied pathways through the cycle and the relevance of nitrogen to living things.

Glaciers on the Move: Build Your Own Glacier (Grades K-8)

In an inquiry base activity, students learn about how glaciers move by observing how a "flubber" glacier slides down a tiny mountain valley. While honing their observation skills, they will learn how slope and basal conditions (roughness of the ground surface) affect glacier movement.

Pine Tree Anatomy & Pine Beetles (Grades 6-12)

To better understand the process by which beetles kill their host tree and how trees defend themselves against beetle attacks, it is useful to know some basic tree anatomy. The activities in this lesson will familiarize students with the basics of softwood anatomy at the macroscopic and microscopic scales as well the process by which the bark beetle infects a host tree.

Predator-Prey Beetles Game (Grades 6-12)

In this lesson, students play a simulated board game of Clerid Beetle vs Mountain Pine Beetle. This game and graphing activity is a fun way to represent the predator prey model showing how each population responds to the other.

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