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This inquiry-based unit has students investigate how conserving and protecting our water supply impacts the biodiversity and sustainability of ecosystems.
Using a series of brainstorming activities, videos, hands-on learning opportunities, an interactive website, games and a final research project/presentation, students assess the impact of human activity on both clean drinking water and biodiversity. They describe the interrelationships within species, among species and between species and the environment. Specific attention is paid to the effects of acid rain and invasive species in reducing biodiversity. Students also begin to classify different organisms based on common characteristics.
Each activity can serve as a stand alone lesson, or be combined with other lessons to provide a comprehensive unit on Biodiversity. Action projects are supported in the 'future opportunities' and 'extension' parts of the resource.
Activity One: The Water Cycle
Students use graphic organizers to brainstorm water use and its impact on living things. Topics include water pollution sources and where water comes from. Students explore websites and videos on the water cycle, ground water, and watersheds. They conduct a simulation of the water cycle and research local and global precipitation rates for comparison. After reading a book called “The Water Dance”, students paint different parts of the water cycle and display the whole process on the wall. They research Aboriginal myths about water and compare them to current scientific facts.
Activity Two: Biodiversity Introduction
Students write their own definitions of “biodiversity” and post them on a board. They watch a Bill Nye video and complete questions regarding issues/concepts raised in the program. A class discussion ensues.
Activity Three: Classification Introduction
Using the signs with the terms, fungi, plant, insect and the five classes of vertebrates written on them, students, in groups, describe what they think each term means. They then decide which group/term would have the least number or most number of members. Using the Ecokids website, and guiding questions, students learn about biodiversity, the environment and the impacts of human activities.
Activity Four: Biodiversity Games
Three separate games are included to demonstrate how the concepts of unity and diversity are addressed in biological classification. As a wrap-up activity students write down questions they have about biodiversity in Canada.
Activity Five: Biodiversity Inquiries
Students complete a computer-based biodiversity inquiry. They select an ecosystem from a map of Canada and create a slideshow and/or 3-D project for presentation to the class. After learning about what invasive species are all about, students conduct research on specific invasives.
Activity Six: Final Wrap-Up Games
Wrap-up games are used to inspire students to make personal connections to what they have learned. An Aboriginal game reinforces concepts introduced about the water cycle and the impacts of acid rain. Another outdoor game demonstrates the transfer of energy in a lake ecosystem and compares a healthy habitat to one that has been impacted by invasive species.
This resource can be used effectively in science classes to explore habitat and biodiversity and the important role of water in their sustainability. It is also serves as a good introduction to the classification of living things and promotes an appreciation of the interdependence of all species in an ecosystem. It is also relevant to social studies and geography classes that explore the link between human activity and environmental and economic sustainability.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Good|
Students take part in a number of activities, which include brain-storming, reflection on videos, experimentation, active educational games, and a major research project. The teacher acts as a facilitator, prompting and guiding reflection, analysis, and experimentation.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Good|
A major theme of the resource is the important role that water plays in sustaining biodiversity in global ecosystems. The environmental impacts of human activity affect the quality and availability of clean water, and have other negative consequences on these ecosystems moving forward.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
Although not examining all aspects of the issue, it will promote dialogue within groups of students. The focus is on inquiry-based learning.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Satisfactory|
Action opportunities are encouraged and suggested in the future opportunities segment of this resource.
|Acting on Learning: |
Learning moves from understanding issues to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community, or for the planet
The resource encourages students to do some self-reflection, but there needs to be more opportunities for students to express and clarify their own values and role in sustaining biodiversity.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Satisfactory|
|Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).|
|Personal Affinity with Earth||Very Good|
Planet stewardship is a focus of this resource, especially in working to sustain water resources and ecosystems. The educational games are also played out-of-doors, as well as the ground water/ precipitation rate activity.
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
|Locally-Focused Learning||Very Good|
Students study biodiversity in a Canadian context, research local precipitation rates, and learn about Aboriginal water myths of Canadian Indigenous people.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Satisfactory|
Present day situations are described in the videos, and on the ecokids website. The games simulate the relationships between species, and their habitats. Students are asked to be part of the solution in the future.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
Students are encouraged to come up with their own conclusions, The resource aims to enhance curiosity via inquiry-based hands-on learning opportunities.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
Although primarily a science resource, there are opportunities to address outcomes in social studies, geography, language arts, and art.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
Many varied activities are used which include videos, simulations, experimentation, brainstorming, active games, and an inquiry project. There are no strategies provided for learners with difficulties.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
There are hands-on learning opportunities associated with the water cycle. The simulation of the water cycle helps make learning concrete.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Satisfactory|
Tools include questions on black line masters related to the videos, reflection sheets on the water cycle activity, KWL tasks, and exit cards for self-assessment for the research project. Although learning goals and success criteria are given, there are no true rubrics to assess student work.
|Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.|
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
The Bill Nye video provides some real world examples of biodiversity, the interconnections between all living things, and the challenges in sustaining ecosystems in the future.
|Case Studies: |
Relevant case studies are included. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore concepts in an authentic context.
|Locus of Control||Very Good|
The inquiry project allows students to head off in different directions in their learning and they choose the medium in which they wish to work.
|Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.|