Classroom Activities

This is an area for teachers containing a variety of lab and classroom active learning lesson plans. In addition to containing detailed instructions for the activities, the lesson plans identify which grades and classes they are suitable for, the common core standards they address and the expected student learning outcomes (SLOs), and contain assessment activities for the SLOs. Answer keys have not been included with the assessments for these lesson/unit plans to prevent student cheating, but may be available upon request.

Using IMOLD to teach about Carbon Cycling and Decomposition
Author Susan Steiner, PolarTREC Teacher
Subject/ Course Environmental Science
Grade(s) 9-12
Unit Topic(s) or Theme(s) Organisms and Their Environments, Earth Science, and Climate Change
Description Susan Steiner, PolarTREC teacher with Dr. Weintraub on the expedition, Tundra Nutrient Seasonality, collaborated on IMOLD's design. In this four part lesson, students learn from animations that teach them about the carbon cycle, leaf anatomy, and microbes, all in the context of plant litter decomposition. Students then apply their knowledge in a model of decomposition that uses real data that students can manipulate as they pose and answer questions about variables that affect rates of decomposition.
The Rotten Truth: Carbon-Huh-What is it good for?
Author Jeanette Utter, Rogers High School, Toledo OH
Subject/ Course Environmental Science
Grade(s) 11-12
Unit Topic(s) or Theme(s) Decomposition
Description Carbon and the processes associated with its movement through the ecosystem are essential to life. Most often food webs are taught to students in 8th grade and 10th grade, but very little importance is given to the process of decomposition and its key role in the carbon cycle. Decomposition is usually treated as a side not to food webs and nutrient cycling. This lesson will help students recognize that these processes recycle carbon in the ecosystem, allowing it to be reused by all of the organisms on earth.
The Properties of Soil and Factors Affecting Decomposition Rates in Different Biomes
Author Adam Russell, Maumee High School, Maumee OH
Subject/ Course Environmental Science
Grade(s) 11-12
Unit Topic(s) or Theme(s) Properties of Soils, Biomes, Decomposition, Factors Affecting Decomposition
Description The ecology of our soils, including decomposition, is an important concept for students to understand. We will be tying together our understanding of biomes and biotic and abiotic factors to investigate the decomposition rates in different biomes, as defined by average annual temperature and precipitation. The biomes being investigated in this activity are: tundra, hot desert, tropical rainforest, and deciduous forest.
The Properties of Soil
Author Blake Parquette, Perrysburg Jr. High School, Perrysburg OH
Subject/ Course Environmental Science
Grade(s) 7
Unit Topic(s) or Theme(s) Properties of Soils (lithosphere), Water Cycle (hydrosphere)
Description Soils possess a unique set of chemical and physical properties that are important in identifying and understanding interactions between the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. They also play a vital role in determining anthropogenic uses. The properties of texture and porosity will be investigated using hands-on and minds-on activities. In this activity, soil textures of different soil types will be classified. The soil texture ratios of soil samples will be determined and the porosity of each sample will be determined. Students will then compare the porosity to soil texture.
Soil Interactions
Author Christa Leopold, Maumee High School, Maumee OH
Subject/ Course Science
Grade(s) 8
Unit Topic(s) or Theme(s) Properties of Soils (lithosphere), Water Cycle (hydrosphere), and biosphere
Description This activity can be used as an introduction into the eighth grade year. Students will draw on prior knowledge of the lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere from seventh grade content. Students will be able to identify how the lithosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere are connected using inquiry to discovery these connections. Soil will be used as a tool to convey this idea. First students will collaboratively brainstorm measureable variables/characteristics within soil, such as color, texture, permeability, and acidity. Students will propose tests, and once approved, set about testing their ideas and observing the soil variables. Students will uses these tests to identify soils as part of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Students will then compare and contrast soil from their backyard and each other’s backyard soils.
Hey, I'm a Fungi!
Author Christina Florence, Central Catholic High School, Toledo OH
Subject/ Course Biology/Environmental Science
Grade(s) 7-12
Unit Topic(s) or Theme(s) Biology of fungi
Description In this project, students will work together to create a wiki about a specific group of fungus. They will be divided into 4-5 groups of 3-4 students apiece (this is dependent upon the class size and teacher directions). After students learn the general characteristics about the Fungi Kingdom, each group will research a different phylum of fungus to produce a wiki. This wiki will contain information needed to understand the characteristics about each phylum. The students will be responsible for the information about each phyla of Fungi to present to other students.