Middle School Lesson Plans: Environmental Resources

Middle School Lesson Plans: Environmental Resources

These resources are appropriate for grade levels 6th, 7th and 8th.
Lesson Plans:


  1. Alien Invasions: Examining Invasive Plant Species in Your Community

    In this lesson, students create an educational pamphlet on the origins, spread and impact of invasive plant species in their community.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  2. Chilling Predictions: Exploring the Economic, Political and Environmental Issues That Global Warming Has Created for the Arctic

    In this lesson, students will research and prepare an almanac on the Arctic. They then examine the laws that attempt to provide jurisdiction over this area and consider how these laws will be affected if geography of the Arctic continues to change due to the effects of global warming.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  3. Clearing the Air: Exploring Emissions and Substances that Influence Global Climate Change

    In this lesson, students investigate a variety of emissions that contribute to global warming. As presenters at a mock international summit, students prepare recommendations for reversing the global warming trend.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  4. Concerns Caused by Conflict in Colombia

    The instability caused by Colombia's bloody civil war and violent drug trade has long served to limit foreign investment in the country. But Colombia's extensive oil reserves have attracted interest within the United States as it moves to further diversify its sources of oil imports. Tapping Colombian oil, however, has come at a hefty price both for civilians and for the environment. Colombia is one of many conflicted regions across the globe that shows the shaky balance between multinational investing interests and the potential for those interests to exacerbate existing internal conflicts. Frequent rebel attacks on the oil pipeline cause oil to spill into water wells and other water sources, forcing many of Colombia's poor to leave their homes for lack of clean water. Some estimates place the volume of crude oil that has spilled into Colombia's rivers and ranges over the past 15 years at 2.5 million barrels -- a total volume 10 times greater than that of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

    Explain to students that they are going to propose some strategies for reducing the negative impact of oil development on the people of Colombia and the environment.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 3-5 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit Frontline.



  5. Coral Bleaching: Making Our Oceans Whiter

    Coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef are some of the most productive and important ecosystems on earth, and they are vanishing at an alarming rate. Students will learn what coral reefs are and about the different types of reefs, the ecology surrounding these biological playgrounds, and the human impact on them. Additionally, this lesson will provide an opportunity for students to debate whether human contact should be impeded around coral reefs, a constructive approach for defending controversial environmental issues.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit National Geographic.



  6. Devil May Care? Examining Diseases that Affect the Animal Kingdom

    In this lesson, students learn about a deadly disease decimating the Tasmanian devil population. They then research diseases that affect animals and write a fictional story about the animals they researched.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  7. Damage Control: Exploring Flood Prevention Around the World

    In this lesson, students investigate artificially elevated regions or cities around the world to compare histories, cultures, and strategies related to potential flooding disaster.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  8. Feeling Vulnerable: Examining the Connection Between Global Poverty and Natural Disasters


    In this lesson, students learn about some of the ways the developing world is vulnerable to the impact and effects of natural disasters. They then investigate some "natural disaster hotspots" around the globe and assess how vulnerable these areas are.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 2-3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  9. GIS: Helping to Save the African Wild

    There are approximately 6 billion people on our planet, and that number is growing! Population growth not only affects humans, it threatens plants and animals that rely on the same resources as humans (food, land and water). In this lesson, students will learn about a geographic tool known as GIS, and about how it is assisting the conservation efforts of ecologically minded individuals such as Dr. Michael Fay and the environmentalists at the Wildlife Conservation Society. Students will use resources such as the National Geographic magazine feature Africa MegaFlyover to find out more about how GIS is used.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit National Geographic.



  10. Gorillas in the Midst: Exploring the Preservation Efforts of the Mountain Gorilla Project Eco-Tour in Rwanda

    In this lesson, students consider the idea of the "eco-tour" and examine different aspects of the Mountain Gorilla Project eco-tour in Rwanda. They then synthesize their understanding by acting as expert panelists on a morning news show that focuses on the project, as well as by designing a promotional brochure for the project.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  11. Ice Breakers: A Lab Experience About the Effects of Global Warming on Icecaps

    Through participating in a number of in-class experiments using ice, students understand the effects of global warming on icecaps and the worldwide consequences that may result.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  12. Ice, Ice, Baby: Examining the Causes and Effects of Melting Ice Formations in Antarctica

    In this lesson, students learn about the causes and effects of the melting ice formations in Antarctica; they then research different aspects of the topic in order to create a news special.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  13. Invasive Species

    Human beings have often moved different species from their original habitats to new locations in order to meet some human need. When this happens, the environment is altered, but not always in the manner intended. While some people support human manipulation of the habitats of various species, others argue that it may not be worth the potential risks.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit National Geographic.



  14. Keep Off the Reef! Examining the Endangerment of Coral Reefs as a Byproduct of Global Warming

    In this lesson, students conduct research to prepare proposals for an aquarium exhibit that highlights the significance of coral reefs. Students will focus their study on global warming and its impact on coral reefs around the world.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  15. On the Attack: Exploring How Government Restrictions, Overfishing and Ecosystem Changes Affected Shark Behavior in Summer 2001

    In this lesson, students explore how government restrictions and overfishing impact the ecosystems of sharks and contribute to or curb their danger to humans. Students then synthesize their understanding of the issues by working in groups to develop board games and by assessing games created by other groups.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  16. Preserving Paradise: Locating Endangered Ecosystems Around the World

    In this lesson, students investigate artificially elevated regions or cities around the world to compare histories, cultures, and strategies related to potential flooding disaster.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  17. Postcards from the Edge: Endangered Species




    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a bureau within the Department of the Interior whose mission is to work with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants, and their habitats. The bureau manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System with more than 520 individual refuges, thousands of wetlands and special management areas. Among its key functions is the protection of endangered species.

    In this lesson, students will learn about endangered species in the United States, some of the reasons they are endangered (e.g. habitat destruction or the introduction of invasive species), and what is being done to protect them. Students will choose one species to focus on and examine the reasons it is endangered, and why it is important to make an effort to save it.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit National Geographic.



  18. Protecting Holy Cows: The Effects of Pollution, Industrialization, and Other Human Activities on the World's Biomes

    In this lesson, students reflect on and research how humans affect animal life, plant life, and environmental conditions of specific biomes, particularly due to pollution and industrialization.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  19. Research and Conservation: Doing the Legwork

    In this lesson, students learn about the ways in which geographical studies can be put to practical use, such as in helping to preserve the rain forest. Students will think about the importance of counting and studying all the species in an ecosystem, such as the Congo River Basin. Students will learn about biogeographical barriers, biodiversity and conservation.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 3-4 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit National Geographic.



  20. Seeing the Forests for the Trees: Exploring Tropical Forests as Natural Resources

    In this lesson, students explore changing logging practices in the Congo Republic and research the many roles of tropical forests as a natural resource. To synthesize their understanding, students write letters to loggers in Africa, urging them to adopt responsible logging practices.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  21. Seeing the Human Impact on Africa: What Can You Learn From a Plane?


    After visiting the National Geographic magazine feature Africa MegaFlyover and reading the National Geographic News article about Michael Fay, Africa Explorer Takes Off on Yearlong Aerial Survey, students will analyze several maps of Africa to see where the greatest levels of human impact can be observed. They will look at photographs from different parts of Africa showing both its human and natural landscapes, and will consider what these images might look like from the air. Students will conclude by writing letters pretending they are traveling on the MegaFlyover project and predicting the human impacts they will observe.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 2-3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit National Geographic.



  22. See You Later, Alligator: Learning About Animals as Cultural Symbols Around the World

    In this lesson, students explore the historical and social significance of animals as cultural symbols in various countries around the world, as well as the impact that humans have made on the population and natural habitats of these animals.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  23. Sound the Alarm: Can Frogs Really Tell Us What's Wrong?

    Have you ever watched a tadpole morph into a frog? National Geographic Emerging Explorer Tyrone Hayes says that, as a child, watching this animal—an animal that is really two animals—led him to his career in biology and herpetology. He didn't know it at the time, but watching tadpoles metamorphose into frogs may help us find causes of—and maybe even cures for—cancer. In this lesson, students will learn about the ways Hayes uses a combination of laboratory and field study to learn about frogs' developmental changes as they relate to chemical contamination of water. Students will investigate two areas where this research is sounding some alarms both for caution and for more research.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 2-3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit National Geographic.



  24. Tending to the Greenhouse: Examining Causes, Effects, and Solutions for Global Warming

    In this lesson, students investigate global warming through initial discussion of recent findings of an 11-day lengthening of the growing season caused by warmer temperatures. Students then work in small groups, acting as 'organizations' concerned with the trends in global warming, to research and propose solutions for restricting greenhouse gases.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  25. The Ocean and Weather: El Niño and La Niña

    In this lesson, students will explore the weather phenomena El Niño and La Niña. They will learn about when and where these weather changes occur, and about the effects they have on everything in their wake.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit National Geographic.



  26. Tour du Jour? Projecting the Impact of Increasing Global Temperatures on the Tourist Economy

    In this lesson, students learn how warmer temperatures have impacted ice drift tourism on the northern coast of Hokkaido, Japan. They then consider the ways a continued warming trend might impact other global tourist destinations in the future.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 1-2 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit New York Times.



  27. Who Pays the Price When a Sea Disappears?

    This lesson asks students to learn about the problems in the Aral Sea region and to discover how the sea's water loss is affecting specific groups of people, such as children and fishermen. They will work in groups to prepare statements that these people might make, and will present their statements to a mock United Nations panel.

    Time needed for lesson plan: 3 hours

    To link to the actual lesson plan, please visit National Geographic.










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