Insects are the most diverse and numerous group of animals on this planet. With the exception of a very few areas (oceans, Antarctica), insects live everywhere. The complex insect communities found around the world are great examples of the diversity of life and its ability to adapt to a variety of constraints and external pressures. Even within an ecosystem, small “sub-ecosystems” exist which are oftentimes most obvious with careful scrutiny of the area’s six-legged denizens. In addition, the impact of human activity often has a drastic effect on the structure and composition of local insect populations. In this exercise, students will learn to observe the diversity of life around them, attempt to categorize it, and explore the “sub-ecosystems” present in and around the schoolyard, as well as near their homes.
To introduce students to the diversity of life, its role in the structure of ecosystems, and how scientists categorize and classify such diversity. In addition, students will be introduced to different spatial representations of the surrounding area through the use of topographic maps and aerial photographs. Students will be able to practice observational skills and will learn rudimentary insect morphology.
Lesson Plan Format:
This set of materials represents a full unit composed of nested lesson plans. It is expected that the whole unit will take students 3-6 weeks to finish. However, each exploration is broken in to a series of 45 minute lessons that can be conducted alone in a single short class period, or back to back in longer class periods. The expected time required by a series of activities, as well as extension activity recommendations, are listed as notes in the right margin. Example class discussion questions are always listed in italics in the procedure section. The background section at the beginning of each exploration is intended as a resource for teacher preparation, and should not be introduced to students until the appropriate time (usually after a period of exploration or inquiry). A series of worksheets and presentation materials are listed in the procedures and can be found as individual PDFs on this website. Further assessment should focus on evaluating each student’s progress in fulfilling the objectives listed below.