How Pollution Affects Ecosystems and the Global Climate
The main theme of our lesson is how pollution affects ecosystems and the global climate. We aim to teach 4th and 5th grade students about erosion in order for them to gain awareness about the anthropogenic (human-induced) impacts on the environment and global climate change as well as to generate ideas on how they can reduce their own ecological footprints. We feel this is important because the lesson not only educates students, but also motivates them to take action.
This lesson will cover many of the Colorado State Academic Standards, not only science-related (Physical and Life Sciences, Science as an Inquiry, and Science in Personal and Social Perspectives), but also those pertaining to geography (Human Systems and Environment and Society) and language arts (Communication Skills and Strategies and Applying Language Skills). There are four essential components to the lesson. The first will serve as a formative assessment of students’ knowledge of pollution by playing a game which asks “have you ever” questions (for example, “have you ever heard of global warming?”). This activity is significant in our lesson because it is a hook to get students thinking about the ways they already help and hurt the environment. The next part will introduce students to the concept of an ecosystem, a fundamental unit of the biosphere. We will present the students with a fish inside of a bowl of water and ask whether or not they think this is an ecosystem. We will then add various other living and non-living components and ask the students each time. Afterwards, we will explain the concept of an ecosystem in further detail. The next activity comprises the bulk of the lesson and asks students (split into four groups) to draw the ideal town on a large piece of paper with a habitat on it (containing a mountainous area, a small stream, and a larger river). The town’s natural resources must provide a source of food, shelter, and energy. Once the students have finished their town creations, we will hang them and have students explain them. Next, we will hand out greenhouse gas explanation sheets and go over some of the basic types of emissions, and discuss which ones might be produced by each town. This segment of our lesson is particularly important because it gets students thinking about how the actions of their local communities can have a big impact on the environment. In our last lesson component we will show students pictures of different ecosystems and have them decide whether these sources contribute to pollution, and if so, how they can be reduced. This will serve as both a summative assessment of students’ knowledge and a call to action to help protect the local environment.
The strand tying all of our lessons together is global climate change. Climate describes the average weather over a long period of time in a...