Unit Plan: The Local State Park

Posted by on Aug 12, 2003 in Science | No Comments
Unit Plan: The Local State Park

In this high school science lesson, students learn about the ecosystem of a local park. By studying the interrelationships among organisms living within the park, students gain an understanding of the complexity of the ecosystem.

Because the park is also used by people, students will examine how human activities affect the organisms. With this in mind, they will look at how land-use policies are created and what it means to balance the needs of the organisms with the needs of people wanting to use the park.

Unit(s) of Study

Ecosystems, Land-Use and Public Policy

  • Previous Unit(s): Ecosystems, Biomes, Five Kingdoms
  • Follow-up Unit(s): Adaptation, Population Genetics, Evolution

Standards, Pennsylvania State

Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology

  • 4.6. Ecosystems and their Interactions
    • 4.6.12. GRADE 12
      • A. Analyze the interdependence of an ecosystem.
        • Analyze the relationships among components of an ecosystem.
        • Analyze the positive or negative impacts of outside influences on an ecosystem.
        • Analyze how different land use practices can affect the quality of soils.
      • C. Analyze how human action and natural changes affect the balance within an ecosystem.
        • Analyze effects of human action on an ecosystem.

Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening

  • 1.4. Types of Writing
    • 1.4.11. GRADE 11
      • C. Write persuasive pieces.
        • Include a clearly stated position or opinion.
        • Include convincing, elaborated and properly cited evidence.
        • Develop reader interest.
        • Anticipate and counter reader concerns and arguments.
        • Include a variety of methods to advance the argument or position.

Essential Questions

  • What is species diversity?
  • How are species interrelated?
  • How do humans affect/interact with other species and the environment?
  • How are public lands utilized?
  • How does public land use affect the local ecosystems?
  • How should public lands be used?
  • How can you affect public policy?

Assessment Strategies

  • Preassessment:  K-N-W-L Sheet and general observation
  • Formative:  Notebook records and observations and class discussions
  • Summative:  Presentations using appropriate rubric

Materials and Resources Needed

  • See lessons plans that follow

Map of the Unit

  • Lesson 1—The Local Forest (1 day)
  • Lesson 2—Interdependence Between and Among Plants And Animals (1 day)
  • Lesson 3—Land Use in a Public Park (1 day)
  • Lesson 4—Ecology of the Park (2 days to 1 week)
  • Lesson 5—Presentation of a Position on the Use of Public Lands (1 week to prepare presentations, as much time as needed to present)

Lesson 1—The Local Forest


  • Become familiar with the park through observation, reflection and discussion.
  • Prepare for later activities in this unit, which will require more focused observation.

Activity—Observe the forest

  • Walk through Ridley Creek State Park, observing the forest, the river, the plants, the animals and the human impact.
  • K-W-L-H Record Sheet:  record the following before, during and after the walk.
    • What I know about the forest and its surroundings
    • What I want to know about the forest and its surroundings
    • What I learned (observed) about the forest and its surroundings
    • How I will learn what I want to know about the forest and its surroundings.
    • Students share their findings and observations with the class.


  • Laboratory notebooks
  • K-W-L-H Record Sheet


  • K-W-L-H Sheet
  • Notebook observations


Photo: Some rights reserved by dbaron

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