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Monday Morning Ready04.07.2017
Jumpstart Your Week!

Even if you have never been to a modern African safari camp, you probably know what one looks like. Most are built on wooden platforms with the skeletal outline of a gabled roof. They generally have a white canvas ceiling and walls. In addition, there is mosquito netting and simple, wooden furniture. And, spacious views of wild landscapes that are one pull of a curtain away from your bed.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

If you could see anything in the world as it was 5,000 years ago, what would you want to see? Where would you want to go? Why?

Grade 5-6

Do you think people's attempts to intensively manage land have helped or hurt wildlife populations around the world? Why?

Grade 7-8

According to the article, people in Europe are breeding back cattle to re-create aurochs, an extinct breed of large bovids. Do you think this experiment is a step in the right direction? Or, do you see it as another way to intensively manage wildlife populations?

Grade 9-10

How do you think the world would change if people took more time to sit back and appreciate nature?

LESSON PLAN
Create an Ecotourism Plan

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, brainstorm a definition for the word ecotourism. Then invite a volunteer to look up and read aloud the definitions of conserve (to protect something from harm) and preserve (to make sure something lasts). Discuss how each of these actions is connected to ecotourism.
  2. Point out that people's actions have changed landscapes all over the world. And as the land has changed, so have the ecosystems found there. Some species have thrived. But others have become endangered or extinct.
  3. Have students identify an area that is classified as highly threatened. Instruct them to conduct research to learn more about it. What is the area like now? What was it like before people changed it?
  4. Give students time to create an ecotourism plan for the area. 

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to present their plans to the class. Challenge them to explain how their plan could both conserve and preserve the species that live there.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:     

Grades 3-4:
As a class, select one threatened ecosystem. If possible, identify a threatened ecosystem close to where you live.  Have students conduct research to learn what the area used to be like and what it's like today. Find out what caused it to change. Give students time to draw before and after pictures of the ecosystem. Then brainstorm ideas about how people visiting the area should behave to show respect for the land. Create a list of guidelines for visitors to follow.

Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Have each group select one threatened ecosystem. Review the selections to ensure that there are no repeats. Have groups conduct research to learn what the area used to be like, what it's like today and what caused it to change. Challenge them to identify area plant and animal species that have become endangered or extinct. Then instruct groups to create a list of behavioral guidelines for visitors to the area to follow. Have each group create a brochure about the guidelines that could be handed out to area visitors.

Grades 7-8: 
Divide the class into pairs. Have partners select one threatened ecosystem. Review the selections to ensure that there are no repeats. Have students conduct research to learn what the area used to be like, what it's like today and what caused it to change. Challenge them to identify area plant and animal species that have become endangered or extinct. Then have partners brainstorm ideas for an ecotourism operation in the area. Tell them to outline the operation's boundaries on a map and draw a picture of a tent visitors could stay in. Finally, have partners write a journal, from a guest's perspective, describing what it was like to spend three days at the ecotourism camp.

Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into pairs. Have partners select one threatened ecosystem. Review the selections to ensure that there are no repeats. Have students conduct research to learn what the area used to be like, what it's like today and what caused it to change. Instruct them to compile a list of area plant and animal species that have become endangered or extinct. Then have partners brainstorm ideas for an ecotourism operation in the area. Tell them to outline the operation's boundaries on a map. Instruct partners to then create an ad campaign that would attract tourists to the area.

SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
Highlights Collection: Bird and Insect Habitat Videos
This collection from the Smithsonian Learning Lab features videos of birds and insects in their natural habitats. It can be used to complement lessons surrounding Earth Day, national parks, habitats and more.

Ecosystems on the Edge
This website from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center features videos, information and related links on threats to coastal ecosystems. Topics covered include climate change, at-risk species and watersheds. It also explores what students and adults can do to help restore these ecosystems.

Video: Why Should Humans Care About Preserving the Diversity of Life on Earth?
Share this animation, provided by Smithsonian magazine, with students to explain that humans don’t just impact the interconnected web of life—we depend on it.

Designing a Real Life Ecosystem
This lesson, created for high school students by the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, examines ecosystems and the niche organisms that play within them. Students will research the niche, habitat, competitors and other means of survival for a chosen animal. Then, using a 20-gallon aquarium, they will build a model ecosystem for their animal and track its progress for one week.

Humans Caused a Major Shift in Earth’s Ecosystems 6,000 Year Ago
Read this Smithsonian article to learn how people upended a pattern held for 300 million years, and why that may mean we are causing a new phase in global evolution.

On the Web: Measuring Biodiversity Across North America
This lesson plan, created for high school students by the National Museum of Natural History, uses interactive mapping technology to bring biodiversity field data to the classroom. The lesson includes a map tutor, sampling tutor and tables.

BIOMIMICRY, Mushrooms Can Save the World
In these teacher-created lessons from the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, students consider solutions to environmental problems based on the role of fungi in ecosystems.
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