Choose Your Extreme Ecosystem

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SWBAT Research the animals and plants that exist in an extreme ecosystem and identify the adaptations they have developed that allow them to thrive in that ecosystem

Big Idea

Before students can redesign humanity, they must gather information about the life that exists in their chosen extreme ecosystem.


5 minutes

Because it has been several days since discussing the unit project, I begin by having students take out their copy of the End of Humanity Student Directions and the End of Humanity Student Checklist (have extra copies ready, I don't know how each student has a black hole in their locker but alas...).

I have students update their checklist by checking off all of the kick-off boxes along with the first box under check-in 1.  I have students circle the next 4 main points on the checklist (up to and including create works cited) as those are what will have accomplished by the end of this lesson.


90 minutes

I have students work in groups (already chosen during the introduction lesson) to research the extreme ecosystem from the options provided in the directions (desert, arctic, deep ocean, or space). Students will:

  1. Research the most extreme version of that ecosystem to determine environmental conditions (what would it be like to live there?).
  2. Research the animals and plants that exist there and identify the adaptations they have developed that allow them to thrive in that ecosystem (look into external and internal features).

Students are able to organize their research in a way that makes sense to them (most students create either a shared Google doc or Google presentation.  Groups typically choose one of the following methods of dividing the work:

  • ecosystem, external features, internal features
  • ecosystem, animal examples (external and internal features), plant examples (external and internal features)

As students conduct their research they should keep track of the websites they pull information from as they will need to create a list of works cited.

I remind students that the ultimate goal of this research is to determine what adaptations humans must have to survive in that ecosystem on a permanant basis.  Students should document their ideas for this as they conduct their research. Ocean Ecosystem Research - Student Example shows how one group organized their information.

This video explains another group's brainstorming for the redesign.

This video has some students explaining their vision for a deep ocean dwelling redesigned human.  I like this example as it shows how much thinking and research went into their plan.


5 minutes

Whenever we do research projects, I work to support the ELA department by requiring students to create a works cited page.  The literacy department uses Easybib to create their works cited and has created the document How to Make a Works Cited for the students to follow.

To conclude this lesson I have students create their works cited page for this project.