Schoolyard Ecology

Thinking about the flow of matter and energy with students is one of the key ways of exploring ecosystems. In these lessons, students construct their own understanding of ecosystems through investigations in their schoolyard, developing ideas about ecological processes and functions.

An Analysis of a Schoolyard

2 class periods

Scientists draw conclusions based on data collected. Conclusions made by scientists are often used to support a recommendation to engage in a specific action. Living and nonliving elements of a schoolyard affect each other. Questions arise out of scientific experiments that lead to other experiments.


  1. Have the class complete question 1 on the student sheet. 
  2. Display for the class the composite results of the Land Cover Types. Have the students compare these with their predictions, and to complete the Land Cover Type table. Ask them what it means to scientists if their hypothesis is right or wrong. Finally, display the composite class hypothesis and compare results.  
  3. Have students complete the remainder of the worksheet.  Feel free to discuss with the students their answers to question 7. Based on the information gathered, what are some of the things they might like to change about their school yard? Why? How might they go about making some of those changes.  You may wish to use this as a springboard from which the students might draft a letter to the school’s site council, or make a presentation at a PTA meeting discussing some of their results and related suggestions.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

Privacy Policy Copyright © 201