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.

Worms, Water, and People on the Schoolyard

1 class period

Students will learn how different elements of the schoolyard ecosystem are linked, how scientists compile data and search for patterns and relationships, and how these relationships can be described.


  1. Explain the assignment to the students, using the student sheet as a guide. The students will need their bar graphs from the previous assignment. You may wish to do the first drawing as a class, and let them do the second two drawings on their own.
  2. Have the students complete the second part of the assignment, creating a “scientific story” based on their drawings. This is synonymous to scientists compiling data and drawing conclusions based on patters they see in that data. The goal here is to enable the students to recognize and describe patterns in their data when comparing the variables of worms, percolation, humans, and land use type.

Closure: Have the students compare their stories with each other. For closure, discuss the assignment as a class and see what the students had in common regarding links between humans, land use, worms, and percolation on the schoolyard. Allow the discussion to lead your class to a group conclusion regarding the experiments.


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

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