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Welcome to our resource bank. Here you will find lessons inspired by our experiences of the Galápagos ecosystem. Lessons in the bank were designed for students in grades 9-12, but could be adapted for other ages. Our resources cover topics in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, Earth Science, and Mathematics. Lessons are free to use - we simply ask that you credit us for our work and leave headers, footers, and graphics intact on the documents if you choose to make a copy and edit them!
We suggest starting your exploration of each resource with the Educator Guide. It will provide an overview of the lesson, as well as teaching tips and other helpful information.
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Subjects: Chemistry, Physical Science, Biology, or Earth Science
Overview: Mangrove trees in the Galápagos islands possess a unique evolutionary ability - they can survive and thrive in saltwater environments due to cellular processes that expel salts and leave pure water behind. Mangroves also play an important role in ecosystems as a significant carbon sink. In this activity, students will learn about the unique features of mangroves, and will use mangroves as a phenomenon to learn about concepts such as osmosis, climate change, and natural selection.
Keywords: Osmosis, Evolution/Natural Selection, Adaptations, Ecosystem Interactions, Climate Change, Osmoregulation
Standards: NGSS - HS-LS4-4, HS-ESS2-6, HS-ESS2-2
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #12.
Microplastics in the Galápagos
Subjects: Chemistry, Marine Biology, Environmental Science
Overview: These series of lessons will explore the chemical composition of plastic and how plastic pollution affects marine animals in the Galápagos. Students will play a game, create concept maps, participate in a chemical property activity, and will be introduced to reading peer-reviewed articles. Students will investigate how plastics become microplastics and how the effects of this pollution are even seen in the biodiverse Galápagos archipelago.
Keywords: Plastic, microplastics, physical/biological/chemical weathering, molecular structure, physical properties, decomposition, chemical change, technology.
Standards: NGSS - HS-PS2-6, HS-ESS3-4, ELA - RST.11-12.1, RST.11-12.8
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #13.
Subjects: Biology, Environmental Science
Overview: This task helps students answer the key questions - “How did plants get to the Galápagos? How did they spread once there? In addition, students will explore how seed structure relates to function and how humans are impacting seed dispersal in the Galápagos.
Keywords: Dispersal, seed, natural selection, adaptation, structure/function
Standards: NGSS - HS-LS4-5, HS-LS2-2., HS-LS2-7
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #14.
snail Exponential growth
Subjects: Algebra 1, Biology
Overview: This lesson plan outlines a game that models invasion trends in island ecosystems. Students will work in pairs to control the population of invasive African snails on the Santa Cruz Island of the Galápagos archipelago. They will take on the role of biologists and ecologists on the island in this effort to control this invasive species. They will use exponential functions to model the growth rate of the snail population -- exploring the different key features of functions and how they change over time.
Keywords: Growth Rate, Constant rate of change, Constant multiplier, Linear function, Non-linear function, Exponential function
Standards: Common Core - Interpret the structure of expressions, Create equations that describe numbers or relationships, Interpreting Functions, Construct and compare linear and exponential models and solve problems, Interpret expressions for functions in terms of the situation they model.
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #15.
Subjects: Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Trigonometry, Elective Math
Overview: In the Galapagos Islands, it is possible to snorkel in channels with white-tipped reef sharks swimming/resting just a few feet below you! This activity introduces students to tide charts and asks students to determine when it would be possible to safely go snorkeling in the shark channel on a given day. In doing so, students will be introduced to periodic phenomena and have the opportunity to identify and interpret key features of sinusoidal graphs.
Keywords: tide charts, high tide, low tide, maxima, minima, domain, range, increasing and decreasing intervals, intercepts, period and amplitude
Standards: Interpret Functions that arise in applications in terms of their context, (CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.IF.B.4) Model periodic phenomena with trigonometric functions (CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.TF.B.5)
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #16.
Subjects: Biology, Earth Science
Overview: This activity explores the evolutionary history of Galápagos iguanas and asks students to use multiple lines of interdisciplinary evidence to explain the speciation of the iguanas. In doing so, students will engage in the scientific practice of revising explanations as new evidence arises, as well as engaging with earth science topics related to island formation and tectonic plates.
Keywords: Evolution, Speciation, Hotspots and Island Formation, Plate Tectonics, Constructing and revising explanations from evidence, Developing models
Standards: NGSS - HS-LS4-1, HS-LS4-5, HS-ESS2-1
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #1.
Citizen Science in the Galápagos
Subjects: Environmental Science, Biology
Overview: This video is intended as an introduction and discussion point for young scientists about the impact citizen science can have on local communities, as well as the role young scientists play in conversation.
Keywords: Environmental conservation, Environmental stewardship, Student advocacy, Endangered species, Citizen Science
Standards: NGSS - HS-LS2-7. AP Environmental Science - Unit 5 (Land and Water Use), Unit 9 (Global Change).
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #2.
Subjects: Algebra 1, Biology, Environmental Science
Overview: This task introduces students to methods used by local scientists in the Galápagos Islands for estimating populations of species.
Key Concepts: Population Estimation, Conservation Biology, Capture/Recapture, Quadrats, Citizen/Local Science, Mathematical Modeling/Comparing Models, Climate Change
Standards: NGSS - HS-LS2-2. Common Core - MP2, MP3, MP4.
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #3.
Climate change and galápagos organisms
Subjects: Biology, Environmental Science
Overview: In this lesson, students will analyze data on how climate change is affecting the different iconic organisms of the Galápagos Islands. Then, they make a claim about their findings and support it with evidence and reasoning.
Key Concepts: Climate change, El Niño, Population sizes, Abiotic factors, Analyzing data, Argumentation
Standards: NGSS - HS-LS2-6, HS-LS4-5.
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #4.
Using Corals to Determine Past Sea Temperatures
Subjects: Physics, Environmental Science
Overview: This lesson asks students to apply an understanding of the relationship between temperature and the kinetic energy of particles and heat transfer. It also introduces students to the effects of climate change on corals.
Key Concepts: Energy, Temperature, Heat Transfer, Radiative Forcing, Corals, Climate Change, Observational Studies
Standards: NGSS - HS-PS3-2, HS-PS3-4.
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #5.
Impact of Invasive species
Subjects: Biology, Environmental Science
Overview: This series of lessons will focus on the concept of introduced and invasive species and their impacts on ecosystems. This activity also serves as an introduction to common characteristics of invasives.
Key Concepts: Endemic, introduced, and invasive species, Competition, Competitive exclusion principle, Niches, Generalist and specialist species, Keystone species, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Standards: NGSS - HS-LS2-6, HS-LS2-7
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #6.
Ocean Currents and Climate Change
Subjects: Earth Science, Marine Science, Environmental Science
Overview: This unit will explore ocean currents and how they affect other phenomena and living organisms. After learning about ocean current mechanisms, students will consider the ways climate change is affecting the unique ecology and environment of the Galápagos Islands.
Key Concepts: Current, Coriolis Effect, El Niño, Ocean acidification, Rain shadow, Temperature, Thermohaline circulation, Upwelling
Standards: NGSS - HS-LS2-6, HS-ESS2-4, HS-ESS2-7, HS-ESS3-6
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #7.
Natural selection game
Overview: Students will use organisms from the Galápagos Islands to engage in a learning game that mimics the process of Natural Selection. All students will then predict how the population will continue to change in the future.
Key Concepts: Evolution, Natural Selection, Variation, Inheritance/Heredity, Overproduction, Competition, Survival of the Fittest
Standards: NGSS - HS-LS4-2, HS-ESS2-7
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #8.
Subjects: Earth Science, Geology, Environmental Science, Biology
Overview: This activity explores island formation for different types of islands, as well as the hazards that exist to humans living on islands. Students develop their classification, modeling, and scientific explanation skills in this 5E lesson developed for high school learners.
Key Concepts: Volcanic island, depositional island, atoll, hotspot, oceanic rift, island arc, tectonic lift
Standards: NGSS - HS-ESS2-1, HS.ESS3-1. AP Environmental Science - APES.ERT-4.A.1, APES.ERT.4.A.4.
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #9.
Subjects: Geometry, Calculus, Environmental Science
Overview: This task introduces students to methods used by citizen student scientists in the Galápagos Islands for tracking beach erosion in order to protect habitats for nesting turtles. Students will create an erosion profile for a local stream or beach to measure the shape of the stream or beach, the slope of the bank, and track the effects of erosion over time if this project is repeated yearly. Along the way, students will discuss the effects erosion has on ecosystems and the impact citizen scientists can have within their communities.
Key Concepts: Erosion, Conservation, Beach Profile, Citizen/Local Science, Cross-Sectional Area, Irregular Area, Flow Rate, Mathematical Modeling
Standards: Common Core - MP1, MP4, MP5. Common Core State Standards - G.GPE.7, G.GMD.4, G.MG.2, G.MG.3. NGSS - HS-LS2-2.
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #10.
Coral Reef Resilience in the Galápagos
Subjects: Chemistry, Environmental Science, Earth Science, Biology
Overview: The Galápagos Islands are a glimpse into the future in terms of how ocean acidification could affect the resiliency of corals after a coral bleaching event. A coral bleaching event in 1982-1983 bleached 95% of the Galápagos corals. This activity explores the resilience or lack of resilience that coral reefs can have when facing ocean acidification events. This activity leverages cooperative learning in which students analyze data, become experts, and jigsaw their learning with each other.
Key Concepts: Ocean acidification, El Niño, pH, upwelling, coral bleaching, resiliency, bioerosion
Standards: NGSS - HS-PS1-5, HS-PS1-6, HS-ESS2-4, HS-ESS3-5, HS-ESS3-6, HS-LS4-5, HS-LS2-6.
To Get Materials: Click on link at top of page, then go to folder #11.