Resources and Human Impact: Grades 9-12


SciGuides are a collection of thematically aligned lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources for teachers to use with their students centered on standards-aligned science concepts.

Human modifications to communities of living organisms in an ecosystem can change the function and processes of that system. The flow of energy through an ecosystem depends upon the diversity of organisms within it; therefore, when this flow is altered, substantial biological and geological changes occur. It is important that our students not only realize that when a local ecosystem is destroyed or negatively affected by human transformations (building, agriculture, technology); the effect is eventually felt globally. We cannot ignore the fact that everything we do impacts our natural environment. The main question is, “How can we be better “keepers of the Earth”?

It is our responsibility to educate our students so that they will become the informed citizens of our future—citizens who are capable of making good decisions based on fact rather than theory. The study of environmental systems should be an integral part of the science curriculum. Doesn’t it make sense to integrate this study with the study of Earth’s biomes, ecosystems, climatic conditions, alternative energy sources, ocean currents, and atmosphere? All of these concepts are intertwined and interactive, and all have a profound impact on our natural environment and our daily lives. Our students will be the driving force in addressing global environmental issues such as renewable energy policy, conservation of wetlands, agricultural restoration, or setting standards for global recycling. Therefore, they must understand that the Earth’s atmosphere, land, oceans, ice and life is a single, connected system, and learn science content that is relevant to their lives. This web guide is designed to help integrate the study of all Earth’s systems with your science curriculum. You will find facts, current research data, lesson plans, investigations, simulations, video clips, and more to help you teach your students about real-world environmental issues.

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Reviews (12)
  • on Thu Sep 03, 2015 11:16 PM

This is a great resource for Biology Teacher. My students really enjoyed the interactive activities. Highly recommended for anyone teaching ecology as a review for the STAAR test.

Jose Gamez  (Laredo, TX)
Jose Gamez (Laredo, TX)

  • on Fri May 04, 2012 1:17 PM

The NSTA SciGuide Resources and Human Impact is an excellent resource to use in a sustainability unit. It gives clear, concise sources for teachers and provides students with the necessary information to learn more about how humans impact our ecosystem. Links were provided that addressed topics such as the environment as a system, environmental degradation, resource use, and impact of technology on human population growth and the environment. Included in the SciGuide are lesson such as Clean Air Technologies, I Am Not Alone: A Look at Population Growth, and How Big Is My Footprint? The lesson with the greatest impact on me was the look at population growth. The exponential growth of the world’s population in the last few decades brings great cause for concern. When I combined this with a lab on Microevolution where my students got to see firsthand the impact of exponential growth the connection they made was powerful. I have and will continue to use this SciGuide in my teaching by incorporating it into the units that deal with environmental concerns, sustainability and organism populations. The lessons and links provided in this Guide allow me to use it in a variety of subject areas – Life Science (organism interactions) and Physical Science (SC.PS.2.1 Explain how scientific advancements and emerging technologies have influenced society) just to name a few. There are many great stand alone assignments, and others mesh nicely with my current curriculum. In general I don’t see much that needs improving in this SciGuide. As always real world links to local happenings (specifically Hawaii) always brings increased interest from my students.

Nancy I  (Pahoa, HI)
Nancy I (Pahoa, HI)

  • on Fri May 04, 2012 4:54 AM

The resource and human impact sci guide gives an idea into the affects of human impact on the environment around us. We use the resources around us and sometimes do not think about the consequences. This is a topic that is especially important to Hawaii because everything we do affects the ecosystem of the islands. This topic can be connected with the nutrient cycle through the ecosystem and also the algal blooms that occur around the islands. The alien algae that affect the coral reef can be topic that students could research. Students could also come up solutions to some of these problems as well. This topic could be increase student engagement and student learning by introducing a topic that connects students to their environment. This makes learning relevant to the student’s lives and they can research ways they can make changes to better the environment. I would recommend this topic to any science teacher that wants to connect their content to the student’s environment.

Sung Yi  (Honolulu, HI)
Sung Yi (Honolulu, HI)

  • on Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:28 AM

This is the science that is most socially relevant. It touches the economy aspect of natural and man-made resources that can become scarse with the rapid use or growth of populations of the consumers. The impact of management and education is highlighted.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:02 PM

1. What are some key points from the SciGuide that made an impression upon you? The Resources and Human Impact: Grades 9-12 SciGuide is a great resource for teachers who want their students to learn more about how humans impact our ecosystem. It provided links for leaning about addressing resource use,the environment as a system, environmental degradation, and impact of technology on human population growth and the environment. Included in the SciGuide are lesson resources called "Where did all the water go?", "I Am Not Alone: A Look at Population Growth," "How Big Is My Footprint?", and "Clean Air Technologies." What really made an impact on me was the lesson on carbon footprinting. I found that this has the biggest connection to the students because they need to figure out their own footprint and how to reduce it. I also liked the clean air technologies lesson because it has them research various ways to reduce pollution. 2. How could you utilize this SciGuide in your teaching? I could use the SciGuide in my teaching because we are focusing on how our community's water ecosystem is affected by human activities like littering and fertilization. In extension, I would have my students research different alternative energies and present their findings to the class and apply it to the real world. 3. What are some suggestions for improvement in the SciGuide? What I would like to see in this SciGuide is maybe a link to how humans impact my community, which is Hawaii, or various local communities.

Michelle A
Michelle A

  • on Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:37 PM

The Resources and Human Impact (9-12) SciGuide is an excellent resource to help you integrate the study of earth systems and current environmental issues into your classes. This SciGuide provides a wealth of teaching resources organized by four themes: 1) Addressing Resource Use, 2) Environment as a System, 3) Environmental Degradation and 4) Impact of Technology on Human Population Growth and the Environment. There is an emphasis on human population growth, carbon footprints, natural resources, human impacts and environmental solutions. Teaching resources include web-based resources, lesson plans, current data, vignettes (case studies), simulations and video clips. Lesson plans are provided with teacher descriptions of implementation and sample student work. Website links are helpfully organized by two categories: teacher sites and student sites and are also searchable by a filter.

Dorothy Ginnett  (Stevens Point, WI)
Dorothy Ginnett (Stevens Point, WI)

  • on Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:39 PM

1. What are some key points from the SciGuide that made an impression upon you? The SciGuide helped me to take into consideration the financial costs of being environmentally conscientious. Alternative energy forms such as solar, wind or water energy are great but are also very costly. I also liked the resources provided to help students understand human impacts and how reducing those impacts would be beneficial. "How Big is Your Footprint" is one of the activities found in the SciGuide that I intend to use with my students to allow them to be aware of their own contributions to the environment. 2. How could you utilize this SciGuide in your teaching?As written above, I will use the activity "How big is your footprint" with my students so that they can see that they make an impact. 3. What are some suggestions for improvement in the SciGuide? I think the organization of the material could be a little better. Its fairly difficult to navigate. Other than that, I think the information and resources provided in the SciGuide are great and absolutely relevant.

Shanae H  (Kaneohe, HI)
Shanae H (Kaneohe, HI)

  • on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:02 PM

Many of the websites in this pack are very useful to help teach students the effects humans have on the ecosystem. I used several different websites to show students how overfishing is detrimental. Many students are not familiar with other types of fish (salmon, trout, etc.) so they were intrigued to see how other states are trying to preserve the aquatic life. Many students commented on how overfishing is a popular theme here in the marine community and appreciated seeing how it can have a domino effect on the ecosystem.

Lynn Y
Lynn Y

  • on Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:07 PM

The Resources and Human Impact (9-12) SciGuide is a great resource to help you integrate the study of population growth and alternative energy in to your curriculum. This SciGuide is organized by four themes  1) Addressing Resource Use, 2) Environment as a System, 3) Environmental Degradation and 4) Impact of Technology on Human Population Growth and the Environment. Addressing Resource Use was a collection of websites that took you through your use of electricity, your carbon footprint and your use of water. The websites contain various activities that are meant to show you how your daily activities impact the environment. The website takes the student through their home to investigate all the things that use electricity. I found that some of the links didn’t take you directly to the information but to the main website where you had to look around a bit to find what you were looking for. Humans in the ecosystem was a collection of websites that explained the different parts of the ecosystem and how human impact affects the environment. The urban ecosystems lesson plan would be a great starting point for your students because it is well designed and comes complete with assessments. Environmental Degradation was a collection of websites that takes you through the depletion of resources. There were lots of resources that emphasized the importance of clean water.  There are also many resources about human waste and how it affects air quality, produces acid rain and increases landfills. Impact of Technology on Human Population growth and the Environment was a collection of websites that talked about the relationship between the human need for alternative energy and its impact on the environment.  The following website which was titled technology and the environment was the best resource in this Sci Guide. The website goes through a list of alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, sea/ tidal, wave, hydro, geothermal, bio fuels and nuclear.  There are also worksheets that can be printed out to use as a formal assessment. The Sci Guide also includes additional flash resources. I liked exponential bacterial growth which was a flash that showed how long it took for a single bacteria cell to grow in a pertri dish.  I found it to be a great way to get students think about limiting factors.  


  • on Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:32 PM

I found the Resource and Human Resource SciGuide to be quite informative about what is happening with our environment right now and how we, as teachers, can prepare our students to take care of the environment in the future. I thought it was informative that this SciGuide talked about how our natural system is so complex and that human dynamics can have major implications that can positively or negatively affect our fragile ecosystem. This SciGuide is great, because it sparked me to remember to teach about all the human and environmental impacts that are happening here, right in our home. It's so easy to focus on teaching globally, that often times, teaching locally is forgotten about. And from there, you can take your teaching and show students how all these small impacts can cause a large impact globally. This SciGuide also provides lots of great resources such as lesson plans, website for teachers and students, up to date data, and videos.

courtney f
courtney f

  • on Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:33 AM

a good overview of different elements of ecology. It covers comprehensively ecosystems and the interrelatedness of biotic and abiotic factors. It got a bit preachy when it got to human influences on the environment.

Kelly  (Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM)
Kelly (Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, NM)

  • on Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:16 AM

This SciGuide has some great ideas. The topics of the lesson plans would be such an eye opener for my students. Unfortunately, so many of the links did not work for me, including the human footprint, how much water do you use, where did all the waer go, and the biosphere lesson. Several weeks ago I saw a lesson here that I would like to do with my students about tracing the source of a pollutant using an imaginary community with a map grid and toxicity measurements. I just looked for it again and could not find it. I think it was called a grave mistake. I am not sure if the problem is with my computer, but if not, I hope they fix the links in this SciGuide, because the lesson plan topics sound very interesting.

Jennifer Perry
Jennifer Perry

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