Natural Resources and Ecosystems

This page was developed as part of the NASA-funded Sustainable Trainer Engagement Program by LPI
  Return to Earth & Space Science Classroom Activities and Resources


7(8) Earth and space. The student knows that natural events and human activity can impact Earth systems. The student is expected to:

  • (A) predict and describe how different types of catastrophic events impact ecosystems such as floods, hurricanes, or tornadoes;
  • (B) analyze the effects of weathering, erosion, and deposition on the environment in ecoregions of Texas; and
  • (C) model the effects of human activity on groundwater and surface water in a watershed.


The environment in ecoregions of Texas and catastrophic events
  • Eco-Proposal Activity
    This is a draft of a new activity created by LPI with input from STEP members.  Just like companies, teams of students will propose a Texas site for a future green project, and support why it should be chosen over the other teams’ proposals. Students will analyze and compare the effects of weathering, erosion, and deposition on the environment in the eco-regions of Texas, and work together to plan a project that utilizes the environmental resources and prepares for potential catastrophic events of a particular eco-region.
  • Catastrophic Events Concept Map
    Invite your students to create a concept map, organizing key words (hurricane, tornado, flood, wetlands, beaches, cities, economy, and a variety of terms that might reflect wildlife and vegetation) around a central idea and then adding explanations and processes to define the connections between the words.  Hold a gallery walk after they are all finished, to allow them to visit and add positive comments to each others’ ideas. 
Watersheds and human impact activities
  • Connecting Classrooms and Communities through Watersheds:
    This unit includes four 50-minute classes and a service-learning project all focusing on watersheds.
  • Pollution through Watersheds:
    Students model how non-point source pollutants can travel through a watershed.
  • Impervious vs Pervious Surfaces:
    Students model how different land uses in a watershed can affect surface runoff.
  • “Who Dirtied the Water?,” Museum of Science and Industry
    Children are read the story of an imaginary place, where the activities of wildlife and people influence the area’s lake. At a key point in the story, each child adds a “pollutant” to the “lake” — usually eliciting an “ewwww!” from the audience! An aquarium or other large container is used to simulate the lake, and common materials like paper, vinegar, and molasses represent the pollutants. The story is used to start a conversation about pollution in our lakes, rivers, oceans, and groundwater. Appropriate for ages 8–13.
  • Cleaning Water
    A NASA educational activity building a water filtration system to clean the dirty water.
  • Low-tech Water Filter for High-impact Clean
    Students consider the water features they might enjoy at a community park and what happens to the water over time. In this engineering design activity, working in small groups, they explore and test common materials to identify the best low-tech materials that can be used to help filter water.


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