Free textbooks, virtual labs, interactives, and activities for building an ecology unit:
Textbooks: If you want to use a textbook to structure your unit, check out CK-12's Intro to Ecology, with 35 sections covering ecosystems and related topics. Sections include reading, related videos and links, and online practice questions. You can easily create your own "Flexbook" with only the sections you want to cover. The Ecology chapter is part of CK-12's Life Science textbook.
HippoCampus Environmental Science Videos: Information on Earth's atmosphere, water, geology, and ecosystems.
Exploring Planet Earth: Free online course presented in 10 modules covering Earth's systems and resources.
Click the image below for an interactive worksheet on Earth Day:
Here are some links to free resources for explaining and learning about various ecology topics through interactives, labs, assignments and activities.
Levels of Organization: This Glencoe Virtual Lab is an investigation of how competition for natural resources affects population growth. Grow two species of Paramecium, compare growth curves, answer journal questions.
- Energy Flow in Ecosystems: Shows how energy flows through a food chain between producers, consumers and decomposers. Includes a short quiz.
Predators and Prey
- Predator-Prey Simulation: Examine predator and prey interactions, in this case, wolves and deer. Set three parameters for the predator: aggression, birth rate, and dependency upon prey as a food source. Then run a simulation to see how the populations change over time.
Symbiosis and Other Interactions:
This video on symbiosis is part of a TED-Ed lesson that includes questions and additional information.
- Water Cycle: Interactive diagram with a multiple choice quiz.
- Carbon Cycle: Travel the cycle with this interactive game. Click the "For Teachers" link for a related lesson plan and additional resources.
- Carbon Cycle Investigation: A longer simulation activity in which sources of carbon, and human effects on the cycle are identified.
- Nitrogen Cycle: A description of all the cycles are found here, but the one for nitrogen is an interactive diagram. (Click on page 4).
Photosynthesis and Respiration
- Virtual Lab: A simulation investigating the effects of environmental conditions on photosynthesis.
- Interactive Google Doc:
- Six Virtual Biomes: Description of plant and animal life in the major biomes and ecosystems.
Habitats and Ecosystems:
- DK Find Out: Interactive illustrations on plants and animals in different habitats.
- Backyard Biodiversity: Kids search for animal life in microhabitats close to home. Involves observation, classification, and species mapping. Includes links to several citizen science projects.
- Endangered Species Assignment: Using earthsendangered.com, create a graphic organizer comparing 4 endangered species from an area of the world.
Environmental Problems and Solutions
- Energy Story: Online book with 20 chapters you can click into to learn about different sources of energy, such as fossil fuels, natural gas, wind, hydro and solar energy, etc. Click into the teacher resources for a list of lesson plans.