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1.3 Energy and Equilibria15 February 2019

This really is one of the most crucial ideas in the course and has been extended from the 2008 subject guide. Students need to understand the difference between positive and negative feedback loops and... more

1.4 Sustainability15 February 2019

Initially I combined this Sub-Topic with 8.1 as an introduction to Human Societies and resource use but due to forced circumstances (time pressures) it has moved to a separate small unit preceding sub-topic... more

2.1 Species and Populationsfree15 February 2019

To start this new unit I begin with some simple definitions then tackle the fundamental and realised niche. I find this brings students straight into the world of ecology, actively using words that can... more

1.5 Humans and Pollution15 February 2019

I'm still not quite sure where is the best place to teach this content. Initially I thought I'd place it together with climate change but I've changed my mind and at the moment I think it may go nicely... more

1.2 Systems and Modelsfree25 April 2019

I know that a lot of teachers don't teach this subtopic as a standalone unit but I find it very useful to introduce students to these crucial ideas at the start of the course; after all this is the fundamental... more

1.3 Tipping Points Activityfree28 August 2018

This can be a tricky activity but it really helps students understand the concepts of tipping points and develop some real examples of where scientists have shown tipping points have occurred.Students... more

1.3 Equilibrium and Feedback - Reviewfree10 March 2020

This is another incredibly important topic and students absolutely need to learn the definitions of positive and negative feedback. They are guaranteed on every exam. These are also fundamental concepts... more

1.4 Sustainability Introduction5 January 2020

This is a quick introduction to some important terminology for topic 1.4 Sustainability. Review the presentation then check your understanding with the questions.The answers are here Sustainability an... more

Topic 2.1 Activities - Species and Populationsfree13 April 2019

In this section we are collecting inquiry driven activities to enrich the teaching of topic 2.1, Species and Populations.Use the presentation to introduce key terms and ideas. Watch the videos. The HHMI... more

1.2 What is a System? The Basics8 March 2020

There's a lot of terminology in this section of the course and students need to be confident with the vocabulary, definitions and the ability to deconstruct a situation from a systems perspective. more

Topic 1.3 Activities - Energy and Equilibriafree13 April 2019

In this section we have collated activities for learning that will enrich the learning of this concept that many students will be challenged to understandThis is another incredibly important topic and... more

Equilibrium and Feedback Loops15 February 2019

There are a number of ways you can introduce these ideas. I do this during an early introductory unit, but some teachers prefer to embed the ideas into units without any pre-teaching. I think the ideas,... more

2.2 Communities and Ecosystems15 February 2019

I teach this sub-topic immediately following 2.1. They naturally flow from one to the next idea. I have enjoyed re-imagining how I teach ecology since the last version of the ESS syllabus. I focus less... more

1.3 Feedback Test9 September 2018

I use this test early in the course to show students how important it is to learn definitions and the power of words.I give them the test with the answers one week (approximately) before I give the test.... more

Topic 1 Quiz29 December 2020

This quiz features a variety of multiple choice and true/false questions. Each time you select this quiz a new assortment of questions will appear.Topics: Topic 1: Foundations of ESS, 1.5: Humans and... more

2.1 Predator-Prey Interactions Activity12 September 2021

Predator prey interactions between wolves and moose have been studied for several decades on Isle Royale in the US. This has become a classic case study of population dynamics. It is an isolated island... more

1.1 Environmental History1 November 2020

It's important to balance the amount of time that you could spend on this topic with the relative weight placed on the topic in the syllabus/guide. On the one hand, there is about 1.5 hours allocated... more

Topic 2.2 Activities - Communities and Ecosystemsfree23 April 2019

Students very occasionally need to be able to draw an ecological pyramid to scale. More often they should be able to sketch a pyramid but this is good practice.Certainly being able to apply the understanding... more

Checking Your Understanding14 February 2019

In this section of the website, we will collect a set of questions which you can use for review of each subtopic. Thanks to Megan McClain for the original questions which have occasionally been adapted.... more

Topic 1.4 Activities - Sustainabilityfree13 April 2019

The concept of sustainability underpins the whole course. Find enriching activities to support your teaching here. This is a quick introduction to some important terminology for topic 1.4 Sustainability.... more

2.3 Flows of Energy and Matter15 February 2019

This sub-topic links to the very idea of systems when we try to understand what happens to the energy that enters the earth's global systems and how does it flow through the system. Is it transferred... more

1.2 What is a System - Advanced30 May 2021

Work through the presentation then test yourself on the important definitions, vocabulary and concepts. You need to know these with precision.The answers can be found here What is a System - Advanced?... more

2.1 Biotic Interactions Review24 October 2020

Use this presentation to make sure you know your definitions and can give examples of biotic interactions.The answers are on this page (filtered for teachers to release to students).Review Quiz more

The Topicsfree13 February 2019

This current ESS curriculum is for first teaching in September 2015 and was prepared from about 2011-2013 by a group of educators from around the world each bringing a different perspective on the course.... more

Topic 1.2 Activities - Systems and Modelsfree10 April 2019

In this section we are collecting inquiry driven activities to enrich the teaching of topic 1.2, Systems and Models.There's a lot of terminology in this section of the course and students need to be confident... more

2.1 Fundamental vs Realised Niche Conceptfree10 September 2018

Use the presentation to introduce key terms and ideas. Watch the videos. The HHMI videos are excellent at putting these concepts into the real world and it's great to see Scientists in action. If time... more

5.2 Inequality of food distribution15 February 2019

This significant idea revolves around the idea there is a vast amount of food waste produced every year around the world but the reasons for this waste differ between LEDCs and MEDCs.There is a thread... more

1.1 Environmental Value Systemsfree25 April 2019

Environmental value systems are an excellent way to start the course and get to know your students. I like to start by asking students to explore what they know already, who they are (in the context of... more

Topic 1 Test - Introduction to Paper 2 Part B1 December 2018

This test is an introduction to students in the style of Paper 2 Section B questions. I intend to use this as a homework activity but it could be done under test conditions with 15 minutes allocated to... more

1.5 Dilemma of DDT Debate28 August 2018

Refer back to The Dilemma of DDT in The Topics section for more background information on DDT.My most recent group of students really engaged in this activity and it made a memorable impression on them.... more

2.1 Fundamental vs Realised Nichesfree15 February 2019

To introduce the niche I start with a quick overview of some key definitions, especially abiotic and biotic factors then give a schematic of the niche that I've devised. We then watch two videos, one... more

Topic 2.3 Activities - Flows of Energy and Matter21 February 2021

Students need to understand how energy flows through an ecosystem. A key element of this is to understand photosynthesis, respiration and how to find the productivity of a system. They should know the... more

1.4 Environmental Impact Assessments13 January 2019

Review the presentation and check your understanding with the questions.1. Identify the five stages of an EIA?Screeningscopingmitigation and report writingdecision making more

1.4 Sustainability Treasure Hunt28 August 2018

This is a quick activity to help students make the connections between natural capital and natural income. They should refer to 1.4 Sustainability for guidance on definitions.Student Task: more

1.4 Ecological Footprints - Personal Investigation15 November 2020

Following these simple instructions, students will calculate their own personal ecological footprint and compare it to some case studies available on the Footprint Network website. This is a great way... more

Twenty IA Examples29 August 2020

While it is not possible to just list research questions from our own students we can provide a list of examples of how students have linked their environmental context with a local / focused context... more

1.5 Pollution Card Sort15 August 2019

I use this activity to quickly get students thinking about different categories of pollution and understanding the concepts of key vocabulary for topic 1.5.You can find the answers here (for teachers... more

Exploring Tipping Pointsfree25 April 2019

For an activity associated with this concept try Tipping Points Activity . This activity guides students into developing their own case study of a tipping point in a graphic that has been documented... more

Topic 1: Foundations of ESSfree16 February 2019

In the previous version of the ESS course many teachers left Topic 7 as it was then until the end of the course. This meant that students didn't have the fundamentals or foundations of ESS during their... more

1.4 Comparing EIAs5 January 2021

Students should review what is involved in an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and then as a class, complete the table using the links (and others they may find). You can adapt this activity to your... more

2.3 Productivity6 November 2019

Students need to understand how energy flows through an ecosystem. A key element of this is to understand photosynthesis, respiration and how to find the productivity of a system. They should know the... more

2.4 Biomes, Zonation and Succession24 November 2019

In Sub-topic 2.4 we learn about biomes, zonation and succession. This is an interesting grouping of topics as they can overlap conceptually. I have chosen to teach these topics relatively late in year... more

Topic 1.5 Activities - Pollutionfree13 April 2019

Find activities to enrich your teaching of pollution here. For this activity students access a Pinterest board which I have compiled on news stories about Pollution in general. In order to access a Pinterest... more

Review Activities17 April 2020

We have a number of pages that contain review quizzes on the site. Here is a summary of them to help students self-review. While making this summary page, I have noticed a number of gaps and will start... more

2.1 Biotic Interactions18 November 2020

For this lesson, we watch this short video about biological communities which includes important definitions. I then go through the definitions on this page quickly and finish with an activity where the... more

1.3 Feedback Loops - Card Sort Activity22 September 2019

At the start of the course, students often struggle to either memorise or understand and construct example feedback loops. With this activity, they will practice constructing feedback loops using components... more

5.1 Introduction to Soil Systems15 February 2019

Soil can be a tricky topic to engage students with; after all it can be dry and crumbly! In order to bring the topic alive I like to show at least part of a documentary about the subject. The one I used... more

1.4 Circular Economy28 August 2018

As the syllabus dictates, "all topics should be viewed through the lens of sustainability". There are great resources available through the Ellen Macarthur foundation. I have outlined some of them here. more

4.3 Aquatic Food Production Systems15 February 2019

This is quite a new topic for ESS. Although teachers had the option, in the previous syllabus, to teach an aquatic food production system, I have not found this a common option. Past case studies have... more

1.3:Investigating predator prey models19 September 2021

Which factors affect the stability of a predator-prey population size relationship? This is an inquiry based activity that uses a computer based model from Northwestern University to simulate the relationship... more