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3.3 Threats to Biodiversity17 March 2019

To start this sub-topic we need to understand the challenges to quantifying the number of species that exist in the world. This gives an opportunity to link to and the way that scientists work. This also... more

Student Exemplar IA - Secondary Data - Air Pollution9 August 2020

This student chose to investigate air pollution in China. She narrowed her question down to Beijing and managed to find a source of data from which she could sample. While investigating her environmental... 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

7.2 Climate Change - Causesfree5 May 2019

This subtopic contains a selection of slightly different angles on Climate Change. Students need to understand the difference between weather and climate, the difference between the greenhouse effect... more

4.4 Water Pollution - Introduction15 February 2019

By the time I come to teach this topic, my students already know about biological oxygen demand, sampling water, indicator species and eutrophication but this depends on the order of the units that you... more

3.2 Origins of Biodiversityfree10 March 2019

I always tell students this is my favourite topic as it relates strongly to my Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and takes me back to my years of study!This sub-topic brings natural selection and evolution... more

Grading the Individual Investigation Reportfree3 February 2019

Within these sub-pages, we have compiled some real example IAs. The examiner comments are our comments based on our experience and are not definitive IB comments.My advice when marking your students is... more

Writing the Independent Investigation23 April 2017

The Independent Investigation (II) should take about 10 hours of your time, including the planning and investigation stages. It is worth 25% of the final grade reflecting the importance that the IB places... more

4.1 An Introduction to Water Systems - The Hydrological Cycle30 August 2018

In this short introduction to water systems, we will learn about the hydrological cycle as a system, identifying stores and flows in the system and how humans impact the system. The next part of this... more

3.4 Conservation of Biodiversity15 February 2019

After the previous sub-topic this is an opportunity to fill the students with possibilities and good news stories. Of course it isn't all good news and students need to learn to critically analyse the... 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

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

Student Exemplar IA - Experimental - Wild Fires3 February 2019

The context that inspired this investigation was how wildfires contribute to climate change. The student was aware of a massive fire outside Moscow which caused air pollution problems in the city. He... 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

8.1 An Introduction to Human Population Demographics7 June 2020

For a biologist starting to teach what was then Environmental Systems, this topic was my biggest fear. I had never studied this topic academically and so had to set about teaching myself first before... more

7.1 Energy Choices and Security11 February 2020

The idea of energy resources has been reframed in the context of energy security. The global context of energy needs is growing and developing and will need to be understood.Students need to understand... more

Insights into the IA criteria15 April 2020

How do examiners arrive at decisions as to how many marks should each criterion be awarded for the IA? You already have the criteria in the guide but what follows is a check list and pointers to help... more

3.1 Data Analysis of Biodiversity3 March 2019

Here are some data sets and figures to practice data analysis of biodiversity data. Take note of some of the language that students might come across. These are not designed as exam questions and may... 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

3.3 Conservation Case Studies15 February 2019

Students need to be familiar with three species case studies. Although these three species need to be very well studied, exam questions may focus on one or two of the species or all three. Questions have... 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

Student Exemplar IA - Secondary Data - Energy3 February 2019

This student was interested in looking at how the wealth of a country relates to their energy consumption. She did this using Gapminder as a source of secondary data. This is a mid-level IA with the student... more

ESS IA Student Checklist2 January 2021

This is a very practical straightforward checklist that allows students to take complete ownership of the IA. As the IA can cover fieldwork, secondary data, surveys and labs this checklist has been designed... more

Student Exemplar IA - Secondary Data - Child Mortality9 August 2020

Word Count: 1962Exposure to poor air quality and air pollution is believed to be a factor in infant mortality risk(U.S. National, 2006) . There are many causes and effects of air pollution, specifically,... more

4.4 Water Pollution - Eutrophication6 April 2020

Eutrophication is a very common environmental problem and also has appeared on ESS exams many times. Past paper case studies include May 2011 about Sweden and Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma) in May 2015. By... more

3.1 Introducing Biodiversity15 February 2019

This sub-topic involves knowing some important definitions but links to 2.5 Investigating Ecosystems in which students have learned how to compare sites biodiversity and species richness and 2.4 Zonation... more

Guiding Students through the Independent Investigation6 December 2019

It is important to keep the independent Investigation to a scale which is doable in the ten hours allocated. This is a relatively simple investigation and not an Extended Essay. There are similarities... more

Topic 4.4 Activities - Water Pollution13 April 2019

With this slide show, students can gain an overview of the topic. To turn it into an activity useful for improving their general knowledge and preparedness for the Paper 1 Case Study, try asking them... more

4.4 Water Pollution Overview22 September 2018

With this slide show, students can gain an overview of the topic. To turn it into an activity useful for improving their general knowledge and preparedness for the Paper 1 Case Study, try asking them... more

Paper 1 example: Northern Ireland6 March 2021

This paper has been designed to replicate the typical types of resources and questions you will get on Paper 1. in this case study, the focus is on a large freshwater lake or "lough" in Northern Ireland.... more

Welcome to ESSfree25 April 2019

If you want to present an idea from the website to your class or introduce an idea or play some of the multimedia, it's a good idea to use the presentation mode. This is a really neat way to make your... more

4.2 Access to Fresh Water - the problems8 September 2019

It is important to contrast why different locations may be suffering from the challenges of access to fresh water. Freshwater is unequally distributed around the world (some areas are dry and others,... more

4.4 Investigating management of eutrophication10 March 2021

Here are three activities designed to be used either in class or to be set as homework. The three examples in task two will help students formulate responses to essay questions as provides lots of discussion... 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

4.1 The Hydrological Cycle Challengefree17 February 2019

Students are very familiar with the water cycle and so the challenge for a teacher is to take them beyond what they know, or think they know. Students can mostly draw a version of the water cycle without... more

Developing a relevant, coherent and focused Research Question for your IA6 September 2020

Student activity: Improve your ability to form a relevant, coherent and focused research question by completing these activities. Read the following information before you begin the activities more

2.5 Investigating Ecosystemsfree15 February 2019

What? How Many? Where? Why? These are the questions that an ecologist is attempting to answer when they are studying a research site. I believe the best way to teach this sub-topic is through practical... more

7.2 Climate Change - Impacts7 June 2020

The image shown here is a still from a video showing the progress of Hurricane Sandy which hit New York and New Jersey in October 2012.In this section, we are going to examine the impacts of Climate Change... more

6.1 The Atmosphere as a System5 October 2020

Depending upon which order you have taught the course, you might be able to save some time in this sub-topic. I have already taught topic 1 and 7 at this point and so students already know about albedo... more

7.3 Climate Change - Mitigation and Adaptation19 May 2019

In this sub-topic we explore what can be done to reduce the causes of climate change (mitigation) and what can be done to prepare societies to cope with the effects of climate change, managing the impacts... more

8.3 Solid Domestic Waste26 January 2020

There is such a wide range of attitudes to, and management of, solid domestic waste (SDW). One of the challenges of this topic is for students to develop a sufficiently sophisticated understanding of... more

Topic 7.2 Activities - Climate Change - Causes and Impactsfree13 April 2019

Here's a simple activity to check learning on the differences between weather and climate and the contribution of ocean and atmospheric movements have on climate.Watch the presentation then answer the... 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

Mitigation of Climate Change19 May 2019

Here is an activity to help understand the mitigation of climate change. Students should review the slide show showing different mitigation strategies then rank the strategies by cost, ease and effectiveness. more

Topic 7: Climate change and energy productionfree16 February 2019

This topic has been greatly updated and has moved from "the issue of global warming" to a much more integrated approach to energy and climate change.This may be one of the fastest evolving subject areas... more

Case Studies in ESS27 February 2021

This course is built around case studies and using examples in exam responses is encouraged. This teaching strategy helps enrich the course and engage students. In order for students to keep track of... more

5.3 Soil Degradation & Conservation9 December 2020

Some teachers find this topic a little boring and difficult to inspire the students. It's a crucial topic and frequently examined in combination with food production although it goes beyond food production.... more

Student Exemplar IA 2 - Experimental - Salinity3 February 2019

This student was interested in the impacts of overuse of irrigation. She had learned that irrigation can lead to increases in soil salinity and thus decreases in agricultural productivity. This led to... more

Student Exemplar IA - Surveys - Plastic Use3 February 2019

This student used a survey technique to investigate knowledge and practice around plastic recycling. She wanted to know if a family's cultural background had an effect on their practices.An interesting... more

Seaspiracy: Questions to support content28 March 2021

Brand new to Netflix this month is a documentary that aims to expose unsustainable fishing practices and the threat to oceanic biodiversity from human impact. The movie is long so I have divided it into... more