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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

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 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

Topic 1.1 Activities - Environmental Value Systemsfree10 April 2019

This is a great activity to use as an introduction to the course. Understanding Environmental Value Systems can start on day one and helps students to understand their relationship with the course and... 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

1.1 Who am I?28 August 2018

This is a great activity to use as an introduction to the course. Understanding Environmental Value Systems can start on day one and helps students to understand their relationship with the course and... 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

1.2 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

1.1 Environmental History and Attitudes30 May 2021

In order to develop and understanding of how societies have developed an understanding and relationship to the environment, it is useful to review a brief history of the environment.Use the presentation... more

1.1 Applying the Environmental Value Systems2 February 2020

It can be difficult to develop a thorough understanding of the EVSs and then to apply these to the topics across the course but they are at the heart of ESS and can be asked in many different contexts. 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

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

1.1 What do you think? What do they think?free24 August 2019

It's useful to start with the student at the centre of things and to have them engage with their own EVS. Next students need to start developing an understanding of why different groups will have different... more

Topic and Unit Guides17 April 2020

This unit takes students through topics 1.1 Environmental History 1.1 Environmental Value Systems 1.2 Systems and Models 1.3 Energy and Equilibria of the course and needs about eight hours of teaching... 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

1.1 Exploring ideas of Intrinsic Value13 April 2019

Some people believe that all / some elements of the natural environment have intrinsic value. They should be valued just because they exist. There are a number of countries which have given an equal right... more

An Introduction: What do I know?15 April 2019

As I start the course, I like to have students show that they are engaging in environmental issues. This is crucial to success in the course and engagement throughout the course. It's also a great way... 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

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

1.1 Cultural Attitudes10 June 2020

The development of environmental movements is often viewed from a very western perspective. We are going to investigate a couple of examples that will help broaden our understanding of how different societies... more

Your Route Through the Course14 February 2019

We can teach this course in many different orders or through themes. Participating in discussions with fellow workshop leaders, examiners and in online forum such as the Facebook group for ESS teachers... 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

First Day Ideas12 July 2018

This is an exciting time with your fresh faced and non IB weary new recruits. This is also a precious and important part of the course where you can really hook in the students with up to date, relevant... 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

4.1 An Introduction to Water Systems - The Hydrological Cycle13 May 2021

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

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

Getting Startedfree6 April 2019

This section of the site is aimed at new teachers to ESS but there may be something for everyone. 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

1.1 Sometimes it takes a Disaster24 October 2020

Sometimes it takes a disaster to change the way a government or society responds to an environmental problem. In this activity students consider five major environmental disasters answering key questions... more

Overview: Thinking about Environmental Systems29 June 2019

This unit takes students through topics 1.1 Environmental History 1.1 Environmental Value Systems 1.2 Systems and Models 1.3 Energy and Equilibria of the course and needs about eight hours of teaching... 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

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

Course Organisation12 February 2019

There are many roads to Rome and there are may ways to organise your course. There a multitude of areas of expertise behind an ESS teacher. Some of us have a Biology background, others Geography... 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

1.1 Environmental Value Systems - Reading Application1 September 2019

It is vital that teachers really try to engage students in current environmental issues whilst developing their analytical skills in relevant sections of the curriculum. The article below caught my eye... more

Topic 3.1 Activities - Introduction to Biodiversity13 April 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

Exemplar Lesson Planfree7 April 2019

With so many resources on the internet, sometimes it can seem like an overwhelming task to select the best ones to use when you are being observed. My most recent lesson was rating outstanding so if you... 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

Environmental Scrap Book16 April 2019

Keeping up with the news about the environment is an important part of this course. Students entering class and telling you about the latest piece of news or idea they have heard about is one of the potential... more

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

Applying EVSs - Answers2 February 2020

1. What is an Environmental Value System (EVS)?A world view or paradigm - a way of looking at the world based on many inputs from life, culture, location etc - and how it relates to the environmental... 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

1.3 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

What is a System? Answers8 March 2020

1. Define a System.A system is any collection of components that work together to perform a function. The system if made up of component parts. The parts work together and the whole thing serves some... more

6.2 Stratospheric Ozone5 January 2020

I am taking the approach to have this topic as a self-study unit and so students can work through the material and tasks then check their understanding with the questions at then end of the sub-topic. more

Answers to Analysing Biodiversity3 March 2019

These are suggested answers but there may be other equally valid answers.Describe the distribution of amphibians in South America. [2]Most of the west coast and southern central areas have the lowest... 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

8.4 Human Population and Carrying Capacity14 February 2019

The concepts of a human population's carrying capacity and its ecological footprint are the inverse of each other. The carrying capacity is the maximum number of humans that can sustainably be supported... more

Statistics for ESSfree25 January 2021

Sophisticated statistics are not required for ESS but use of the mean, standard deviation and some inferential statistics can improve the analytical section of the IA. This page contains a slide show... more

6.4 Acid Deposition8 September 2019

Acid deposition was a major environmental problem in the 1970s and 1980s and continues to be a problem as long as fossil fuels are burned. This is one of the reasons why it is still a large part of the... more