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Forest Ecology - On-site Activities/Interpreter Led

Grade Level: 5
Content Area:
Life Science
Time to Complete: 1.5 - 2 hours
Title of Program:
Forest Ecology

South Carolina State Standards Addressed:

5-1.1 Identify questions suitable for generating a hypothesis.
5-1.4 Use appropriate tools and instruments safely and accurately when conducting a controlled scientific investigation.
5-1.6 Evaluate results of an investigation to formulate a valid conclusion based on evidence and communicate the findings of the evaluation in oral and written form.
5-1.8 Use appropriate safety procedures when conducting investigations.
5-2.2 Summarize the composition of an ecosystem, considering both biotic factors and abiotic factors.
5-2.3 Compare the characteristics of different ecosystems.
5-2.4 Identify the roles of organisms as they interact and depend on one another through food chains and food webs in an ecosystem, considering producers and consumers, decomposers, predators and prey and parasites and hosts.
5-2.5 Explain how limiting factors affect populations in ecosystem.

Lesson Description:

Students will hike along one of the trails at Table Rock State Park and record observations about the habitat layers of the forest to determine the interdependence between living things and the role of abiotic factors in the forest ecosystem.  Natural processes such as decomposition and succession will be observed and discussed.

Focus Questions For Students:

1. What is a forest and why are forest important?
2. What is ecology?
3. How does a forest provide habitats and support populations for plants and animals?
4. How do the five forest layers become a part of various food webs/chains?
5. What are producers, consumers and decomposers and what role do they play in the forest?
6. What positive or negative impacts do people have on a forest?

Culminating Assessment:

See Post-site activities.


At Table Rock State Park:


pencil and clipboards Forest Observation worksheet
hand lens Square Meter study guide
thermometers (air and soil) pH meter


1. The students will hike a portion of trail to learn about the interdependence of the forest ecosystem.
  Emphasis will be directed toward habitat layers in the forest, producers & consumers, populations, decomposers, succession, and abiotic factors.
2. Students will record notes and data and will be encouraged to make sketches of their observations.

Differentiation of Instruction:

Students with physical disabilities that will prevent them from walking on the trail can complete similar observations near the trailhead and day use area.

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