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Activity 1: Introduction to Urban Ecosystems

This activity will take the place of 1 one- hour class period.  The entire lesson is included in the teacher's Activity 1 guide below. 

The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to the urban ecosystem that is their neighborhood.  Students will brainstorm the similarities and differences between urban and rural ecosystems and discuss how ecosystems have changed over time.  Ultimately, they will decide, are cities ecosystems? And if so, how has the rapid change and growth cities affected local organisms?

  • The first part of the lesson will have students look at photographs from New York City's Manhatta Project of the city in 1609 and in 2008, and compare the abiotic, biotic, and human-made structures in the ecosystems during those times.  Students will have a discussion to determine if cities today are indeed ecosystems.  
  • The second part of the lesson will have students listen to a scientist who is studying evolution in New York City.  Students will work in groups to answer questions about evolution in urban environments, using an article and the radio segment to support their findings. The class will discuss their results and why it is important to study evolution and adaptation in urban environments.
  • The third part of the lesson will go over the course structure and syllabus with the students. 

Teacher Resources

Student Resources