Students explore the root causes of extinction and the complexity of conservation efforts through a class-wide focal species, the Sumatran rhino. Students use videos, maps, and hands-on activities to learn about the challenges faced by the Sumatran rhino and the relationships it has with other species in its ecosystem. Then, small groups receive a target species assignment and become experts in the life history of those other species. Students then design one possible conservation strategy to protect their target species and prepare a grant proposal and funding pitch to try to gain support for their idea. After the unit, students can use their newfound knowledge to share their expertise with the community and support ongoing conservation efforts to protect endangered and threatened species locally or globally.

 

Use this unit at a glance to explore a brief outline of the materials included in this unit.

 

Unit Driving Question: How can we prevent a species from going extinct while also meeting the needs of humans and other local species

3 hrs 45 mins

Students brainstorm what they know and need to learn about endangered species, in order to best answer the driving question for the unit. Students then engage with a variety of sources about the Sumatran rhino to learn about conservation concepts, including causes of extinction, food webs, and ecosystem services. This lesson is part of the Extinction Stinks! unit.

4 hrs 35 mins

Students receive their target species and perform background research. Students learn about working with local populations to protect endangered species and read several conservation success stories. Students engage with two conservation storytellers and apply the power of storytelling to their target species. They then compare two grant proposals to prepare for writing their own proposals. This lesson is part of the Extinction Stinks!  unit.

4 hrs 10 mins

Students create a grant proposal for their chosen solution to submit to potential funders. In addition to a written proposal, students discuss best practices for delivering a presentation and create a brief pitch to share their ideas with a live audience. They then share their ideas in a final presentation and evaluate their learning in the unit. This lesson is part of the Extinction Stinks! unit.

Noun

all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

captivity
Noun

confinement or imprisonment.

Noun

organism that eats meat.

Noun

management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

consumer
Noun

organism on the food chain that depends on autotrophs (producers) or other consumers for food, nutrition, and energy.

criteria
Plural Noun

set of standards or rules.

cultural services
Noun

non-material benefits that humans obtain from ecosystems, e.g., sense of home, mental and physical health, tourism, spiritual experience, etc.

decomposer
Noun

organism that breaks down dead organic material.

digital story
Noun

fictional or nonfictional narrative told through the use of media such as photos, maps, video, and audio recordings.

Noun

community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

Noun

organism threatened with extinction.

Noun

process of complete disappearance of a species from Earth.

Noun

all related food chains in an ecosystem. Also called a food cycle.

genetic diversity
Noun

difference or variety of units of inheritance (genes) in a species.

gestation
Noun

pregnancy, or the period from conception until birth.

grant
Noun

money given to a person or group of people to carry out a specific project or program.

grant writing
Noun

process of applying to a person, business, or other organization for money or other funding.

Noun

environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

Noun

organism that eats mainly plants and other producers.

isolation
Noun

separation from other people, habitats, or communities.

Noun

organism that eats a variety of organisms, including plants, animals, and fungi.

pitch
Verb

present an idea or information in such a way as to gain support from one’s audience, usually in the form of a short speech or presentation, which is referred to by the same word (pitch, noun).

producer
Noun

organism on the food chain that can produce its own energy and nutrients. Also called an autotroph.

provisioning services
Noun

material benefits humans obtain from ecosystems, e.g., food, water, lumber, fiber, etc.

regulating services
Noun

ways in which ecosystems regulate fluctuating factors in the environment, such as disease, climate, water cycles, nutrient cycles, etc.

Noun

group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

species
Noun

group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

Noun

native, geographic area in which an organism can be found. Range also refers to the geographic distribution of a particular species.

supporting services
Noun

benefits provided by ecosystems that are indirectly supportive of other types of ecosystem services, e.g., providing habitat, nutrient cycling, maintaining genetic diversity, etc.

threatened species
Noun

organism that may soon become endangered.

threshold
Noun

point in a process that must be met to start a new stage in the process.