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2010 Archive:
Forest Resources & Environmental Sciences Institute 2010

View 2010 Teaching Units

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2009 Archive:
Forest Resources & Environmental Sciences Institute 2009

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Syllabus PDF

2007 Archive:
Forest Resources & Environmental Sciences Institute 2007
View Lesson Plans / Teaching Units / Slide Show

2005 Archive:
Forest Resources & Environmental Sciences Institute 2005
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2004 Archive:
Forest Resources & Environmental Sciences Institute 2004
View the website for 2004 Institute, Picture Gallery, Syllabus, Teaching Units / Lesson Plans /Slide Show
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Forest Ecology & Resources Teaching Units
developed by
2010 Forest Ecology & Resources Summer Teacher Institute Participants


1.  Exploring the Five Senses Through Nature, by Sarah Stevens
            Kindergarten, Science and ELA

Unit Overview
This unit is intended to help students understand what energy is, where it comes from, and how it affects our everyday lives.  The goal is for students to become more aware of their energy consumption and to learn to conserve energy.  They will learn specific ways they can save energy at school and at home.  They will understand that their personal choices and actions have a great impact on the environment.  Another goal is for them to understand what it means to reduce, reuse, and recycle and to take interest in doing these important things.    

2.  Forest Ecology, by Cheryl M. Briggs
            Kindergarten, Environment/Science

Unit Overview
This unit is designed to introduce kindergarten students to environmental education.  It is designed to foster an appreciation for “mother” Earth.  It is my hope to plant the “seeds” that the environment is special and that we need to observe it and take care of it.  Learning experiences include leaf collection, sorting and identification, recycling, bird watching and storytelling.

3.  Michigan Forest Ecology Unit, by Anne H. Nagi
4th Grade, Science

Unit Overview
This unit is designed to instruct 4th grade students about forest ecology in Michigan.  It is developed to teach the student basic tree identification as well as tree morphology.  Next it examines the roles trees play within a forest ecosystem as an important habitat and key portion of the food web/chain.  The unit culminates by exploring our dependence on Michigan forests via past and present forest management practices (which ties in with the 4th grade Social Studies curriculum covering Michigan history and economics).

4.  Outdoor Classroom Impact Study, by Julie Scott
            5th Grade, Science

Unit Overview
These lessons provide the opportunity for students to study the effects of human impact on ecosystems by identifying and journaling the life found in the outdoor classroom and then watching it throughout the year. Students will learn how scientists identify, collect and maintain samples in the field.  The lesson plan is inquiry in design, allowing the children to define how and what information is collected.  Students utilize technology by using a digital camera to record what they are seeing and creating a field guide blog of the outdoor classroom so they may share their findings to the outside community. The unit culminates with students assessing the data collected to determine the human impact on the classroom and creating an outdoor classroom management plan.  Students are given time to put the first phase of their management plan into action. In the end, students write a letter inviting future students to pick up observation and management where they left off.



1.  Ex-Tree-mely Important Lessons on Tree Identification, by Beth Rittenberg
            6th Grade, Science

Unit Overview
In this unit students will learn to identify trees, measure the diameter and height of trees and make observations about the undergrowth.  Students will draw correlations between what grows in the riparian zone and how it has a direct affect on the health of the river.  Students will be able to identify the impact humans have on the environment around us.

2.  Integrating Forestry into 6th Grade Earth Science, by Chris Geerer
            6th Grade, Earth Science

Unit Overview
This unit uses tree and forestry concepts to teach a variety of earth science content expectations, including transpiration as part of the water cycle, determining past climates using leaf surveys, and the effects of acid rain on trees.  This unit also ties in the importance of forests as resources and the effects of human activity on forest ecology, with the goal of creating an increased awareness and appreciation for trees both in our urban setting and throughout Michigan.

3.  Leaves and the Trees that Grow Them, by Joshua Meriwether
            6th Grade, Science

Unit Overview
Students will compare and contrast leaves and the trees that they grow on. Student will understand that trees are plants and a very important part of ecosystems. The activities will allow students to examine different types of leaves with the goal of learning the parts of a leaf and the function of each part. Students will also learn how to use tree leaves and bark to identify the different types of trees and compare and contrast the needs of different types of trees.

4.  Make a Difference:  Adopt a Tree, by Julie E. Junttila
            6th Grade, English Language Arts and Science

Unit Overview
Pairs of students will adopt a tree from the school forest, record observations and journal entries, participate in artistic-based writing projects, and plant a tree.  The goals for this unit include the students’ ability to enhance writing with personal style, display enthusiasm regarding writing, become comfortable with composing charts and graphs, become familiar with an ecosystem that surrounds them, and understand that we all can make a difference by adopting a tree. When students closely observe a tree and its habitat, they will gain an appreciation for nature and be more apt to treat it and others more respectfully. They will conclude the unit with planting a tree and making a difference.

5.  Five Forestry Lessons, by Margaret M. McGregor
            6th & 7th Grade, Science

Unit Overview
The following activities will be integrated throughout the school year rather than as a single five day unit, and will be incorporated into both the 6th grade and 7th grade science curriculum as follows:

6th Grade                                                                      7th Grade
Signs of Fall                                                                  Water Wonders
400-AcreWood                                                           Understanding Watersheds
Stream Study

The sixth graders will start the school year by using the schoolyard to work on observation, identification, measurement, and prediction skills.  We will revisit their areas again during the winter and spring terms. 
The seventh grade curriculum will use the watershed lessons. 

6.  Michigan’s Forests:  First Kame the Glaciers, Till formed Soil:  Soil, Trees, and Other Duff from a  Roscommon Perspective, by Chuck Schepke
            8th Grade, Science

Unit Overview
The primary goal of this 7-10 day unit is to have students make the connection to the geological past as part of a developmental history to explain why we have different soils and trees occurring in Michigan forests today. 
The unit will be presented first by introducing students to glaciers and the landforms that were left by them retreating in the Pleistocene or “Ice Age”.  The students will next relate these landforms to areas in our community from a PowerPoint presentation and map them out referenced to known landmarks, roads, lakes, cities, and rivers/streams on a Glacial Landform Map of Roscommon County.  Students will be asked to add more to this list from their own personal knowledge of other commonly known locations by glacial landforms by Wiki-space Discussion posts of text and pictures. Students will build conceptually how glacial derived material is developed into soils through a multimedia background exploration.  This will be followed up by a field activity exploring glacial landforms, soil profiles, and collecting soil samples to investigate in a lab the following class.  The students will next will start to taking the simulated role of being the teacher and develop a worksheet activity to cover the video “Exploring the Secret Life of Trees”.   Students will then learn how to identify trees using a type of dichotomous key and survey sampled soil profile areas.  They will then conclude if their data matches up with tree forms as those depicted on soil and terrain map of tree types associated with the Higgins Lake Watershed area.  The final evaluation piece will be a PowerPoint that they will have to construct showing evolutionary relationship between glaciers, soils, and trees



10th Grade Biology or 12th Grade Advanced Placement Biology

Unit Overview
In this unit, students will learn how to use a dichotomous key to identify common Michigan forest trees. They will also learn how to use some of the common tools used by foresters in the field including a Merritt hypsometer, diameter tape, and 100 ft flexible measuring tape. With these skills, students will calculate the carbon sequestration value of the trees in a local park.  This unit will fit into a larger unit on ecology that is a part of the 10th grade Biology curriculum. If used in A.P. Biology it would be a part of a larger unit either on ecology or botany.

High School Science

Unit Overview
This unit covers the history of forestry and forestry investigations.  Students will participate in an inquiry activity about healthy forests, perform an Emerald Ash Borer webquest, identify insects in a local forest, make Biltmore sticks, perform common forestry measurements and study the relationship between forests and carbon.


     10th Grade, Biology

Unit Overview
The following unit works well in a Biology classroom during an Ecology unit.  It offers many opportunities for science inquiry, and allows students to recognize the social implications of many science-related issues.  During this five lesson unit, students will investigate what it means for a forest to be healthy, will learn how to measure whether or not a forest is healthy, and will become stewards of a local forest.

10th Grade, Physical Science, Life Science, Environmental Science, Reading

Unit Overview
The driving forces behind what exists in the environment are rooted in physical science. These are fundamental disciplines, and should be addressed when looking at what we have in the environment today. This unit covers physical processes that drive the water and carbon cycle, measurements, conservation of mass, and energy.
Students will determine biomass of native tree species and determine how much reactants and products are present. They will also use the carbon sequestration activity to determine energy use by themselves and what it equates to in terms of fuel use.  Lesson 8 in the MEECS manual will be used for them to develop an understanding of storm water and its temperature can influence life that depends on this cycle.

A.P. Environmental Science

Unit Overview
This unit is designed to introduce a number of topics early in the school year that will be built upon both as the unit progresses and later in the school year.  The main topics will include forest ecology, plant identification and classification, and abiotic and biotic population studies.  Students will participate in hands-on outdoor studies, practice measurement skills and write lab reports.

11th/12th Grade, English/Language Arts

Unit Overview
These lessons are designed to assist students in developing and using Language Arts skills in a variety of cross-curriculum situations, specifically pairing elements of the Science curriculum with benchmarks in the English/Language Arts Curriculum. While the lessons need not be presented as a unit they do share a Michigan Forestry theme, with individual topics that include different elements of forestry, such as the history of Michigan’s forests, tree identification and terminology, and stream characteristics. This unit expands upon and enriches the Language Arts units on analyzing, summarizing, and comparing informational texts, contrast and comparison, and in class presentations, as well as applying knowledge from grade level science texts.
The Goal of these lessons is to allow students to use and refine Language Arts skills in a variety of subjects and settings.  These lessons are not specifically designed to be used as a stand-alone unit, but rather individual lessons to be inserted into existing units.

High School, Summer Wilderness Program

Unit Overview
These lessons are to be a part of a week long summer wilderness program taken annually by students of my ECO Club on the Flambeau River in northern Wisconsin. This trip is entirely extracurricular. The overall objective of these lessons is to give the students an overall understanding of the value of a stand of woods. There are many competing interests for the timber: recreational, pulpwood, chips to be directly burned as fuel, saw logs, veneer logs and biomass to be gasified or converted to cellulosic ethanol. With all this competition forest management has never been more important. Prior to the trip the students read the Chapter on the Flambeau in Aldo Leopold’s book, “The Sand County Almanac”. They meet with a ranger from the Flambeau River State Forest to hear of the history and forest management practices in the forest which strike a balance between the competing needs of nature, recreation and industry. Each evening a forestry lesson is given.  On the way home a visit to the Flambeau River paper mill in Park Falls, WI is made. The mill is upstream of where the students paddled. There they see how paper is made, conservation practices and most importantly how virtually all waste is utilized for other products or the production of energy. In the near future energy will be made there by the gasification of biomass.


High School Science

Unit Overview
Invasive plant species are spreading rapidly throughout many forest ecosystems in the United States and beyond. In recent years, scientists have developed methods to measure and quantify the ecological impact these species are having on forests. This unit will provide students an opportunity to conduct similar work in local forest ecosystems. The main focus of the unit will be to compare an “invaded” forest with a relatively “natural” forest that has not been degraded by invasive plants. A variety of physical and biological parameters will be measured and compared.  Observation, data collection, and using professional forestry methods will highlight the field work. This unit will compliment and connect with two science units that I currently teach, invasive plants and forest ecosystems in my Environmental Field Research class. The overall goal of the unit is to help students understand specific ways that invasive plants degrade forest ecosystems.

High School Environmental Science

Unit Overview
Riveredge Nature Center is a 380-acre property located in SE Wisconsin.  The property includes prairie, mixed deciduous forest and moist lowland riparian zones.  The nature center has numerous volunteers and research projects, like a stream quality study, sturgeon reintroduction and avian monitoring.  Of particular interest is the avian monitoring.  Riveredge has three bird study projects:  breeding pair, Christmas bird survey and bird banding using constant mist netting.  One species of bird, the veery, has shown a marked decrease every year over the past 10 years. The purpose of this unit is to conduct a habitat suitability index for the veery at Riveredge Nature Center.  The outcome will help to determine if the Riveredge property has changed and can no longer support the veery or if there is some other reason for the decline.


For more information regarding the Institute, contact Joan Schumaker-Chadde at 906-487-3341 or

Joan Schumaker-Chadde, Course Coordinator
Western U.P. Center for Science, Math & Environ. Education
105 Dillman Hall
Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Dr., Houghton, MI 49931
Tel: 906-487-3341 Fax: 906-487-1620

Contact the WUP Center