Curricula: Lesson Plans

Curricula: Lesson Plans


  • Motte Rimrock Reserve:  Flora: 
    2001 Teacher, Elizabeth Garcia
    Students become familiar with flora at Motte Rimrock Reserve, observe physical differences of organisms in their natural environment, make a class plant collection using a plant press, learn how to identify plants by making their own dichotomous key, and become familiar with plant terminology through the use of a dichotomous key to identify plants that have been collected.
  • Field Trip to San Bruno: A Journey Back in Time to an Aboriginal Prairie
    2001 Teacher, Mardi Sicular-Mertens
    Students contrast a weedy annual grassland of introduced species with an undisturbed, ancient plant community of native bunchgrasses and wildflowers.  Lesson plan can be modified to include any native prairie in California.
  • Native Plants Scavenger Hunt
    2000 Teacher, Glenda Pepin
    Students recognize various California Native species by their physical appearances and characteristics.
  • Dune Plant Adaptations
    2000 Teacher, Michael Collins
    Students will locate the species of plants at Coal Oil Point Reserve and describe the different adaptations used by plants in their specific area of the dunes.
  • Native Plant Restoration Project
    2001 Teacher, Tania Kim
    Students will work in groups in the field to restore a natural habitat and learn to appreciate the natural resources in their own backyard.
  • Plant Restoration Project
    2000 Teacher, Deanna Smith-Turnage
    A long-term plant restoration project involving collecting seeds from the reserve for growth in the classroom, undertaking a scientific study in the classroom, transplanting seedling back at the reserve, and observing plant growth at the reserve. 


  • Roadkill Museum
    2001 Teacher, Debolina Dutta
    Students will learn about the anatomy and physiology of local mammals and birds.  They will learn taxidermy, a marketable skill, and a comfort in working with animals and dissection.
  • Harlequin Bug Observations
    2001 Teacher, Tania Kim
    Students will develop their field observations skills and participate in the process of science from coming up with a question to writing up a report and peer editing.  This lesson is designed to be a very open ended lesson-with teacher guidance but not necessarily a lot of structure. This can be an individual project or a cooperative learning activity. 
  • Aqautic Insects:  Water Quality Index & Diversity Index
    2001 Teacher, Debolina Dutta
    Students will learn about the adaptations, niches, and the life cycles of the common stream insects. They will find the water quality index and diversity index of creeks or streams.  Working collaboratively with other students, they will explore creeks and streams and learn to see the vast diversity of organisms within a stream. 
  • Amphipod Ecology
    2000 Teacher, Michael Collins
    Students will count amphipods from the sand under kelp wracks that have been on the beach for different periods of time in order to learn the ecology and food chain hierarchy at the surf zone.
  • Hermit Crab Housing
    2000 Teacher, Michael Collins 
    Students will learn about ecology, carrying capacity and competition while collecting data on shell distribution for hermit crab housing. 

Ecological Awareness

  • Roads and Plant Diversity
    2001 Teacher, Mardi Sicular-Mertens
    Students will gain understanding of human impact on the environment, and of interactions between development and the natural community.  Students will develop skills in qualitative and quantitative observation, and learn to gather, analyze, and graph data.
  • Tidepool Island Biogeography
    2001 Teacher, Tania Kim
    Students will get hands on experience testing island biogeography ideas by comparing diversity and abundance of rocky inter-tidal patches. Depending on the grade level and time in depth background lessons of inter-tidal species can be added before the students come out to the tidepools.
  • ACTION (Awareness & Connection Through Intimations Of Nature)
    2000 Teacher, Farr Niere
    This is a series of lesson plans designed to increase the ecological awareness and connection of participants through nature’s intimations. 
  • 20 Questions:  a lesson plan designed so students can make observations of their natural environment; and then, ask questions that are testable or can lead to a the concept of hypothesis development.
  • What’s Up at the Rim?:  Deanna Smith-Turnage a Scavenger Hunt lesson plan designed so students can sharpen their observation skills, learn to identify certain plants and animals, and keep an observation journal.

Scientific Method/Process

  • Secrets in a Grain of Sand
    2001 Teacher, Greg McBride
    What can we learn by examining the sand on a beach?  Students will learn to use a variety of skills and an interdisciplinary approach to discover as much as they can rather than just trying to find a “right” answer.  Students will apply previous knowledge about geology, identifying minerals, erosion and weathering, ocean currents and waves, geography and map reading, in their study of sand.  Students will realize that they can use their own experience, skills and knowledge to investigate a habitat and learn without getting facts someone else discovered from a text.
  • Jepson Prairie Preserve Research Project
    2000 Teacher, Jim Johnson
    Student teams will design, research, analyze and report on a field research project of their own choosing.
  • Carousel
    2000 Teacher, Deanna Smith-Turnage
    This carousel brainstorming exercise is designed to help students dispel certain basic misconceptions about science.
  • Field Notes
    2000 Teacher, Jim Johnson
    Students will observe and describe their surroundings in an outdoor environment using a standard field note format.

    Designing a Scientific Study:  Students will define a question, then undertake a scientific study to answer the question.