To explore the Everglades ecosystem using the Internet, to develop an understanding about conservation of resources in the context of the Everglades, to explore relationships between species and habitats, and to develop an understanding of how human beings have altered the equilibrium in the Everglades.
This lesson uses the Internet to explore the Everglades ecosystem using the resources on the Everglades National Park website, providing students with experiences that they may not be able to acquire firsthand. This investigation is most appropriate for a 9th or 10th grade biology class.
To motivate the students, provide them with the following list of “challenge” questions that can be answered by exploring these resources:
- Who is Ernest F. Coe?
- How big is the Big Cypress National Preserve?
- Which is the longest of the Long Pine Key Area trails?
- Shark Valley is one of the best places in the park to view which two Everglades species?
- About how long would it take to travel between Flamingo and the Gulf Coast along the Wilderness Waterway by canoe?
After students have explored some of the places on the map, have them use the Park Map to write a “diary entry” about a visit to the park.
Water and The Everglades
To begin the investigation of the Everglades ecosystem, have students read the following resources from the website:
Ask students to answer these questions as they read:
- Why is the Everglades called “a river of grass?”
- Is the Everglades still a free-flowing river? Why, or why not?
- Is the Everglades a stable ecosystem? Provide evidence to support your answer.
After students have completed the reading and answered the questions in writing, discuss the answers to the questions with the group.
Inhabitants of the Everglades Ecosystem
As an Internet activity, have students read about some of the many species of animals and plants that live in the Everglades. They can do this by following the Endangered Species and Animal Profiles links on the Everglades Ecosystem menu.
Ask each student to select a species, plant, or animal that lives in the Everglades and write a short article about it based on research they have conducted at the Everglades website. Students can also work in teams to complete this activity. Students can use these resources to do this activity:
In addition to describing the selected species, students should discuss whether or not the animal or plant they have selected is endangered, and if so, what is being done to protect it. Also, ask students to consider how other organisms might benefit or be harmed if the plant or animal they selected disappeared from the Everglades ecosystem.
The Everglades and Fire
Students should go to Fire Management. From there, students should read and take notes on the following one-page stories that relate to the topic of fire in the Everglades.
- A Historical Perspective
- An Ecosystem Management Tool
- Fire in Everglades National Park Ecosystems
- Fire Management Plan
- Fire Updates
After students have read the stories, ask them to work in groups to prepare a brochure that could be used by the Everglades National Park to inform park visitors about fire management policies. The brochure should discuss when fires might be allowed to burn and why, as well as when and why fires would be extinguished.
Conduct the activity called Where Have Our Plants and Animals Gone? In this activity (which should take about one 45-minute class period), students will work in teams to consider what would happen if a luxury hotel were to be built inside of Everglades National Park.
Give each student an opportunity to complete the What's Happening Here? activity sheet. Then have each group share their experiences with the class in the form of a town meeting to discuss the building of the resort.
Students can read more about Everglades Geology at the National Park Service website.
Students can create a multimedia presentation or a webpage that summarizes what they have explored in the activities or focuses on a specific topic covered in the lesson. For example, their presentation can provide information about the Everglades as an ecosystem or more detailed information about a particular species. Some students may wish to explore environmental science issues such as pollution or resource management.