Apr 112013


Student will explore the idea of what ecosystem services are, focusing on the importance of plant’s root systems. A brief introduction to ecosystem services will be followed by an interactive demonstration illustrating a basic ecosystem service. Then students will have an opportunity to construct their own root systems and test out their designs to see how they fare in a heavy rain event. Finally, after conducting a month long experiment with different watering regimes, students will determine whether certain plants are more equipped to deal with drought and what makes them better. This is a highly interactive lesson that requires some preparation prior to implementation.


At the conclusion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Understand how healthy ecosystems provide valuable services
  • Distinguish between four different categories of ecosystem services
  • Understand the specific role of roots in providing services
  • Understand the differences in root systems between many native and exotic plants
  • Demonstrate the role of root systems in drought resistance

Length of Lesson

Introductory presentation: 15 minutes

Soil erosion demo: 10 minutes

Root building competition: 20 minutes

Drought experiment: 20 minutes

Grade Levels

Grades 6-12


Lesson Plan created by GK-12 Fellows Tyler Bassett, Dustin Kincaid, Jake Nalley, and Michael Kuczynski, 2013