Pedagogy in Action > Library > Campus Living Laboratory > Campus Living Laboratory Examples > Biodiversity Count

Biodiversity Count

Suzanne Savanick, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College,
This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.


In this class exercise, students count the number of species they can find in a five minute block of time in both an urban lawn and natural, remnant forest area. The students are introduced to the concept of low and high biodiversity areas and engage in a discussion about biodiversity loss.

Learning Goals

Students will begin to recognize low and high biodiversity areas and understand what affects biodiversity loss.

Context for Use

Description and Teaching Materials

No special materials are needed for this activity.

Teaching Notes and Tips

  1. Have students break into groups of 3 to 4 people.
  2. Move students outside to an urbanized area, but one with some green space, such as trees or grass. Have students count the number of species that they can find in a five minute block.
  3. Reassemble large group. Have student groups tell the group the number of species counted.
  4. Move to a naturalized area. (In this class, we moved to a "natural" city park within walking distance from campus).
  5. Have students repeat the count.
  6. In our class, we found that the students were overwhelmed by the number of species in the natural park.
  7. We used this as a teachable moment to discuss how the whole area used to look like the park before development; this type of biodiversity loss is happening worldwide.


Have students write a one page reflection on biodiversity.

References and Resources

The biodiversity section of Action Bioscience includes information about biodiverity and educator's resources (including power point presentations, overheads, and worksheets).

The Biodiversity Project has introductory information about biodiversity that was set up for the media and a good list of resources.

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