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Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT) WarmUp Activity: Darwin's Garden

Laura Guertin, Penn State University Delaware County
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1) Why does biodiversity in an ecosystem "matter"?

2) Describe Darwin's garden experiment and the significance of it.

3) So Darwin figured out the connection between biodiversity and ecosystem health - back in the 1800's. But scientists have only been studying the connection between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning for approximately 10 years. Why do you think Darwin's experiment was "forgotten" all these years? Why do you think it took this long for modern-day scientists to make the same connection Darwin did years and years before?

Student Responses:

See the Just-in-Time Teaching page on assessment for information and ideas on how to evaluate student responses.

References and Notes:

Articles that students may be assigned to read for this set of questions include (but are not limited to):

Was Darwin Influenced by Experiment in English Garden?, National Geographic News, February 2002.

The use of Just-in-Time Teaching is discussed in detail on the JiTT Starting Point page.

Additional information on JiTT is available in the book:


Biology:Diversity, Environmental Science:Ecosystems:Ecology, Biology:Ecology:Principles, Environmental Science:Ecosystems:Biodiversity

Resource Type

Activities:Classroom Activity:Just in Time Teaching

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use

Earth System Topics

Biosphere, Diversity, Ecology


Biosphere, Time/Earth History


Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science