Keywords: canopy, evergreen, deciduous, coniferous, biotic, abiotic, photosynthesis, regeneration; Lesson Plan Grade Level: eighth grade; Setting: Reed's Gap State Park (Nature Trail)

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will observe and identify the various levels (zones) of the forest by name.
  • Students will observe, identify, and name a variety of forest components.
  • Students will describe interactions that occur in the forest ecosystem.
  • Students will describe how humans impact on the forest ecosystem.

Materials Needed

  • clipboards
  • pencils
  • data sheets
  • park trail map

State Standards Addressed: Watersheds (4.1); Ecosystems (4.6); Threatened, Endangered, and Extinct Species (4.7); Humans and the Environment (4.8)

Subjects Covered: ecology, biology, chemistry, physics, history

Topics: forest ecology, botany, chemical reactions, energy flow, park history, biodiversity

Teaching Model: Traditional


  1. Students will have read about forest biomes prior to the trip.
  2. Vocabulary will have been introduced, defined, and reviewed.
  3. Biological processes that commonly are associated with the forest biome are studied in previous units on botany and zoology.
  4. The teacher will have walked the trail prior to the trip and prepared a "tour" package for students.


  1. Students arrive in the park.
  2. Class gathers on lawn by pool house.
  • Distribute clipboards, pencils, data sheets and trail maps.
  • Introduce the park
    • History of the park (McClennahen's farm)
    • Age and establishment of the park
    • Honey Creek and the Juniata Watershed
    • The Reed's Gap Trail System
  • Walk to the large Trail Map exhibit at the park entrance.
  • Show the Hummingbird Trail in relation to the other park trails.
  • Walk the Hummingbird Trail.
    • Stop at predetermined areas for questions, discussions, review and application of concepts and vocabulary.
  • Students complete data sheets which include items related to:
    • Habitat (types and importance of)
    • Photosynthesis (significance and process of)
    • Zones (name, location, and importance of)
    • Deciduous versus coniferous
    • Biotic versus abiotic
  • Points of interest
    • Solar panels
    • Juniata Watershed
    • Jack dams
  • Assessment

    Each student will contribute data to a discussion board at the end of the walk. This process will allow students to "see" things they missed on the hike that were observed by others. An oral discussion will ensue in which students will be asked a variety of application questions that will demonstrate their ability to use vocabulary in proper context.


    1. Students will individually find a quiet spot in the park to work alone.
    2. The boundaries will be established by the teacher.
    3. Students will then open a prepared envelope with a question in for them to respond to.
    4. The questions will be related to positive and negative issues concerning human impact on the forest ecosystem.
    5. Students will also be asked to relate their personal feelings about the relevance of the forest to their lives


    Alex Fox, Mifflin County School District