Lesson Plans

All the lesson plans that we have used for GALS are listed below and can be downloaded by clicking on the lesson plan name. We hope these lessons can serve as a useful resource to educators, both in the classroom and outdoors. We will continue to update this page annually as we create new lessons for GALS.

Almost all of these lessons were created by the GALS team for GALS. Maggie Radack, Katrina Herrera, Elizabeth Allen, and Emily Levy worked on all lessons. Katie Hanson, Emily Ury, Jackie Gerson, Emily Rains, Juliet Ryan-Davis, Mary Gianotti, Jackie Bangma, Valerie Soon, Marie Simonin, Jocelyn Hoye, Elliot Mamet, and Amelia Meier helped to write, edit, and workshop lessons. We also include below some lessons created by BEETLES (beetlesproject.org), a fantastic education resource for outdoor educators.

Lesson Description Estimated Duration
I notice, I wonder (from Beetles) Students will learn how to make observations, ask questions, and make connections. 30-45 min
Mini-investigation (from Beetles) Students will learn what a testable question is and conduct a mini-investigation of a testable question of their choosing. 1-1.5 hours
Geology 101/Shining Rock Students will learn about minerals and rocks as a resource, for humans and for ecosystems, through two activities: identifying minerals and different rock types while hiking to Shining Rock; and a group discussion focused on questions of conservation and human needs related to geologic resources in North Carolina. 2 hours
Geologic Hike/timescale Students will walk through Earth’s geologic time while hiking through the forest. Each event occurs at a certain distance from the starting point. At each major event, the students will explain what happened in Earth’s geologic time and North Carolina’s. 4 hours
Ecology 101 Students will learn about ecology and ecosystems through two activities: identifying biotic, abiotic, and cultural components while hiking; and simulating how limited resources affect animal populations. 1 hour
Evolution/Natural Selection Students will learn about evolution through a simulation of natural selection. During the simulation the students will draw histograms to analyze during the debrief/discussion period. 1-1.5 hours
Adaptations The students will learn what adaptations are, identify some potential adaptations, and create a novel organism that has creative adaptations suited to its environment. 1-1.5 hours
Environmental Economics & Values Valuing the environment depends on a various number of factors. Students will put a value to the environment and debate whether a new hydroelectric dam should be placed in a North Carolina county. 1.5 hours
Stats 101 Students will learn about population sampling, and they will measure and interpret average and variance of leaf sizes of different tree species. 1.5-2 hours
Alternative Facts and Graphs Students will learn how to assess data. The students will be given one of two graph that are misleading when viewed separately. They will see the full dataset at the end. 1 hour
Terrestrial Ecology Students will explore various terrestrial ecosystems with a series of field experiments designed to teach them about the terrestrial environment from the ground up using the concept of a “meso-ecotone.” Students will obtain data and present their findings to other group members. Whole day, 7.5 hours
History of Pisgah skit Students will read about the history of Pisgah National Forest, and then make a skit about its history to present. 1.5 hours
Aquatic Ecology Students will explore the aquatic ecosystem through conducting field experiments by looking at the stream chemistry, physical habitat and biodiversity within a stream. Students will obtain data and present to other group members their results. Whole day, 7.5 hours
SMART questions + Mini-investigation (from Beetles) Students will review what a testable question is and conduct a second mini-investigation of a testable question of their choosing 1 hour
Spider collection Students will collect and identify invertebrates (insects and spiders) at night. 1 hour
Tragedy of the commons This activity speaks on the use of the resources on Earth called the commons. Students will demonstrate the issues with individual and collective action through an activity
with goldfish, chopsticks and cereal. Sustainably fishing is possible when positive collective action is put to the forefront.
45 minutes
Forest management + town hall Students will learn about forest ecology and management. They will use a Tree ID book to identify species and use their sense of touch during a blindfold tree bark game. Lastly, they will conduct a town hall debate about managing the Pisgah Forest using role-play. 3-3.5+ hours
Night hike Students will go on a hike at nighttime to gain an understanding of the various senses and adaptations animals use at night to survive. The lesson includes using all 5 senses. 2 hours
Environmental Ethics/Justice In this lesson, students will be introduced to environmental justice by learning about the history of Environmental Justice in NC and through a Step Forward/Step Back activity. In-depth debrief discussion will follow. Students will also interpret visual representations of the environmental justice issue of CAFOs in NC. 1 hour(up to 2 hours with optional extension activity)
Environmental Politics The students will learn about environmental politics by creating and analyzing a power map related to the issue of CAFOs in NC. The students will determine who has the most/least power and how likely those people will agree/disagree with their goal. They will then create and analyze a power map related to a goal they want to accomplish collectively, and write a letter to a stakeholder. 1 hour