Biodiversity is defined as a "variety of different species (species diversity), genetic variability among individuals within each species (genetic diversity), variety of ecosystems (ecological diversity), and functions such as energy flow and matter cycling needed for the survival of species and biological communities (functional diversity)." (Miller, T., 2003) One of the most threatening environmental issues that we face today is the accelerating loss of biodiversity.

  • computer with internet connection
  • wild classroom website
  • wild classroom - biodiversity question sheet
  • pictures of a living thing, everything from slime and bacteria to panda bears and lions. The picture should be small enough to tape onto students shirts. One different picture per student.
  • The value of biodiversity worksheet

Students will learn what biodiversity is and find out that our survival as a species depends on its preservation. They will explore the monetary costs of preserving biodiversity.

1. Have students answer questions while watching the video: (6min.)
  • Why did the ecogeeks pick Panama to talk about biodiversity?
  • What is biodiversity?
    • species diversity
    • genetic diversity
    • ecosystem diversity
  • Why is this important?
  • What comes from nature?
  • How can we protect biodiversity?
  • What kind of human activities have an effect on biodiversity?
2. Hand out an organism picture to each student and have them tape their organism on their shirt.
3. Hand out "The Value of Biodiversity" worksheet
4. Tell students they are given 3 million dollars to put towards the conservation of species and their habitats. Note that $9.7 million was spent on the conservation plan for the endangered northern spotted owl. The price of undisturbed rain forest habitat in South America is $35 an acre through the Adopt-an-Acre program sponsored by The Nature Conservancy.
5. Have students walk around to see all the different species in the classroom and decide on where, how and why they would spend their money to conserve a species. List them in order for highest amount to lowest.
6. Survey the class on their top choice organisms. Go around to each species to see who spent on what on each species and why.
7. Explore with the students why certain species were neglected.
8. Choose a plant or fungus species that was not well funded, and tell the students that it has just been discovered that this species has an extract that will give anybody straight A's if they drink it because it makes you know everything that you nee to know. Then tell them this plant can only grow in certain parts of the world.
9. Ask the class if anybody is willing to pull funds from one of their top ranked species towards conserving the habitat that this plants grows in.

Miller, T. (2003). Environmental Science. United States: Brookscole

Lesson was derived from: