Extinction STEM


Extinction STEM introduces students to the reasons certain species become extinct. Students will discover that the removal of one species can have dire consequences on other species in its ecosystem. They will also learn ways to protect plants and animals from extinction.

In the “Options for lesson” section of the classroom procedure page, you will find a suggestion to apply to this lesson. Begin your lesson by having someone from the local Department of Natural Resources speak to the students. You can also find a lots of good information on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services website that students can learn or read about.

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What our Extinction STEM lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Extinction STEM explores the concept of extinction and why certain species die out. Students will discover that there are often major consequences to an environment or ecosystem when a species becomes extinct. They will also learn ways that they can help protect animals or other species from extinction. This lesson is for students in 2nd grade and 3rd grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. This lesson simply requires writing utensils like pencils, pens, and highlighters.

Options for Lesson

The “Options for Lesson” section provides ideas for additional activities to add or incorporate into the lesson. This lesson provides one idea involving a way to start your lesson off. Younger students will not have a concrete idea of how many animals are endangered or extinct. One common misconception they have is that most of the extinct animals are from a long past era (e.g., the age of the dinosaurs) or are exotic animals that don’t live nearby. One way to avoid this misconception is to begin your lesson by having someone from the local Department of Natural Resources speak to the students. You can also find a lots of good information on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services website that students can learn or read about.

Teacher Notes

The paragraph on this page provides a little extra information on what you can expect from the lesson. It suggests showing the Learn Bright video on this topic sometime during the lesson. You could also teach this lesson at the same time as or before a lesson photosynthesis. Use the lines to write out your thoughts as you prepare.


The Extinction STEM lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one of these handouts will help students demonstrate their knowledge and will reinforce what they learned throughout the lesson. Use the guidelines on the classroom procedure page to determine when to give students each worksheet.


Students will use the supplies you provide to create an ecosystem in a glass jar. First, they will place a layer of sand or gravel, followed by a thin layer of activated charcoal. (The charcoal will help clean the ecosystem.) After adding a 3-inch layer of potting soil, students will plant either seeds or small plants, as well as earthworms if they can find them.

Next, they will add a small amount of water and seal the jar with the lid. They will then place the jar somewhere that allows for indirect sunlight. Students will observe the jar for the next few weeks. You could also have them bring in their jars after a certain period to see how their ecosystems are doing!

The bottom part of the activity worksheet has an extra task. Students will fill out a table that shows the total number of various species outside. They will look in their backyard or a park to find and count species of plants and animals.


For the practice worksheet, students will work with a partner to research a number of plants and animals that no longer exist. These include the dodo bird, Labrador duck, Tasmanian wolf, Hawaii chaff flower, and the golden toad. The list provides the year in which the species died off. Students will explain why the species became extinct in the empty box next to each one.


The homework assignment requires students to review two columns of pictures that represent two different ecosystems and food chains. Students will write the name of the species and the habitat in which they would find it. The page provides the example of a shark, which would live in a saltwater habitat.

Next, students will respond to the prompts at the bottom of the page. First, they will explain what happens to the other animals in the ecosystem if one of the species becomes extinct. Then they will explain if any of the animals in the column on the right could live in a different habitat.

Worksheet Answer Keys

The lesson plan document provides answer keys for the practice and homework worksheets. All the correct answers are in red to make it easy to compare to students’ work. There may be some variation in students’ responses on some of the prompts, but they should at least closely match the answer keys. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


2nd Grade, 3rd Grade


Science, STEM

State Educational Standards


Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.

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Will be using it this coming week. But love the lesson and that everything I need is in the packet