• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Lesson Plans: Mathematics, Science & Technology

Classroom lessons are adaptable in length. Field expeditions require an entire school day.

Insects and Invertebrates
Classroom lesson: Students address common misconceptions about insects as they discover the diversity of life hidden in their own backyards through an interactive presentation, a 3-D slideshow and a hands-on identification activity with specimens collected on the Boston Harbor Islands.

Field expedition: Students use nets and beating sheets to trap and collect insects on one of the Boston Harbor Islands, following the protocol of Harvard University's All-Taxa Biodiversity Index (ATBI) in order to document and label specimens.

» Exploring Insect Life (PPT - 4.5Mb)
» 3-D Invertebrates Slideshow (PPT - 6.5Mb)
» Insect Inventory Worksheet (PDF - 145kb)
» Insect Tally Worksheet (PDF - 394kb)

Tide Pools
Classroom lesson: Students become acquainted with life in the intertidal zone by looking at images of tide pool organisms, examining shells collected from the harbor islands, and learning about the incredible adaptations seen in these animals.

Field expedition: Students investigate life in the intertidal zone equipped with buckets, nets, and identification keys to see what can survive beneath rocks and in shallow pools.

» Tide-Pool Worksheet (PDF - 140kb)

Invasive Species
Classroom lesson: Students are introduced to the principles of invasion ecology and the science of taxonomy as they learn about the impacts of exotic crabs in Boston Harbor.

Field expedition: Students become citizen scientists by setting up plots, quadrants and transects within the intertidal zone to collect crab data, following the protocol of ongoing academic studies on invasive species along the Atlantic Coast.

» Invasive Crabs in Boston Harbor (PPT - 5.4Mb)
» Invasive Crabs Quiz (PDF - 146kb)
» How to Identify Crabs (PDF - 193kb)

Salt Marsh Ecology
Classroom lesson: Students discover why these salt marshes are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth by examining the interdependence of species through interactive demonstrations and activities.

Field expedition: Students wade through the creeks of a salt marsh with rubber boots and dip nets to find evidence of the incredible diversity of life within.

» Salt Marsh Worksheet (PDF - 144kb)

Climate Change and Renewable Energy
Classroom lesson: Students make connections between energy use and the environment through interactive activities that explore the implications of climate change issues within their own lives and on the Boston Harbor Islands.

Field expedition: Students measure and visualize the impact of sea level rise on a favorite beach.

» Rising Seas Lesson (PDF - 1.1mb)

Did You Know?

A Path at Worlds End

Worlds End was a proposed site for the United Nations Headquarters in 1945 and a nuclear power plant in 1965. Now part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, it includes 251 acres of undisturbed grasslands and over 4 miles of footpaths.