Lesson Plan

Extremophiles: Tardigrade Research Wrap-Up (North Carolina High School)

scanning microscope image of tardigrade
Dr. Diane Nelson, a tardigrade researcher who works in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, took this 3-D image of a Tardigrade using a scanning microscope.

Diane Nelson

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Grade Level:
Ninth Grade-College Undergraduate Level
Biodiversity, Biology: Animals, Earth Science, Ecology, Environment
30 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 60
National/State Standards:
North Carolina Essential Standards Earth/Environmental EEn. 2.7.2-2.7.3; Biology  Bio. 1.1.2, 2.2.1-2.2.2; AP Biology 1:01-1.04, 2.02, 2.03, 2.05, 7.01, 7.02; AP Environmental 1.01-1.04, 2.05, 3.02, 5.01, 5.02, 6.03, 7.04
tardigrade, biodiversity, all taxa biodiversity inventory, extremophile, Great Smoky Mountains National Park


This lesson allows students to further their knowledge about extremophiles.  This unit is broken into three parts. This unit involves a trip to the park and is accompanied by a preparation activity and  a wrap-up activity.  This is part 3 of the field wrap-up activity of the unit.


The students will be able to:
1) understand the definition and classification of extremophiles
2) be able to list examples of earthly extremophiles
3) create their own extremophile creation


Students were able to experience one type of extremophile during their field trip in the Smokies, the tardigrade. In this lesson students are able to explore in more depth other examples and classifications of extremophiles. Additionally this lesson allows for discussion on how people must adapt to living in extreme environments and different time periods and how inventions have changed those living conditions.
Teachers coming on the accompanying field trip should download our complete field trip packet that includes this Tardigrade Research Preparation pre-site lesson, information and directions about the field trip and the Tardigrade Research Wrap-up post-site lesson.

Download the full Tardigrade Research Field Trip packet here (includes Preparation and Wrap-up lessons).
Link to the Tardigrade Research Preparation lesson
Link to the Tardigrade Research Wrap-up lesson



To complete the activity in the wrap up activity, you will need the following:

Computer with internet connection
Colored pencils, crayons, or colored markers
Blank paper



Students can create a concept map for the subject of "tardigrade" before starting the series of lessons. They can create a second concept map for comparison after the lessons. Did students show any gains in their organization of their knowledge; the use of concepts, content and terminology and connections; and knowledge shown between the relationships of concepts. Please see our concept map scoring rubric in the "Students as Scientists: Tardigrade Research" lesson 1 PDF for grading guidance.


Extremophile: an organism that thrives in and even may require physically or geochemically extreme conditions that are detrimental to the majority of life on Earth.

Last updated: April 14, 2015