Lesson Plan

Extremophiles: Tardigrade Wrap Up Activity Part 1 (North Carolina Middle School)

Scanning microscope image of a Tardigrade
Dr. Diane Nelson, a Tardigrade researcher that 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:
Sixth Grade-Eighth Grade
Biodiversity, Biology: Animals, Conservation, Earth Science, Ecology, Environment
45 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 60
National/State Standards:
North Carolina Essential Standards Grade 7 Science 7.L.1.2
tardigrade, extremophile, biodiversity, all taxa biodiversity inventory, biological inventory, inventory and monitoring, Great Smoky Mountains National Park


This lesson allows students to further their knowledge about extremophiles.  The overall unit is broken into three parts including a trip to the park, a preparation activity and two wrap-up activities.  This is part one of two of the field wrap-up activities of the unit.


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 lessons.

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 Part 1 and Part 2 lessons



This activity primarily uses resources available on the internet. 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 for grading guidance.


Teachers can have students pick a planet other than earth and have students create a story that describes how they have adapted to extreme conditions of that planet.


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