Distance Learning

Canyon Connections: 5th - 8th Grade

Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Science,Social Studies
State Standards:
Next Generation Science Standards

Arizona State Education Standards

Program Details


Please check Grand Canyon National Park's distance learning landing page for open registration periods.


5th – 8th


30 – 45 minutes


Science, Ecology

Essential Question

How do changes in the environment shape relationships and interactions between living and non-living things?

Lesson Overview

Canyon Connections program explores the relationship between living (biotic) and abiotic (non-living) in three Grand Canyon ecosystems. Participants will be asked to make observations as they investigate interactions between living and non-living and understand how these interactions shape adaptations for survival. Participants will sketch riparian, desert and ponderosa pine ecosystems as they think about interactions and their own interactions with the natural world.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand that ecosystems are shaped by the interactions between biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem
  • Define and provide examples of biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem
  • Understand that Grand Canyon has unique life zones as a result of changes in elevation, precipitation and temperature
  • Abiotic and biotic interactions result in adaptations of living things in each ecosystem

Next Generation Science Standards

5th Grade

  • 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment

Middle School

  • MS-LS2-2: Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
  • MS-LS2-3: Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.

Arizona State Science

5th Grade

  • 5.L3U1.10: Construct an explanation based on evidence that the changes in an environment can affect the development of the traits in a population of organisms.

6th Grade

  • 6.L2U1.13: Develop and use models to demonstrate the interdependence of organisms and their  environment including biotic and abiotic factors.

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect: Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems
  • Patterns: Patters can be used to identify cause and effect relationships
  • Energy and Matter: The transfer of energy can be tracked through a natural system
  • Stability and Change: Small changes in one part of a system might cause large changes in another part

Key Vocabulary:

  • Ecosystem
  • Adaptation

Last updated: November 20, 2023