Unit: Human Impact on Environment Grade 4 Standards

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Unit: Human Impact on Environment Grade 4


Standard 4: Students will understand and apply concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.
Key Idea 7: Human decisions and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environments.
Performance Indicator 7.1: Identify ways in which humans have changed their environment and the effects of those changes.
Major Understandings:

7.1a Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments.

7.1b Over time humans have changed their environment by cultivating crops and raising animals, creating shelter, using energy, manufacturing goods, developing means of transportation, changing populations, and carrying out other activities.

7.1c Humans, as individuals or communities, change environments in ways that can be either helpful or harmful for themselves and other organisms.

Essential Questions:

How do humans impact and change their environment?

How do all living things depend on their environment for survival?
How will the overuse of finite resources affect the way we live?
How has technology and industrialization both positively and negatively affected the environment?
Why have humans had such a negative effect on the environment?
How have humans contributed to Global Warming?
How can humans reverse some of the negative effects they have had on the environment?

Content (Students will know/ understand that…)

  1. All Living Things (Including Humans) Depend On The Environment For Survival

  1. Environment Has Resources For Survival Of Organisms:

  1. Air

  2. Water

  3. Food

  4. Space

  1. Humans And Resources:

1) Limited Resources (Earth has a finite supply of resources)

2) Although not the most numerous organisms on the planet, humans use more resources than any other organism.

3) The overuse of resources, can negatively affect the environment.

4) Renewable Resources vs. Non-Renewable Resources

  1. Important Resources That Are Used By Humans:

  1. Trees (used in building and manufacturing)

  2. Fossil Fuels (used to generate energy)

  1. Preserving Our Resources:

  1. Reduce

  2. Reuse

  3. Recycle

  1. Human Activities That Impact The Environment

  1. Technology & Industrialization

  1. Use of technology and machines to produce more products for humans.

  2. Technology and machines require energy.

  3. Power Plants – fossil fuels (coal , oil, natural gas) are burned to generate electricity to power machines.

  4. Fossil fuels are being depleted.

  5. Air is polluted due to the burning of these fuels.

  6. Humans have used technology to minimize their negative effects on the environment.

Examples: Solar Power, Wind Power, Fluorescent Light Bulbs, Hybrid Vehicles

  1. Overhunting

  1. Certain animals are being destroyed faster than they can be replaced.

  2. This leads to animals becoming endangered or extinct.

  3. Examples: Passenger Pigeon, Whales, Harbor Seals, Elephants

4) Sanctuaries, Preserves, and Hunting Regulations are ways to maintain populations.

  1. Habitat Destruction

  1. Forests are often cleared so we can provide people land for farming, people places to live, and resources to use in building or manufacturing.

  2. Homes of organisms are destroyed leading to organisms becoming endangered or extinct.

  3. Examples: Destruction of the Amazon Rainforest

  1. Introduction of Non-Native Species

  1. New species outcompete native species for resources.

  2. This leads to a decline in the number of native organisms.

Examples: Zebra Mussels, European Rabbit

  1. Types of Pollution Caused By Human Activities

  1. Air Pollution

  1. Burning of fossil fuels pollutes the air with large amounts of carbon dioxide.

  2. Burning of fossil fuels also causes acid rain.

  1. Water Pollution

  1. Rivers, lakes, oceans are easy places for people to dispose of wastes from factories, homes, and farms.

  2. Chemicals dumped into waterways can cause damage to all living things.

  1. Global Atmospheric Changes

  1. Global Warming

  1. Caused by large amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels.

  2. Earth’s average temperature is rising and this could lead to changes in climate patterns.

  3. Can lead to the melting of the ice caps at the North & South Poles.

  4. Melting of polar ice caps can lead to flooding of coastal areas.

Skills (Students will be able to…)

  • Students will identify the important resources required for living things and explain why humans need these resources.

  • Students will be able to distinguish between renewable and non-renewable resources.

  • Students will be able to explain why humans use more resources than other organisms.

  • Students will discuss ways humans can help preserve resources.

  • Students will analyze alternative energy technologies.

  • Students will examine human activities that have negatively impacted the environment.

  • Students will read articles, books, and visit websites that are related to human impact on the environment.

  • Students will simulate an oil spill in the ocean, discuss its negative effects on the environment, and develop ways to remove the oil.

  • Students will be able to explain the relationship between air pollution and global warming.

  • Students will be able to describe some of the negative effects of global warming.


  • Science Journal Entries

  • Current Events Article Summary

  • Multiple Choice / Short Answer Test

  • Project


  • Green Teacher Magazine

  • STEM Lab Library

  • Discovery Education Science

  • EPA Global Warming Site (www.epa.gov/climatechange)

  • Environmental Defense Fund (www.edf.org)

  • National Wildlife Federation on Global Warming (www.nwf.org/globalwarming)

  • PowerKids Press (http://www.powerkidslinks.com/faf/enviro)

Essential Vocabulary

  • Acid Rain

  • Carbon Dioxide

  • Coal

  • Deplete

  • Endangered

  • Environment

  • Extinct

  • Finite

  • Fossil Fuels

  • Global Warming

  • Habitat

  • Industrialization

  • Invasive

  • Native

  • Natural Gas

  • Non-Native

  • Non-Renewable Resources

  • Oil

  • Overhunting

  • Power Plant

  • Preserve

  • Renewable Resource

  • Runoff

  • Sanctuary

  • Species

  • Technology

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