Conservation in Action

Earth Science Week U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Informative Text , Project , Article
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



The US Fish and Wildlife Service created this activity exploring Rachel Carson and her role as an activist for the resource management and conservation. Students read a Rachel Carson fact sheet and her "Conservation in Action" book. The links to both readings can be found at: They are asked a series of questions and then will create a presentation about Rachel Carson. In an extension activity, they read "Conservation in Action" and using guiding questions, create a second presentation and compare 1948 National Wildlife Refuge Services data to data from today. 

Another version of this activity can also be found at:

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • High School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-ESS3-3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.

Clarification Statement: Examples of factors that affect the management of natural resources include costs of resource extraction and waste management, per-capita consumption, and the development of new technologies. Examples of factors that affect human sustainability include agricultural efficiency, levels of conservation, and urban planning.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment for computational simulations is limited to using provided multi-parameter programs or constructing simplified spreadsheet calculations.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students do research into what resource management is and why it is important to manage and conserve our natural resources, but they are not being asked to create simulations into those relationships. Teachers could increase the strength of this performance expectation by having students create a simulation on resource use and management or have students perform a related activity. A possible activity could be "Go Fish"

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students are asked to read both a Rachel Carson fact sheet and her book "Conservation in Action" to create two presentations. The first presentation is about Rachel Carson's work. Suggestions for the presentation include a skit, poster, or powerpoint with guiding questions. The second presentation is an extension activity where students do additional research to compare the work of the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1948 and now. No suggestions as to the type of presentation are given, but students could choose to make a poster, powerpoint, or informative video.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The reading included in this lesson, Guarding Our Wildlife Resources, identifies why it is important to manage our natural resources. The reading focuses on birds. It discusses the importance of maintaining the habitats of migratory birds in all areas they are found. The focus is on the Migratory Birds Treaty of 1916. Carson also discusses how the Department of the Interior was responsible for regulating the hunting season of migratory waterfowl, such as ducks and geese. She talks about the impact of refuges on bird’s needs. Another section focuses on big game mammals of the United States. She discusses the impact on refuges set up for elk, bison, and antelope. A third focus is on the importance of multiple agencies and countries working together to mutually protect natural resources, such as fisheries.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students reach this crosscutting concept through the second activity. They are instructed to compare the National Wildlife Refuge Service in 1948 to today. By comparing how the National Wildlife Service manages our natural resources and how their policies have changed over the last 56 years, students will be able to see how we have tried to ensure that ecosystem changes we make, through hunting and land use, won’t lead to an irreversible result, possible extinction. The extended research activities build on this even more.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: While the introductory questions get students thinking about conservation and resource management, no specific phenomenon is presented to students. They are looking into the history of the conservation and resource management effort. In order to make this a stronger rating, students should be introduced to a specific phenomenon investigating resource management, examples could include fishing and hunting. Fishing and hunting would increase the rating as students explore how limits (tags) on how many animals a hunter is allowed during a season help maintain the population. Suggested extension activities, including deeper research and a possible visit to a Fish and Wildlife Service office would increase the rating by introducing phenomena to bring in more three dimensional learning. The three dimensions focus on communication. Support isn't provided for developing the practice of obtaining, evaluating and communicating information, but the questions encourage students to develop the Crosscutting Concepts. The Core Idea is also addressed is the lesson through the reading of Rachel Carson’s Guarding Our Wildlife Resources which includes several different sections focusing on birds, large game, and fisheries management.

  • Instructional Supports: While this begins to engage students in a scenario, resource management, that is important, no phenomena are presented to students (other than anything students discuss as part of the introductory questions) and the focus is mainly on the practice of obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. There is some area for differentiated instruction as students are allowed to choose the format for their presentations. Students can also choose to go beyond the suggested areas of study to go further in depth. Students could choose to look at the history of conservation and regulation of hunting or creation and monitoring of wildlife refuges. Again, extension activities, if done, would increase this rating as students would be exposed to real life situations and ability to use data to drive three dimensional learning.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The only assessments mentioned for students are two projects. No examples of suggested outcomes are offered so teachers must determine what the student outcome should be. No rubrics or suggestions are provided.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: A computer is required to access the Rachel Carson pamphlet "Conservation in Action, Guarding Our Wildlife Resources," but those can be accessed ahead of time and printed for the students. Students may also use computer programs to create their projects as well as to do research about Rachel Carson's life. Computers are just being used to access information and/or create projects so there really isn’t much interactivity involved in the activity.