East Hamilton Middle High School


Course Description:

Ecology is a laboratory science course that enables students to develop an understanding of the relationships between natural and man-made environment and the environmental problems the world faces. Students explore ecological concepts through inquiry and modeling. There are three general sets of basic skills field biologists need to master which are addressed in this course:

  • field and taxonomic skills, such as identifying birds or plants, mapping, taking measurements, laying out transects and preparing specimens;
  • analytical skills, such as comparing vegetation at two different locations and drawing a conclusion about which is more diverse;
  • communication skills, such as preparing proposals and reports that effectively and clearly make the points you wish to make.

The campus ecosystem is utilized as a working laboratory where these skills are taught and practiced.  During the course students will:

  • Use a dichotomous key to identify the various species of trees on the East Hamilton School campus
  • Conduct a campus clean up and litter awareness campaign
  • Use various media to investigate and compare the various biomes of the world
  • Use photos and sounds to learn how to identify birds found on campus.
  • Participate in an ongoing biodiversity assessment of the campus ecosystem, creating a field guide to convey their findings.
  • Assist in the construction and maintenance of the campus trail system and outdoor learning center.
  • Assist with the EHS recycling program.
  • Investigate the populations of invasive species present on the EHS campus and throughout Tennessee.
  • Investigate the relationship humans have with the environment.
  • Contribute to the Adopt a Stream data collection efforts by monitoring the water quality of Hurricane Creek throughout the year


Due to the nature ecology and field studies, students can expect to spend about 80% of the course outdoors.  Just as with field biologist and naturalists, weather is not a hindrance to accomplishing the tasks at hand and students are expected to dress appropriately for the weather.  You will get dirty; you will see and study insects, reptiles, birds, mammals and amphibians; you will sweat, get cold and possibly get wet most importantly you will learn about the relationships organisms have with each other and their environment.

*Each student is required to pay a $25.00 science material fee.



Required Course Materials (these are required in class each day)

Composition books for journaling and observations

Loose Leaf Notebook

Sketch pad for observations

Ink pens (black or blue only)

Pencils or Mechanical Pencil

Recommended and suggested materials and equipment

Water resistant shoes/boots

Rain coat/rain suit

Bug repellent



Season appropriate outdoor outerwear

Water bottle




A handheld magnifying lens

Container for specimen collection

Instructor Email, Phone and Course Website

Mr. Maples can be contacted via email – maples_ralph@hcde.org   telephone – (423)893-3535   ext. 51287.  Assingments will be posted to Google Classroom.

Methods of Instruction:

Cooperative group work, inquiry labs, modeling, demonstration, simulation, projects, individual online reading, lecture, critiques, journaling and reaction papers.


Major disciplinary core ideas utilized for Ecology:

Life Sciences

From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Process

Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

• Interdependent relationships in ecosystems

• Cycles of matter and energy transfer in ecosystems

• Ecosystems dynamics, functioning, and resilience

Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits

Biological Change: Unity and Diversity

• Natural selection

• Adaptation

• Biodiversity and humans

Earth and Space Sciences

Earth’s Systems

Earth and Human Activity

• Natural resources

• Natural hazards

• Human impacts on Earth systems

• Global climate change

Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science

Link Among Engineering, Technology, Science, and Society

• Interdependence of science, engineering, and technology

• Influence of engineering, technology, and science on society and the natural world

Course Outline and Learning Expectations for Ecology

The course will follow the sequence of units listed below.  Topics are grouped by what the class will cover within each quarter of the semester.


Quarter 1

Course Introduction and Expectations. Intro to Ecology


Climate and Terrestrial Biomes


Classifying Organisms


Obtaining Energy


Survival and Biodiversity


Populations and Limiting Factors


Population Growth Patterns and Rates


Habitats and Ecological Niches


Energy Flow in Ecosystems, Biogeochemical Cycles & Matter


Species Interactions


Quarter 2

Thermodynamics, Food Chains, Food Webs, Energy Pyramids


Primary & Secondary Succession


Biodiversity & Ecosystem Stability


Marine & Freshwater Biomes


Public Land's Role in Sustaining Biodiversity


Sustainability & Native Species


Impact of Personal Actions on the Environment


Grading Components:

1.  The grading formula for each nine-week’s grade is 50% Teaching tasks 50% Assessment and tests.

2.  The final grade for awarding a Carnegie credit will be determined by the following formula:

First Semester Average……….42.5%

Second Semester Average…….42.5%

Final Exam…………………...15%


A quick note about late work and makeup work

Late work will be accepted the day after the original due date only.


Make-up work must be completed within five school days of the absence.  Assignments may be found on my Google Classroom.  Teacher may provide additional time if extenuating circumstances warrant.

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