Exploring Diversity with Ecosystems (6-8)

Diversity Beans - Exploring Diversity with Ecosystems Lesson Plan (Grades 6-8) 

Objective: Use Biomes/Ecosystems to explore diversity.

Materials Required: Approx. 1.5 oz of Diversity Beans per student.


A. Divide the class up into 6 groups and assign each group a biome (ecosystem) to study. Biomes to study include Mountains, Tundra, Temperate Forest, Marine/Island, Desert, Tropical Dry Forest, Cold Climate Forest, Grassland, Savannah, and Tropical Rain Forest.

B. Have the students prepare a report on their biome including climate, plants/vegetation, animals, etc.

C. Assign each biome a color/flavor of Diversity Bean.

D. Have the groups list the major characteristics of their biome on the board including their bean color/flavor.

E. Ask the students to give examples of their biomes, discuss with the groups the boundaries of the biomes.

F. Discuss the difficulties in determining the boundaries and classifying each biome.

G. Ask the students what flavor they expect from their Diversity Beans.

H. Have the students taste one of their assigned beans. Ask the students who tasted their expected flavor. Record the results.

I. Ask the students what they would expect with the next bean. Record the expectations.

J. Have the students taste another Diversity Bean.

K. Ask the students who tasted the expected flavor and record the results.

L. Ask the students for their new expectations and record the results. Discuss with the students why their expectations are changing. Discuss whether the beans are a true indicator of the biome represented. Discuss whether color or flavor should be linked to the biome and why.

M. Discuss how the beans can be related to the real world found in the biomes. Return to the discussion on boundaries and the difficulty in defining transitions between biomes.

N. Discuss with the class the uniqueness of biomes. Discuss characteristics that transcend the boundaries of biomes.

O. Relate the characteristics of the biomes that transcend the boundaries to the characteristics of the Diversity Beans that transcend the color (flavor!).

P. Relate the characteristics of people to the biomes and beans. Discuss with the class which characteristics are easily seen in people and which are difficult to see.

Q. Ask the students if they characterize people based on appearance or labels (like the biomes). Discuss the difficulties in characterizing people based on appearance.

R. Have the students pick and taste Diversity Beans to reinforce the concept that you can't tell what's on the inside based on the outside. Relate this to people. Bring up the concept of diversity and discuss that diversity means that we don't judge people based on appearance, perceptions, or background. Discuss that diversity means we judge people on what's inside--how they act, their behaviors and their attitudes.