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Environmental Factors and Environment Concepts

Initial perceptual naive misconceptions (any age)

Misconceptions (Explanations, Naive understanding, Misconceptions, or Perceptual responses)

  1. See misconceptions for animals and plants
  2. Resources are infinite.
  3. Plants and animals will always be on Earth because the life cycle will continue forever.
  4. Dirt and bugs are bad. They are not necessary for anything good.
  5. Everything can be recycled.


Concepts Beginning (preschool - 7 years)


  1. All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food.
  2. Other animals eat animals that eat the plants.
  3. Living organisms are found almost everywhere in the world.
  4. They are somewhat different in different parts of the world.
  5. Many materials can be recycled and used again.


Concepts Intermediate (7 years - 11 years)


  1. The world has many different environments, and distinct environments support the life of different types of organisms.
  2. Some organisms will survive better in different parts of the world and some will not.
  3. An organism's patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism's environment, including the kinds and numbers of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment.
  4. When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce, and others die or move into new locations. Organisms interact with other organisms in addition to providing food (seed dispersal, plant pollination, lichens).


Concepts Literate (11+)


  1. All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live.
  2. Some of these changes are detrimental to the organism or other organisms, and others are beneficial.
  3. Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments.
  4. Humans change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms. In all environments organisms compete with each other for resources, including food, space, water, air, and shelter in order to survive.
  5. Over time matter is transferred from one organism to another repeatedly and between organisms and their environment. This total amount of matter remains the constant even though its form and location change. Energy can be change from one form to another in living organisms (energy from oxidizing food).

See - Environmental health variables and human impacts

  1. Plant and animal populations outgrow environmental resources and become endangered or extinct.
  2. Human population grow greater than natural resources and require human intervention. (Anthropocene era)
  3. Agriculture replaces natural ecosystems.
  4. Freshwater is decreasing faster than it's being replentished.
  5. Nitrogen and phosphorus cycles are altered with farming and fertilizers.
  6. Ocean fish are being harvested faster than they are able to be replentished.
  7. Acidity of ocean and acid rain is increasing.
  8. Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing and climate change resulting from the greenhouse effect.
  9. Climate change

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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