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  • Health
  • Environmental Justice
  • Climate Science
  • Sustainability

Regional Focus

  • Global

Human Impacts on Earth Systems

Authors: The Wonder of Science, Paul Andersen
Grades: K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Subjects: Science, Biology, Earth Science
Format: YouTube Video
Resource Type:
  • Video, 6 minutes, 26 seconds
  • This video describes the many ways humans impact the Earth and what topics could be covered at different grade levels.
  • The first 4 minutes and 41 seconds are appropriate for some students to watch and the last segment discusses the grade-level appropriateness of each topic and provides teaching suggestions for different grade levels.
Teaching Tips


  • This video provides a good overview to start a lesson on the many ways humans impact the planet and it provides suggestions for teaching students at all grade levels.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The beginning of the video is only appropriate for some grades, as it is likely too advanced for young learners.
  • At 3 minutes, 0 seconds, Paul says, "We're increasing the amount of fossil fuels we put into the atmosphere." That is incorrect. He means greenhouse gases, not fossil fuels.
  • Stopping the video at 4 minutes and 41 seconds is suggested if showing it to your class.


  • Cross-curricular connections could be made with history and social studies classes when discussing the advancements made in our standards of living and how population and development have rapidly increased over time.
  • Students could work in groups to come up with sustainable solutions in each category: geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, or identify overarching solutions.
  • Other resources related to this topic include the Drivers of CO2 Emissions and Google Earth Timelapse.
Scientist Notes
Students can learn the basics in sustainability and ways to protect the earth's natural resources from overexploitation. There is no misconception in the resource, and it is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.*
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • K-ESS3-3 Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the land, water, air, and/or other living things in the local environment.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 5-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.*


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  • This really provides a complete overview, connecting the dots!
    2 months ago


  • How do I get a copy of the full lesson? Human Impact
    2 months ago
    • Hi there. Unfortunately, there is no accompanying lesson plan with this resource. The resource is only the video. You can check out the teaching tips above for resources closely related to this lesson.
      2 months ago