Overpopulation impacts many aspects of our lives and middle schoolers typically aren't aware of the consequences their actions have on the planet. Here you'll find free resources that are engaging, and hopefully, it gets them thinking about the negative effects that some behaviors have on the environment and that preserving our environment is not easy to do.
1. Population Introduction
Before students can explore overpopulation, they need to understand what population is. National Geographic lays it out in a way that kids can easily understand and explore why some areas are more densely populated than others.
Learn More: National Geographic
2. The Stork and the Grim Reaper
What happens when the birth rate exceeds the death rate? This lesson explores just that using colored water. It shows how the human population is rapidly expanding and can be done in person or virtually.
Learn More: Population Education
3. World Population Lessons
This resource really covers a lot involving overpopulation. There are 6 lessons that teach kids how we got to have 7.6 billion people on the planet, to how we are meeting human needs. They also talk about carbon footprint and what to do going forward.
Learn More: World Population History
4. Population Management
In this lesson, students will learn about grazing and herd population management in East Africa. Keeping their herd population at the proper rate prevents overgrazing and supports the entire community.
Learn More: Nature
5. Natural Resources Bingo
Playing this Bingo game will reinforce what natural resources are and leads to a discussion about what non-renewable resources are and how we can conserve what we have. They also learn what is used to make the everyday objects we use.
Learn More: Cal Academy
6. Effects of Mining
Two lessons about mining are found in this resource, which takes you directly to a Word document. The first lesson talks about aggregate mining and its impact on the environment due to human population and urbanization. The second lesson looks at the lifecycle of a mine and if it's possible to reuse the land after the mine is closed. These lessons really speak to the current population expansion impact.
Learn More: Conservation
7. Natural Resource Distribution
Students will learn that natural resources are not evenly distributed across the planet and how that impacts overpopulation in certain areas. Everything you need is included, with a FREE membership (seriously, it's free)! There's even a Google Docs Quiz. What a great resource.
Learn More: Generation Genius
8. Eradicate Poverty and Hunger
There is a comic that goes along with this lesson and activities that complete it. It breaks down economic disparities and why they occur in a way that kids can understand. It also shows how overpopulation leads to poverty and hunger.
Learn More: Earth Beat
9. The Water Project
This is a free download, that includes 5 lessons and activities to teach kids about places where they don't have clean water and then asks students to propose solutions for this problem. I love the hands-on activities included and that it challenges kids to think critically.
Learn More: The Water Project
10. Biological Carrying Capacity
How many of a certain species is the right amount in a given ecosystem? This lesson will demonstrate what that balance looks like by having students examine the population of musky fish. It helps them learn about population density as well.
Learn More: Into The Outdoors
11. Social Carrying Capacity
In this lesson, students will play a game that will help them understand how different stakeholders impact carrying capacity when some have too much say. It is such a delicate balance to keep carrying capacity in check and this activity will definitely demonstrate that. It's a good way to link human carrying capacity as well.
Learn More: Michigan Water Stewardship
12. Human Overpopulation Nearpod
What a nicely laid-out resource. There are videos, vocabulary, and discussion questions that lead to more in-depth thinking about the impact that overpopulation has on the planet. One response even calls for drawing and Nearpod is great to use with virtual instruction.
Learn More: Nearpod
13. Agriculture and Human Population Growth
Agriculture is an important part of society. This lesson will show students how agriculture is tied to population growth and will be able to trace agricultural expansion. While agriculture produces food, it also has harmful effects on the environment as well, which children need to understand.
Learn More: Cal Academy
14. Climate Change
15. Origins of Energy
Students will learn where different types of energy come from and the impact that each has on the environment while looking at the advantages and ethics surrounding each. Energy development is tricky since it can take a toll on the environment. Renewable and non-renewable resources are looked at, which is important for kids to learn about.
Learn More: UTexas
A printable game that teaches kids about energy choices and the costs associated with building each energy source. Most students will just think that the energy source with the least environmental impact is the way to go, without considering the cost to produce it. This game will help them understand this and can be made on Jamboard for virtual use.
Learn More: EPA
17. Energy Around the World
Students will present information in regard to the energy consumption-based continents. It's a fun and interesting way for kids to learn about the disparities in energy consumption worldwide. The depletion of resources is greatly impacting the world as we know it, making instruction about what to do to change it so important.
Learn More: Issuu
18. 3-Day Overpopulation Project
There are 3 days of social studies lessons with this link. Day one teaches students how to work together to conserve food. Day two teaches about different things that occur as a result of overpopulation and gets them into groups. Day three has students present solutions to the problems they discovered on day two. They get a good deal of information about overpopulation and its' associated problems.
Learn More: Social Studies Lesson Cols1
19. Town Planning
This would be a great culminating activity for students to complete. Kids have to think about everything that goes into creating a town and how to best lay it out. They need to make sure that it's liveable as well. While they could design it to meet their imagination, there are components that ground them.
Learn More: Twinkl
20. Population, Consumption, and the Global Economy
There are multiple lessons and activities here, which are broken into units. Some things may be left out or simplified for middle school students, but they will examine population growth, global economy, and overpopulation and then looks at solutions and how to take action. This is a great resource for population education.
Learn More: Resources 4 Rethinking