Home » Education » School programs » In-school programs

In-school programs

We’ll come to you!

at school program

If your class cannot make it out to Harbison State Forest, have the program come to you! SC Forestry Commission Environmental Education staff have developed in-school versions of the environmental education programs offered at Harbison State Forest. All programs are aligned with South Carolina 2021 Science Standards. These FREE programs typically last an hour per class and have been modified so they can be completed on your school grounds. Multiple classes can rotate through the program, and a schedule will be made specifically for your school.  SCFC Education Staff can travel within an one hour radius of Columbia, SC for in-school programs.
For more information, or to reserve your school’s date and time, please contact Environmental Education Coordinator Matt Schnabel at mschnabel@scfc.gov or (803) 896-8892.

Program descriptions


Program 1: Forest Plants’ and Animals’ Needs for Survival
K-LS1-1. Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

Students will examine the structure of a tree and how different parts of the tree help it function. Through plant personification, students will act out parts of a tree and the lifecycle of a tree. They will discuss a tree’s role in the ecosystem at each stage of its life. Students will investigate a forest ecosystem, identify signs of animals, and describe how the habitat meets the needs of the animals living there.

Program 2: Forest Ecosystem Interactions

K-ESS3-1. Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants or animals (including humans) and the places they live.

K-PS3-1. Make observations to determine the effect of sunlight on Earth’s surface.

Students will learn about the sun’s effect on nonliving and living components of an ecosystem and how temperature and sunlight affect plant and animal growth and behavior. They will learn about the basic needs of plant and animal life and then participate in a modeling simulation that illustrates what happens to a population in a forest community when there is a competition for resources. They will learn that habitats have limits to how many plants and animals can survive in a given space. 

First Grade

Program: Lifecycles, Growth, & Survival of Forest Organisms

1-LS1-2. Obtain information from multiple sources to determine patterns in parent and offspring behavior that help offspring survive.

1-LS3-1. Make observations to support an evidence-based claim that most young are like, but not exactly like, their parents.

Students will learn how plants survive, grow through different life stages, and how they respond to changes in their environment. By modeling the parts of a tree and creating a “tree factory,” students will learn about the structure of a tree and how those structures help a tree survive. Students will identify the growth stage of a chosen tree and identify relationships between it and other organisms.

Second Grade

Program: Diversity of Life in Diverse Habitats

SCFC In school program

2-LS4-1. Make observations of plants and animals to compare patterns of diversity within different habitats.

Students will discover and describe different forms of life in two different habitats, compare data, then conclude what factors influence both abundance and lack of diversity. They will explain the value of having a diversity of life forms in a particular ecosystem.

Third Grade

Program: Effects of Habitat Changes

3-LS1-1. Develop and use models to describe how organisms change in predictable patterns during their unique and diverse life cycles.

3-LS4-3. Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can thrive, struggle to survive, or fail to survive.

3-LS4-4. Make a claim about the effectiveness of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and affects organisms living there.

Students will learn about the life cycle of trees, examine cross-sections of trees, and infer from a tree’s rings what environmental conditions it might have experienced. They will become trees in a forest and learn how trees are affected by competition for resources and by natural or human-caused events. They will learn how changes are sometimes beneficial and sometimes harmful and synthesize a solution to mitigate the effects of a negative change to a forest community.

Fourth Grade

Program: Trees & Their Benefits for the Earth and Society

4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function together in a system to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

4-ESS3-2. Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans.

Students will learn about how different internal and external structures of trees allow them to survive and then build a model of a tree. Students will explore the environmental and economic benefits of trees on school grounds. Student groups will select a tree, measure its circumference, and assess its health. Then groups will work together to calculate the dollar value and the ecosystem services of the benefits provided by their trees using the i-Tree GIS software developed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Fifth Grade

Program: Ecosystem Interactions

5-PS3-1. Use models to describe that energy in animals’ food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.

5-LS1-1. Support an argument with evidence that plants obtain materials they need for growth mainly from air and water.

5-LS2-1. Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.

5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.

Students will learn about the flow of energy through the biotic components of ecosystems including producers, consumers, and decomposers. They will model how elements in the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere interact to sustain life. Students will examine cross-sections of a tree stump to learn about tree physiology and growth rates.

Middle and High School

Programs and speakers are available upon request.