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Virtual field trips

On-demand virtual field trip: Forest Ecosystems at Harbison State Forest (YouTube)

Designed for the 3rd-5th grade, students will learn about forest organisms, the flow of energy through ecosystems, forest management, plant and animal adaptations for survival, and the conservation of natural resources. An accompanying student page can be downloaded here.

Matt virtual stream

LIVE virtual field trip programs

SC Forestry Commission Education staff have developed virtual field trips of the environmental education programs offered at Harbison State Forest. These live forest hikes are an engaging way for students to learn about forestry and natural resources. All programs are free, typically last around 30 minutes, and include a student worksheet to be completed during the hike (except kindergarten). It is recommended that these programs are streamed while in the classroom and students are encouraged to ask questions. Microsoft Teams is the preferred platform for these virtual field trips, but another platform can be requested by the teacher. Programs can be scheduled on consecutive days to allow all students to attend who are in the classroom on alternating days. All programs are aligned with South Carolina 2021 Science Standards.

For more information or to book a program, please contact SCFC Assistant Environmental Education Coordinator Beth Foley at (803) 896-8855 or bfoley@scfc.gov.

Program Descriptions

Beth virtual stream


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. They will investigate a forest ecosystem, identify signs of animals, and describe how the habitat meets the needs of the animals living there. Learning can be extended by drawing and labeling the organisms found on the forest hike.

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 trace the transfer of energy from the sun to plants then animals through a food chain. Learning can be extended by “adopting” a tree at their school and tracking the seasonal changes through the school year.

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. 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.

Second Grade

Program 1: Earth’s Natural Systems and Humans’ Role

2-ESS1-1. Use information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur rapidly or slowly.

2-ESS3-1. Design solutions to address human impacts on natural resources in the local environment.

Students will learn about fire ecology and see a burn demonstrating the 3 elements needed to construct a fire. They will discuss the forest health benefits of prescribed burning as well as how it can reduce the risk of wildfires.

Program 2: Diversity of Life in Diverse Habitats

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.

Students will examine cross-sections of trees and infer from a tree’s rings what environmental conditions it might have experienced. They will learn how plants grow through different life stages and how they respond to changes in their environment. Students will draw the lifecycle of a longleaf pine and discuss how it had adapted to survive in a fire-managed ecosystem.

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. They will discuss the social, environmental, and economic benefits that forests provide us. Students will see a demonstration of how trees can reduce our energy costs and reduce stormwater runoff.

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.

Students will explore the piedmont habitat at Harbison State Forest and learn how biotic organisms interact within an ecosystem. Students will investigate food webs and the flow of energy through a forest ecosystem. They will participate in a scavenger hunt to find producers, consumers, and decomposers then create a food web with the discovered organisms.

Middle and High School

Programs and speakers are available upon request.