Biomes in a Box

Anne McDonald and Michael O'Hare
1991 Woodrow Wilson Biology Institute


Students will construct a model of a biome which will illustrate the various biotic and abiotic factors unique to that biome.


Students are asked to build a three-dimensional model of a biome in a box (larger than a shoebox) using everyday materials. Included in the model should be representative examples of flora and fauna, and it should show the terrain (mountainous, flat, shoreline, etc.). The inside walls of the box should be decorated (painted, collaged with photos, etc.) . Taped onto one side of the box should be a written description of all of the characteristics of the biome (elevation, precipitation levels, temperature , flora, fauna, etc). Taped onto the other side of the box is a world map indicating (by color, outline, etc.) the locations of this biome.


  1. Creative writing:

    • Choose an animal or plant in your biome of study that you might like to become. Write an autobiography about yourself as that organism in which you tell about your life history from birth or germination to death. Describe your interactions with abiotic and biotic factors in your environment. Include a discussion of your daily routine.

    • Explain WHY you chose the biome and the organism that you wrote about.

  2. Interdisciplinary Project: Each student will identify a national park located in the biome he chose. He will write to the National Park Service, Department of Interior, Washington, D. C., requesting brochures, maps, photos, and information on the history, geology, climate, wildlife, recreational opportunities, points of interest, and man's influence on the ecosystems there. This information should be supplemented with library research, interviews of individuals who have toured the park, attendance at local Sierra Club or Greenpeace meetings, etc. The student will present a skit where he will play the role of either :

    • a travel agent who designs a promotional campaign that must be presented to a large audience (your class), convincing them to book their summer vacations in that park, or

    • a forest ranger who is giving a comprehensive tour of the park to a group of tourists from a large city.

  3. For advanced students: Play the "SimEarth -- The Living Planet" computer game distributed by Broderbund software and available for MacIntosh and IBM computers.

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