NGSS Middle School

Next Generation Science Standards
(NGSS) – Aligned Programs for Middle School

2022 – 2023

Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust in Woodbury is a regional leader in environmental education.  We are pleased to offer three new programs for middle-schoolers to complement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Each of these NGSS programs is specifically designed to help prepare students to meet key grade-level performance expectations. Each can be incorporated into a unit plan or can stand as a self-contained lesson.

These 2.5-hour immersive field-based programs are not only fun, but engaging, hands-on and authentic in a classroom of nature’s design.

A summary of our middle school programs is below.

NGSS programming is offered through district or school contracts, with the aim of providing whole grade levels the opportunity to share a common learning experience. For further inquiries and contact information, scroll to the bottom of this summary document.


Cycling of Matter in a Pond Ecosystem Gr. 6
Students engage in a discussion of energy flow through food chains and the important role plants have in the process.  They visit a pond ecosystem, where in research teams, they collect, identify, and document the plant and animal life. They examine cells from collected pond plants under a microscope, identifying the chloroplasts where photosynthesis occurs. Teams then use provided references to construct a food web of their documented organisms showing the flow of energy through the pond ecosystem. In a final discussion students will consider consequences resulting from food web disruptions, and why a constant input of energy from light is needed for the ecosystem to be sustained.  Time frame:  2.5 hours.   Available for fall and spring scheduling.  NGSS connections:  MS-LS1-2, MS-LS1-6.

 Resource Availability and Wildlife Population Growth in a Forest Ecosystem Gr. 7
Students learn that how big an animal population can grow is limited by the resources available, as well as other factors, in the habitat.  They examine the relationship between the gray squirrel population and several oak tree species, producers of one of the squirrel’s major food sources. They learn basic tree identification, with an emphasis on local oak trees, and how to estimate an oak tree’s output of acorns by measuring its diameter. In research teams, students measure several trees in a designated study plot and use their data to determine the number of squirrels the trees can support.  How would this number change during periods of abundance or scarcity, and why?  What other factors might impact squirrel population growth?  How is the relationship between oak trees and squirrels mutually beneficial?  Time frame:  2.5 hours. Available throughout the school year.  NGSS connections:  MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-2.

Impact of Human Population Growth on Natural Resources Gr. 8
Human population growth impacts our environment in multiple ways.  More people means the need for more things like food and housing, leading to an increase in consumption of natural resources.  In this program, students engage in a discussion about human population growth then focus in on the impact that housing development has on the environment.  Investigative questions include: How many board feet of lumber are needed to build a typical house?  How do you measure the board foot volume of a tree?  Working in research teams, they visit a selected site in our forest, measure the board foot volume of multiple trees, then use their data to estimate the board foot volume of a 100 -acre forest.  Discussion questions include:  How many trees would need to be harvested to build one house, and what are the environmental impacts of that?  How sustainable is the timber industry in the United States?  What actions can be taken to minimize the environmental impacts of timber harvesting?  Time frame:  2.5 hours.  Available throughout the school year.  NGSS connection:  MS-ESS3-4.


Class size for NGSS field programs is approximately 25 students.  In most instances, two programs can be provided simultaneously.  The cost for each 2.5-hour field program is $18.00 per student.  A $350.00 minimum applies per program.

For questions regarding curriculum: please contact Eileen Reed, NGSS Program Coordinator at 203-233-9745 or

To register for a program: call Amber McDonald, Educator/Administrator, at 203- 263-3711, Ext. 12