Biodiversity Boxes

Many effective and creative educators have developed curriculum and activities for DLIA, many of which take place right here in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Education is essential to promote an understanding of biodiversity and to highlight the importance of the ATBI.

However, the Smoky Mountains may not be accessible by many teachers and groups wanting to participate in the education programs offered here. The DLIA Education Committee has developed a series of "Biodiversity Boxes" for teachers or groups who would like to implement an education program about biodiversity. 

There are five boxes, each with a different focus - an introduction to biodiversity, forest life, high elevations, wet places and microhabitats. The boxes were originally developed for middle school classrooms, but can easily be adjusted for any group willing to explore biodiversity. The boxes include all of the equipment, materials and information needed to conduct the activities. The activities can be a series of sessions or rearranged to suit your program or classroom. 

If you would like to request more information or to check out a Biodiversity Box, please call us at (865) 430- 4757. If you would like to check out a Biodiversity Box online, please fill out our Loan Request Form. (To find out more about each specific box, including the inventory, activities, and the state science standards that are met, simply click on the title of the box.)

An Introduction to Biodiversity Download See .pdf file

Activities focus on answering "what is biodiversity?" To answer this, students develop an interactive food web, practice classification and generate a hypothesis before inventorying their own school yard. 


  1. Kit information binder
  2. Peterson First Guides: Insects
  3. Net
  4. Leaf litter sifters
  5. Mallot
  6. Measuring tape
  7. Aspirators
  8. Plastic Stakes
  9. Wooden Stakes
  10. Rulers
  11. Umbrellas
  12. Plastic, miniature animals
  13. Plastic thermometers
  14. Forceps
  15. Mini nets
  16. Underwater viewers
  17. Small containers

Forest Life Biodiversity Download See .pdf file

Activites focus on the importance of the natural forest ecosystems in the Park, as well as that of urban forests.  Students learn how to identify particular tree species.  They also learn how foresters assess the general health of individual trees and of natural forests.


  1. Dichotomous leaf key
  2. Common leaves and seeds
  3. Paintbrushes
  4. Measuring tape
  5. Life in the Leaf Litter
  6. Books: Hands on Nature, Trees of the Smokies, Common Upland Hardwoods of Tennessee, Forest Health Indicators
  7. Activity Sheets: Invasive species, Tree circumference, Vocabulary, Leaf Key, How to make a trees of the Smokies scrapbook, Trees of the Smokies presentation guide
  8. Leaf identification kit
  9. T's
  10. Gloves
  11. Micro aquarium materials (glass parts wrapped in bubble wrap)
  12. Hand lenses
  13. Other Microaquarium matierals
  14. Plastic, miniature animals
  15. Yard sticks
  16. Kit Information Binder
  17. Materials for Forest Floor play

Microhabitats Download See .pdf file

By surveying microhabitat variables on their school grounds, students develop an understanding of the concept of a "microhabitat".  Other activities introduce them to some important, but unfamiliar, microhabitats that are common in the Park, including Fallen Logs and Leaf Litter.  Two potential data-sharing projects are presented -- one involving Leaf Litter Creatures and the other involving Leaf Miners and Gall Makers.


  1. Binder
  2. Books - Hands on Nature, Trees of the Smokies, Wildflowers of the Smokies, Amphibians of the Smokies and Life in a Rotten Log
  3. Aspirators, extra tubes and mouthpieces, forceps
  4. Light & moisture meter, field lenses, measuring tape, soil thermometer, ruler, instructions
  5. Soil testing kit
  6. Plastic, miniature animals
  7. Flags
  8. Script for a play
  9. Aspirator instructions
  10. Biodiversity playing cards
  11. Play materials

Wet Places Download See .pdf file

Activities focus on the diversity of stream life in the Park.  Consideration of the issue of Acid Rain encourages students to compare and contrast conditions in the Park with those in their local community.


  1. Binder
  2. Hardness test kits
  3. Macroinvertebrate collection kit
  4. Plankton net
  5. pH scale charts
  6. Discovery scopes w/chambers
  7. Sample bottles with eyedropper lids
  8. Hands on Nature activity book
  9. Coffee filters
  10. United States pH maps

High Elevations Download See .pdf file

Activities focus on the elevational variation in the Park and how it affects the distribution of species and ecosystems.  The issue of Ozone Pollution is explored, both as it relates to the Park and to the students' local community.


  1. Binder
  2. Bird anatomy charts
  3. Plastic, miniature figures
  4. Ferns of the Smokies field guides
  5. Reptiles and Amphibians of the Smokies field guides
  6. Wildflowers of the Smokies field guides
  7. ATBI CD
  8. Contour mapping kits
  9. Topographic maps
  10. Plastic cups
  11. Leaf rubbing plates

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