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Population Education


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Biology, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans
  • Activity - Classroom, 20 minutes
  • Videos, 6 minutes, 30 seconds, CC

Regional Focus




Panther Hunt

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Population Connection

  • This fun and informative classroom activity teaches students about the concept of carrying capacity by role-playing panthers hunting prey.
  • Students will get up move around the classroom, apply math skills, and learn how biologically diverse ecosystems can better support populations. 

Teaching Tips


  • This resource provides a thought-provoking and memorable experience for students, which will surely give them a great, age-appropriate, understanding of carrying capacity.
  • This activity can be differentiated in many ways to accommodate learners at different levels or extend learning. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • The resource calls for 200 paper cups, but 200 small scraps of paper, lids, rocks, beads, or other materials would also work.
  • Students should have a basic understanding of the relationship between predators and prey in an ecosystem.


  • This resource would work best when working on science or math topics, but could also be applied to social studies topics, such as the carrying capacity of humans that also allows for other species to survive. 
  • Before completing the activity, have students predict what they think may happen and explain their ideas in writing or by a show of hands from a prompt.
  • After completing the activity and discussion, have students write a reflection on their learning. 
  • Older students could connect this activity to ecology, sustainability, civics, or ethics topics and discuss how changing habitats and climate conditions will affect population of animals and people.
Scientist Notes
The relationship between population and resource distribution, as well as how any changes would affect the carrying capacity of the environment, will be better understood by students once they complete this task. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • LS1: Structures and Processes
      • 4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
    • LS2: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics Within Ecosystems
      • 5-LS2-1. Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing one’s thinking clearly.
      • SL.3.3 Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering elaboration and detail.
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement and Data (K-5)
      • M.3.MD.B.3 Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step "how many more" and "how many less" problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs.
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