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The short film Tree Tender (2016) follows a young woman, Gaia, becoming the newest Tree Tender, learning about the Tree of Life, the connections between all organisms on the Tree, the importance of understanding these connections, and the human-caused mass extinction currently occurring.

Note: Please read 01 Tree Tender Curriculum Bundle.pdf first.

Each of these major concepts are highlighted in this bundle of educational resources appropriate for both K-12 and Undergraduate Education. All materials will assist in increasing critical thinking and communication skills while connecting current events, events from the film, and scientific knowledge.

The Guided Film Discussion and Socratic Seminar for older students allow for discussion amongst peers on the events of the film, issues on our planet, and how we can plan on becoming tree tenders in our daily life. The Socratic Seminar is a more involved and more suitable for older students, but gives them the opportunity to write their own questions and debate politely with their peers.

The Be a Tree Tender Matching Game is a short, traditional matching game for younger audiences (K-8) that matches real-world human-caused environmental issue to a potential solution, as highlighted on our Tree Tender Website.

Team Tree Tender is a group research project suitable for grades 6-12 and the undergraduate level, where groups of 3-4 students will report on a chosen ecosystem service, highlighting how we benefit, how we've affected it, and how we can help restore it, reporting on any relevant current events, allowing students an opportunity to collaborate and practice finding credible sources and presenting.

The final activity, Go Extinct!, is a three-part game for all age levels that utilizes active movement and collaboration to help students understand organisms are all related, share a common ancestor, and the effect we have on the planet. Students will be given an organism that they will represent for the entirety of the game. Activity 1 breaks students up by various characteristics (by biological classification, morphological characteristics, etc.), where students will move around the room based on what characteristics their organism has. Instructor can add more characteristics that fit their classroom level. Activity 2 has the students line up based on how similar their morphological characteristics are to one another (similar to a rudimentary character matrix). This activity highlights the presence of a common ancestor for all organisms, no matter how similar or different they may be. Activity 3 is an Anthropocene Extinction Simulation, where the instructor reads off cards of extinction events happening in each represented ecosystem. With the help of a volunteer Tree Tender, the students will have three chances to save various species from these real extinction events using solutions they come up with as a class.
Associated files
Primary or BEN resource type
Secondary resource type
General Biology Core Concepts
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
General Biology Competencies
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords Tree Tender, Ecology, Extinction, Tree of Life, Critical Thinking, Discussion, Ecosystem Services, Anthropocene Extinction, Simulation
Key taxa Plants, Animals, Fungi
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description Open-Ended Instruction, Differentiated Instruction through Active Learning, Co-operative Learning, Inquiry Learning, Experiential Learning, Integrated Learning, Peer Teaching
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author Allison T Bordini
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Soltis Lab in the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida
Primary Author email
Added By Id
  • abordini
Submitter Name Allison T Bordini
Submitter Email
Author retains copyright
Review type
Drought and Water Ecosystem Services Collection Off
Conservation Targets Under Global Change Collection Off
Big Data Collection Off
Editors Choice No
Resource Status
Date Of Record Submission 2018-09-12
Date Of Record Release 2019-02-14 08:54:09
Last Modified By Id
  • tmourad
Date Last Modified 2019-02-14 08:54:09
Release Flag Published

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