2012 – The World’s A Place of Living Things


"Wetlands: a heaven of wildlife"

by Phoebe Chiu, Grade 3
Columbus, Ohio


"Exploring nature's beauty"

by Samantha Lee, Grade 4
Annandale, Va.


"Life Link"

by Lu Abuizzah, Grade 4
Vancouver, WA


"The beautiful earth is our home!"

by Jennie Wei, Grade 2
Northville, Mich.


"The world of harmony"

by Jeffrey Zhang, Grade 4
Mountain Lakes, NJ

 Click here to view the 2012 IGES animated holiday greeting card.

Honorable Mentions

Aleena A., Jason Chang (Grade 3 – Washington), Madeline Cordray (Grade 2 – Ohio), Michelle Feng (Grade 3 – Virginia), Allyson Franklin (Grade 3 – Michigan), Noemi Gonzalez (Grade 3 – New Jersey), Allen Huo (Grade 2 – Virginia), Ada Leong (Grade 3 – Oregon), Winston Li (Grade 2 – New Jersey), Irene Liu (Grade 2 – Virginia), Odelia Lu (Grade 2 – New Jersey),  Shaina Rivera (Grade 3 – New Jersey), April Tian (Grade 3 – Virginia), Mia Vazquez (Grade 3 – Virginia), Sruthi Vempuluru (Grade 4 – Virginia), Hailey Wang (Grade 4 – Virginia), Jaden Wang (Grade 3 – Virginia), Audrey Zhang (Grade 3 – Michigan), Christopher Zhang (Grade 3 – Virginia)

The World’s a Place of Living Things

The world’s a place of living things,
From bees to frogs to birds with wings.
Some live in cold places, some swim in reefs,
And don’t forget some have many a leaf!

The world’s a place of living things,
With dots and stripes and lots of rings.
With all this variety we’d like to remind
Every species is one of a kind.

Poem written by Erin Hodge (Boston College), 2012 IGES Summer Intern


There are many different types of life on Earth. We call this biodiversity. There are many different species, from bacteria to insects to plants to animals. But individuals within a species are also different from one another. For example, people have different hair colors and eye colors. Some are tall while others are short. And there are some differences that cannot be seen, ones inside our cells that make us different from one another in other ways.

Biodiversity is not just the total of species in an ecosystem. It is also about how different they all are. Imagine all of the living things where you live and how different they are—people, bugs, birds, trees, fish, and frogs.

Scientists use biodiversity to help figure out how healthy an ecosystem is. The more diverse it is, the healthier it is. An ecosystem that is sufficiently diverse would be able to survive even if one of the species within it disappeared. If a species disappears in an ecosystem that does not have enough biodiversity, the ecosystem can collapse.

This year’s contest invites young scientists and artists to explore biodiversity. Learn about all the forms of life in a particular place – maybe it’s the Arctic or rainforest or your backyard. Read stories and books. Watch videos. Then draw a picture to show what you learned. Make it colorful. And remember to enter your artwork in the 2012 IGES art contest!

Did You Know?

The world has 30,000 edible plants.

Half of the calories we eat come from just three edible plants: rice, wheat, and corn.

Scientists discover 500-1000 new species each year! (Most of them are insects.)

Tropical rainforests are the areas of richest biodiversity on our planet. Tropical regions support two-thirds of the estimated 250,000 plant species in the world.

According to some studies, 30% of all species will be extinct by 2050 if the current rate of biodiversity loss continues.

There are about 13 million species – and only 1.75 million of them have been described, according to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Climate change also has huge impact on biodiversity loss, in both polar regions and tropical regions.

Plants and animals that are not native to an area and take over easily are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity.

National Education Standards

This year’s contest supports the following education standards:

  • AAAS Project 2061, Atlas of Science Literacy, Vol. 2, 2007 Content Standards for K-4
    • Diversity of Life 3-5
      • A great variety of kinds of living things can be sorted into groups in many ways using various features to decide which things belong to which group. 5A/E1
      • There are millions of different kinds of individual organisms that inhabit the earth at any one time—some very similar to each other, some very different. 5A/E3** (SFAA)
    • Systems 3-5
      • In something that consists of many parts, the parts usually influence one another. 11A/E1
      • Something may not work well (or at all) if a part of it is missing, broken, worn out, mismatched, or misconnected. 11A/E2
  • National Science Education Standards, 1996 Content Standards for K-4
    • Organisms and Their Environments
      • All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food. Other animals eat animals that eat the plants.
      • An organism’s patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism’s environment, including the kinds and numbers of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment. When the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce, and others die or move to new locations.
      • All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live. Some of these changes are detrimental to the organism or other organisms, whereas others are beneficial.
      • Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments. Humans change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.
  • National Standards for Arts Education, 1994
    • Visual Arts Content Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
      • Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.
    • Visual Arts Content Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
      • Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art.
      • Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.
    • Visual Arts Content Standard: 6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
      • Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.


Guiding Questions

Go into your backyard and notice all the different plants and animals that are there. What do they look like? How are they alike? How are they different?

Imagine you’re a scientist studying the ocean, rainforest, arctic, wetlands, grasslands, a forest, or your local park or own backyard. Maybe the area is near your home or maybe it is far away. What would the plants and animals in the area look like?

Think about a pet you might have – a dog, cat, horse, or maybe bird. Dogs are all part of the same species, but they don’t all look alike. There is a lot of diversity among them. How is your pet physically different from other members of the same species? How might your pet be different in ways you can’t see?

Learn about an endangered species. What environment does it live in? What other plants or animals does it need to survive?

Imagine you work at a zoo and have to design a new home for a certain animal (maybe a polar bear, panda, or elephant). What are all the different things you need to include to make it like their home in the wild?



Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth (CitizenKid), by Rochelle Strauss and Margot Thompson

Bats, Bugs, and Biodiversity: Adventures in the Amazonian Rain Forest, by Susan E. Goodman

Eyewitness: Ecology, by Steve Pollack

Books by Greg Pyers:

Biodiversity of Coasts
Biodiversity of Rain Forests
Biodiversity of Alpine Zones
Biodiversity of Coral Reefs
Biodiversity of Deserts
Biodiversity of Grasslands
Biodiversity of Oceans and Seas
Biodiversity of Polar Regions
Biodiversity of Rivers
Biodiversity of Temperate Forests
Biodiversity of Wetlands
Biodiversity of Woodlands


Dragonfly – Biodiversity
Discusses the different niches within the rainforest and notes different adaptations in the animals found there.

Bill Nye – Biodiversity
Introduces biodiversity and methods of conserving it. Gives examples of human interaction with other species. Links to other biodiversity videos from Bill Nye.

Billy B. “Biodiversity”
Educational song about biodiversity, with clips of wildlife and facts.

The Wild Classroom – EcoGeeks
Introduces the different kinds of biodiversity (species, genetic, and ecosystem), and concept of conservation in this context.


Homework-Help Resource that will help define terms and explain different aspects of biodiversity. The website contains links to other sites that can provide more detailed information as well.

BrainPop – Diversity of Life
Provides links to video clips and explanations for an array of different kinds of organisms, from algae to dinosaurs to sheep.

American Museum of Natural History
Games and activities explaining the importance of biodiversity and its effect on human life. Contains a book list and links to other related scientific fields.

Biodiversity 911
Basics about biodiversity and some fun and games, as well as an award-winning video, all created by the World Wildlife Federation.

Provides an interactive library of life on Earth.

Explore Biodiversity: Tree of Life Science Media Project
An interactive website featuring a collection of videos about biodiversity and information about different forms of life.

BioBlitz Education
This National Geographic Education program connects students with citizen science and community geography. The website includes activities for students in Grades 3-5 including Mapping Biodiversity, Observing and Recording Habitats, and Identifying Species.

More Information

Download the 2012 IGES Art Contest Brochure.

To Enter

Download the 2012 IGES Art Contest Entry Form.