Out of Control

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this outdoor activity, learners release a portion of a lawn from human control—no mowing, no watering, no weeding, no pest control—and then investigate the changes that result over several weeks. Learners will discover how plants and animals colonize the area (replace the lawn organisms) once human impact is put on hold.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 12 months

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 ball of string
  • 4 stakes (about knee high)
  • several sweepnets (homemade or purchased)
  • magnifiers and bug boxes
  • clear plastic bags (1 liter size)
  • OBIS lawn guide
  • meter sticks
  • transparent tape
  • 1 data board
  • marking pen
  • 1 copy of Sweepnet Equipment card (page 5-6 of PDF)
  • wire coat hangers or 1 piece of heavy-duty wire (for making sweepnets)
  • dowels or broom handles about one meter long and 1.5 cm in diameter (for making sweepnets)
  • nylon netting (mosquito netting), .75 square meter pieces (for making sweepnets)
  • Needle and thread for sewing or a sewing machine (for making sweepnets)
  • filament or duct tape (for making sweepnets)
  • pliers (for making sweepnets)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
      • Biodiversity
      • Human Impact
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • The Scientific Worldview
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Gardening
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1981