Big idea: Organisms and their environments

All organisms, including humans, depend on, interact with and affect the environments in which they live and other organisms that live there.

'Organisms and their environments' is one of 15 big ideas of science in the Best Evidence Science Teaching collection. Understanding of the big idea is built up by a series of key concepts at age 11-16, which have been organised into teaching topics.

The research-informed resources for each key concept make up a progression toolkit that provides:

  • appropriately-sequenced steps for learning progression
  • diagnostic questions to reveal preconceptions and common misunderstandings
  • response activities to challenge misunderstandings and encourage conceptual development.

Download teacher guidance notes for this big idea



Resources for age 11-14

Topic 1: Interdependence of organisms

Topic 2: Organisms in their environments

Topic 3: Biodiversity and human impacts

Resources for age 14-16

Topic 4: Interdependence of organisms

Topic 5: Organisms in their environments

  • Key concept 1
    Cycling of materials through ecosystems

    Resources for this key concept will be uploaded in summer 2022.

Topic 6: Biodiversity and human impacts

  • Key concept 1
    Measuring biodiversity

    Resources for this key concept will be uploaded in autumn 2022.
  • Key concept 2
    Human interactions with ecosystems: negative and positive

    Resources for this key concept will be uploaded in autumn 2022.

Is there a recommended teaching order?

The Best Evidence Science Teaching resources can be incorporated into your existing scheme of work, if desired. 

However, we have used research evidence on learning pathways and on effective sequencing of ideas to develop maps that suggest how key concepts can be sequenced to build understanding of big ideas of science. These maps can help with curriculum planning.

View the key concept map for biology