Carolina Bays: Lesson Plan

Explore the mysterious Carolina Bays, a series of wetland ecosystems that dot several states, including North Carolina.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • 8.L.3.1 — Explain how factors such as food, water, shelter and space affect populations in an ecosystem.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will identify the components of an ecosystem, and describe the ways in which factors such as food, water, shelter, and space affect the populations of these habitats. 

Essential Questions

  1. Define the biotic and antibiotic components of ecosystems.
  2. Define biodiversity.
  3. Describe the populations that live in Carolina  Bays habitats.

Essential Vocabulary

  • Ecosystem
  • Abiotic
  • Biotic
  • Biodiversity


Students will complete the interactive activity Analyzing an Ecosystem.


Students will view the video Carolina Bays, and take and share notes on the following:

  • The definition of Carolina Bays
  • Biotic components of Carolina Bays habitats
  • Biodiversity of Lake Waccamaw


Students will choose one of the following topics explored in the Carolina Bay video, read about the topic in the Carolina Bays Fact Sheet, and write a paragraph (at least five sentences) summarizing:

  1. Definition of Carolina Bays
  2. Biotic components of the Carolina Bays ecosystem
  3. Biodiversity of Lake Waccamaw


There are many theories regarding the mysterious history and formation of Carolina Bays. Here are some related resources students can explore:

  • Did a Comet Cause the Carolina Bays? — Signs of the Times
  • How did Carolina Bays Form? — International Carnivorous Plant Society
  • The Carolina Bays: Explaining a Cosmic Mystery — The Virginian Pilot
  • Carolina Bays Formation From Glacier Ice — Scientific Psychic


  1. Define abiotic and biotic ecosystem components and provide two examples of each.
  2. Define biodiversity.
  3. Describe two features of Carolina Bays that contribute to its value as an ecosystem for plants and animals.