Modified by Mary Eldredge-Sandbo from the textbook Biological Science An Ecological Approach . 1982. Fifth edition BSCS Green Version
Type of Entry:
Type of Activity:
Notes to Teacher:I use this project in Advanced Biology. In Biology, students learn the basic concepts of ecology. In the advanced class, they are given an opportunity, through this project, to put those concepts to work. Of course, they also learn more information, terminology, techniques and skill, but my primary goal is to keep it as ñhands-onî as possible.
At the beginning, I give students an outline of everything that needs to be completed. With the exception of a few class activities, students are pretty much given the leeway to work at their own pace and in the order they feel is best. They like this and really take ownership of their work.
Students with learning disabilities excel when given the opportunity to choose the part of the project they want. For the same reason, the gifted and highly motivated students can do their very best, and then some, with this project.
At the completion of this unit, each group does a presentation of their work. It usually takes 15 minutes to a half hour per group. I encourage them to make their own visuals and teach the way they would like to be taught. Finally, the work of each group is displayed in the classroom for several days.
The main thing needed for this project is time. Although a nice, primitive study area would be fun to study, the students were amazed to see how much life is right in their own backyard. As long as an area can be found where plants are allowed to grow and there isnÍt excessive daily human traffic, there is much to be discovered. We found such areas surrounding our football field. Expenses can be kept to a minimum if necessary by making most of the equipment. I have found this to be a very rewarding activity both for myself and for my students.
Required of students:
Students need to be willing to work with each other in their groups. This was the most important factor in determining the success, or lack thereof, of this project. Working with students having different interests and skills ensures a thorough finished product. In addition, students must take good lab notes every day, keeping track of what was observed, what was accomplished and all data that was collected. Keeping goals and deadlines also makes it easier to finish the project on time.
Preparation time needed:
Most of the preparation time is needed before the project is started in the classroom. The teacher must decide which activities will be performed, how they will be graded and how they will work into the overall curriculum of the course. If equipment must be made, that will take more time the first year, but then it will be ready for subsequent years. Time also must be taken to stake out the study areas and collect necessary equipment for the different lab activities.
Class time needed:
This activity is very flexible. I use just about every day for some aspect of this project for about one month. Several times a week, we go outside for a portion of the class period. Other days, students work on their project in the classroom. About one class period a week is spent on lecture and review of the topics being covered in lab. This activity can easily be stretched out or condensed, depending on the amount of information and data you want students to collect.
AbstractThis activity takes an in depth look at micro ecosystems near the school. I start right away by going outside where each group is assigned a study area. They stake out and rope off their study area, do population counts and density studies. They construct a map of the whole area, collect plants and insects (one of each species and only if there are six others in the area), and mount and identify the organisms using keys. Invertebrates are also collected from the soil and litter in a Berlese Apparatus. Students identify the trophic levels, make a food web and pyramid and record information on a regular basis.
Since it is assumed that students have a working understanding of basic ecological concepts, lecture is kept to a minimum and interaction among team members is strongly encouraged. Students are given several evaluations throughout the project to determine level of understanding and progress. They also keep a lab journal which is graded upon completion of the project.
BackgroundQuestion this activity helps students answer:
What are the niches and the interrelationships among organisms in this vicinity?
Materials needed: (Each group of 4-6 students will need the following:)
Study of plants:
Animals above the ground:
Animals below the ground:
Method of Assessment/Evaluation
Extension/Reinforcement/Additional IdeasTake a day long field trip to an area less frequented by human and collect data on one day. Then, either do the whole project, or compare results to study area near school.
Do an analysis of soil, look at microorganisms and correlate findings to vegetation and other organisms.
Study an area with water -- do water studies in addition to, or instead of, the others outlined above.
This activity often stimulates interest in related careers. Invite a wildlife biologist, natural resource worker or other related professionals to class, or visit them where they work.
Have students do the study literally in their own back yard and do the class work in the labs.
As a whole class, study one large area and have groups break off to study their separate quadrats and correlate findings.