Tried and True: Investigating ecosystems in a biobottleby: Arnica Breene and Donna Gilewski

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Biobottles are miniature ecosystems made from 2-liter plastic soda bottles. They allow students to explore how organisms in an ecosystem are connected to each other, examine how biotic and abiotic factors influence plant and animal growth and development, and discover how important biodiversity is to an ecosystem. This activity was inspired by an idea developed by the Rachel Carson Center for Natural Resources.

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Reviews (4)
  • on Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:18 PM

This article describes an effort to create a complete sustainable ecosystem in a plastic soda bottle. While the activity is not a new one, the authors have the students decide what to place into the bottle and why it is important. The activity includes journaling and the authors include a rubric. This learning by doing approach with brainstorming and justification makes this a student directed inquiry lesson.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:47 PM

I really enjoyed this article. Great possiblility for applications in instruction.

Dat Le  (Springfield, VA)
Dat Le (Springfield, VA)

  • on Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:13 PM

A student favorite that I have used for years and "tweaked" to fit the ecosystem or life cycle of creatures to fit the season or unit! This article presents detailed instructions, material ideas and a simple rubric. After you've made one - think big! Students love to stack layers of soda bottles: crickets or mealworms, and seeds on top of pond water with small plants and a tiny goldfish.

Alyce D  (Peyton, CO)
Alyce D (Peyton, CO)

  • on Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:29 PM

This detailed and comprehensive description of a biobottle for use in a unit on ecosystems gives very structured procedures, materials, a rubric, and safety advice. For a teacher nervous about giving the students much control over their work (and that the work is messy), this is a comforting article from two clearly experienced teachers. For a teacher used to making his or her own way, this method brings to mind many adaptations to consider, while adhering to the general outline and having much of the footwork already described. My only hesitations are that it is somewhat acceptable that some of the organisms will die in the bottle. I know that many small insect, spiders, and various invertebrates have relatively short life spans anyway, I would make a point of engaging the students in a discussion of the ethics involved.

Allison Cooke
Allison Cooke

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