Ecosystem Explorations: Connecting an ecology field experience to the classroomby: Kristen L. Gunckel

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The Ecosystem Explorations curriculum includes eleven classroom lessons. The lessons are divided into two sections—Understanding Ecosystems and Human Connections to Ecosystems. The curriculum incorporates scientific inquiry skills, cooperative learning situations, writing-to-learn activities, interdisciplinary lessons, and student materials printed in English and Spanish. This article describes how this curriculum helped students build a conceptual framework prior to participating in a field experience and better understand how humans depend on and impact the ecosystem.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:19 PM

This article describes how an environmental center created pre- and post-field trip activities to reinforce their Ecosystem Explorations curriculum. Prior to the field trip, the class engaged in various activities to introduce basic ecosystem concepts, journal writing, as well as inquiry. One activity that was a version of freeze-tag called The Energy Game. Each student role-played a part of the ecosystem (herbivore, carnivore, sun, etc.) and received a certain number of energy bundles (lima beans) depending on his/her role. By playing the Energy Game and then making changes to the model, students are building on their previous knowledge gained through personal experience. This game sounds like it would be something kids would really enjoy! Good article, good suggestions for classroom activities before a field trip to introduce ecological concepts.

Kathy Sparrow  (Delray Beach, FL)
Kathy Sparrow (Delray Beach, FL)

  • on Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:01 PM

This article presents some great instructional activities that will extend learning before and after an ecological field trip. The activities range from active games, to reflective literary compositions. The energy web game was developed from an adaptation of the freeze game, using lima beans to represent bundles of energy that flow through the ecosystem. The game also can be discussed by the class to see if additional ecosystem roles should be included to improve the model. In a second hands-on activity, students create an ecosystem model in a 2-liter bottle. Students incorporate their model int o an application of the scientific process, and observe the ecosystem models over time. In the third activity students combine hands-on investigation with literacy for a very well-rounded lesson about natural resources.

Angelika Fairweather  (Bradenton, FL)
Angelika Fairweather (Bradenton, FL)

  • on Tue May 03, 2011 6:17 PM

The articles describes a series of lessons used for pre-post ecological field trips. The activities described are flexible enough to adapt not only for elementary trips but for trips for older students as well. The lessons highlight literacy activities but also helping students to identify their own misconceptions and to change those concepts to reflect the real world. I especially liked the idea of using a game to show energy transfer through an ecosystem - I do something like this but not as well and I look forward to incorporating the authors suggestions this year to see how it works with my middle level students.

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

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