Last week we began a study of ecosystems. Our students analyzed photos showing different population phenomena, as well as components in a food web, and identified resulting cause and effect relationships. This week students engage in some online ecosystem simulations and analyze the results. Students will be focusing on two essential questions throughout the unit:
- How does a system of living and non-living things operate to meet the needs of the organisms in the ecosystem?
- How and why do organisms interact with their environment, and what are the effects of these interactions?
Today our students made observations about the structures and functions of the external features of rainbow trout. This is part of a larger unit on ecosystems, which has included students analyzing cause and effect relationships within food webs. Later this week we will receive rainbow trout eggs that will be raised in a classroom incubator, and our focus will shift to the role of trout in an ecosystem. Stay tuned for more on this project. Thank you, Mr. Koepke for donating the trout for our students to study!
For the past several weeks, our 4th and 5th graders have been working on a project about oil spill cleanup. The first phase of the project involved students conducting pH samples to determine the sources of pollution in the fictional town named Greentown. After gathering and analyzing data, students developed presentations for the Greentown city council to identify the sources of the pollution and recommendations for further action.
The next part of the project has been for students to use the engineering design process to design, implement, evaluate, and improve a process for cleaning an oil spill so that the oil has the least impact on the surrounding ecosystem. After some study about ecosystems, students tested different tools to use for oil spill clean up. Their observations were shared between both classes, and using that information, each student group developed a plan for oil removal in a simulated river. Students were given a budget of $20 million dollars in the planning process. Student groups carried out their plans and then tested their clean up process effectiveness using special tools. From this, students earned an overall score for effectiveness and being cost efficient.
The next step will be to analyze today’s work and develop a plan to improve upon their first design. A big thank you to all parents who donated goggles, volunteered to prepare materials this fall, and help out with the activity. This would not have happened without your help.