Nov 092015
 

P1000358Inquiry based activities are one of the best ways to teach science to students.  Students build a comprehension of the scientific method through exposure to the process of conducting research.  Having students take an active role in collecting data and gathering evidence keeps them engaged while reinforcing the critical notion that claims be supported by evidence.  This lesson plan provides teachers with a fun but relatively simple template for creating student research projects using antipredator behavior in crickets.  Students will examine hiding behavior in crickets and determine how/whether certain variables of interest (e.g. sex, food availability, light level, etc.) influence hiding.

Cri-Kee_Mulan_Disney2014

At the conclusion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Understand the components of the scientific method
  • Design experiments to test specific hypotheses
  • Interpret data
  • Use evidence to support claims
  • Understand how predators can influence prey behavior
  • Understand how organisms often face trade-offs between safety and feeding, or safety and finding mates

Resources:

Lesson Plan created by Michael Kuczynski, 2015

Data Nugget manuscript published in ABT!

Data Nugget manuscript published in ABT!

The American Biology Teacher has recently published a Data Nuggets manuscript by former GK-12 Fellows Melissa Kjelvik and Liz Schulthuis! In case you’re curious what Data Nuggets are, here’s a quick excerpt from the paper: Data Nuggets (http://datanuggets.org) are free K–16 educational resources that bring data collected by scientists into the classroom, giving students the chance to work with data from cutting-edge research. They were designed in response to teacher requests for lessons that would help students meet quantitative learning goals. Data Nuggets are built from recent and ongoing research; each worksheet provides a brief background to a research topic, the researcher’s process as they developed their ideas, and a data set from their work. Students are challenged to answer a scientific question using the data set to support their claim and are guided through the construction of graphs o facilitate [...]

Fellows share the KBS GK-12 story at 2014 Ecological Society of America meeting

Fellows share the KBS GK-12 story at 2014 Ecological Society of America meeting

On Tuesday August 12, GK-12 Fellows Dani Fegan and Jake Nalley presented at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Sacramento, California. Their talk was titled:  KBS GK-12 BioEnergy SusTainability (BEST) Project: Using schoolyard research plots to grow ecological and energy literacies (abstract here) and was included in a special organized session: Achieving Energy and Ecological Literacies for All: Towards Best Practices in Science Education and Outreach at the Interface. The talk highlighted the initial and realized project goals, the BEST plots, challenges, success-stories, and some of the amazing products that have been developed by participating Fellows (e.g. classroom-ready lesson plans and Data Nuggets). Despite an initial technology failure during the talk, the presenters used their hard-won GK-12 presentation-skill-mastery to give a brilliant team talk, receiving some rave reviews! Jake and Dani also handed out GK-12 lesson plans and newsletters to interested attendees of a materials ‘Share-fair’ [...]

GK-12 Fellows receive spring awards

Congratulations to former GK-12 fellows Cara Krieg, Melissa Kjelvik, and Liz Schultheis for receiving awards to further their research. Cara Krieg received the 2014 George J. Wallace and Martha C. Wallace award, supporting ornithological research, from the Zoology department. Cara’s research focuses on unexpected behaviors observed in female house wrens, specifically female-female aggression and female song. Follow along with Cara’s research at her summer blog.  Melissa Kjelvik and Liz Schultheis were awarded a grant from NIMBIOS – the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (http://www.nimbios.org/). The grant funds will be used to continue to develop and evaluate an exciting educational tool they developed while in the GK-12 program, called Data Nuggets. Check out the Data Nugget website.        

Gull Lake students learn about native plants

Gull Lake students learn about native plants

In mid-May, Gull Lake 8th graders learned about landscaping with native plants with the help of fellows Tyler Bassett and Brendan O’Neill. Friday, May 16 was cool and a bit rainy, but that didn’t stop Jamie Bowman’s 8th grade class from planting nearly 300 native plugs at the Gull Lake Middle school. Tyler and Brendan took turns helping the students settle the plants and teach them about some of the benefits of native plant landscaping, including: improved wildlife habitat, erosion and run-off control, and reduced water use.  Ms. Bowman hopes plans to use the newly planted area in future years as an extension of the BEST plots and the Gull Lake Outdoor Classroom, which includes lake access and a greenhouse. Students have used the outdoor classroom to sample lake water for water quality analyses, learn about aquatic  invertebrate life, and [...]

Call for 2014-2015 GK-12 Fellows

Call for 2014-2015 GK-12 Fellows

The KBS GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project is now accepting applications for graduate student fellowships for 2014-15.  This graduate training project is funded by grant from the NSF Division of Graduate Education. Fellowships are intended for students who have completed their first year of graduate coursework.    The NSF GK-12 program is meant to advance the professional development of STEM graduate students while they continue to make good progress on their dissertation research.  NSF stipulates that fellows will spend a maximum of 15 hours per week directly involved in GK-12 project activities, with approximately 10 of these hours devoted to activities in K-12 partner districts or at KBS.  KBS activities will include a one-day orientation in May, an intensive summer science institute in late June, two one-day school year workshops and weekly Friday fellows meetings associated with a course focused on [...]

Winter Schoolyard Soil and Air Temperature

Winter Schoolyard Soil and Air Temperature

Photo Credit: Benson Kua The causes and consequenses of soil temperature in the winter is an important concept to understand. Human management activities in agriculture and conservation can have large impacts on soil temperature. In return, soil temperature has important impacts on the ecology of differnt ecosystem. The causes of soil temperature changes in the winter can easily be studied in the schoolyard. Students will explore the soil and air temperature in different habitats around the schoolyard that may be affected by different ecosystem properties, such as plant, litter or snow cover and human built structures. The patterns in soil temperature are then related to the consequences for the ecosystem around the school and extensions are made to consequences for fields and forests. At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to: Take measurements of soil and air [...]

Winter Cover Crops

Winter Cover Crops

By Nicholas A. Tonelli from Pennsylvania, USA  Winter cover crops are planted between harvested crops (Fall – Spring) and provide many benefits to agricultural fields including reduction in nitrate leaching, nitrogen fixation, increased organic matter, weed suppression and others. However, few farmers currently use winter cover crops. The objective of this lesson is to engage middle or high school students in active research that identifies winter cover crop species and phenotypes that would be beneficial for local farmers. Students sow several cover crop species / phenotypes in the fall, measure ground cover in early winter and make plant measurements (biomass, height, root characteristics) in May of the following year. Research results may be reported to local farmers as an educational activity. At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to: Engage in constructive agroecology research activities Identify beneficial [...]

Rainy Day Habitat Lesson

Rainy Day Habitat Lesson

It is important that students learn the different components of habitats and the consequences of removing one or more of those components. This activity can allow empirical study of habitats in the classroom when weather conditions are unfavorable outdoors. This experiment gives earthworms a choice of two habitats and identifies which habitat they prefer. Students will learn that earthworms prefer habitats with high organic matter. Results from this study can then be used to predict where worms prefer to live in the schoolyard or across a landscape. At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to: Identify the habitats of familiar organisms and their needs for survival Conduct an experiment to identify preferred habitats of organisms Resources: Lesson Plan Lesson created by Brook Wilke

Microscopic Life in Water

Microscopic Life in Water

Photo Credit: Frank Fox Examination of water under a microscope uncovers a whole new world that is invisible to the standard human eye. In this activity, students examine the microscopic life in water from multiple sources to find out if there is life in them and if it is different between sources. Students draw pictures of what they see in microscopes and draw conclusions about what they found. Experts suggest that this activity is one of the best at stimulating a child’s interest in exploring the natural world. At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to: Identify microscopic organisms that are found in water Differentiate between organisms found in different water sources (lakes, ponds, rivers, drinking, fish tank, etc…) Resources: Lesson Plan Student worksheet Phytoplankton guide Lesson Created by Brook Wilke

Land Conservation Debate

Land Conservation Debate

Photo Credit: Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy In 1980, 6% of Michigan’s landscape was covered by urban areas. Experts project that by 2040, 18% of the landscape will be developed into urban areas. This comes at a huge cost to natural landscapes including the ecosystem services they provide. In this activity, students will be divided up into groups that represent different landscapes including farmland, wetlands, forests, prairies and urban areas. Students in these groups will identify reasons and share arguments for protecting natural landscapes or developing areas for urban expansion. Students are allowed to debate the topic between groups and to come up with a reasonable solution to the problem of expanding urban development. Specific examples in the local community provide grounds to really understand how this plays out in the real world. At the conclusion of this lesson, students will [...]

Is CO2 An Atmospheric Pollutant?

Is CO2 An Atmospheric Pollutant?

Photo Credit: Jorge Royan The United States Supreme Court is currently (December, 2006) debating the question, “Is carbon dioxide an atmospheric pollutant?” This lesson provides middle school students with an opportunity to learn about and discuss rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, which may drastically change their lives in the future. A panel discussion with two-three adults is used to engage students in a discussion about the Supreme Court case. Adults help to share as much information as possible about the issue with students to help them form their own – unbiased opinion on the matter. At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to: Define what carbon dioxide (CO2) is State why concentration of CO2 is rising in the atmosphere Understand how CO2 in the atmosphere will cause rapid climate change Understand that rising CO2 increases [...]

Food Chain

Food Chain

    Students learn about a specific food chain (coyote-squirrel-acorn in this example, but can be any local food chain) in nature and that organisms can be classified as producers, herbivores or carnivores depending on their diet. A game will be played where students take on the role of different organisms in the food chain and act out different cycles.Experimental situations are played out in the game and are designed to help the students understand that there are more organisms lower than higher in the food chain.They will also learn the consequences of separately removing carnivores and plants from the food chain. At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to: Understand that energy flows naturally through a locally occurring food chain Define the terms producer, herbivore and carnivore Understand that there must be more individuals at the [...]

All About Corn

All About Corn

Photo Credit: Darwin Bell Corn and soybeans cover 6% of the total land area in the United States and are grown on 15 times as much land as all fruits and vegetables combined.In this activity, students will take a walk out into a corn field to become more acquainted with this crop that is so common.Students will make calculations for the number of plants and ears of corn per acre and then estimate the total number of ears grown in the U.S.in 2002 based on USDA data.Students will be informed about the different types of corn available and that most of it is actually used for products other than human food. Finally, corn is a crop that requires high amounts of energy and nutrients to grow successfully, making it a crop that can potentially contribute to environmental pollution if managed [...]

Where does plant mass come from?

Where does plant mass come from?

Photo Credit: Audrey from Central Pennsylvania, USA Tracing matter in the gaseous form is difficult to teach and requires carefully planned activities. Plant growth is one way to teach students that most of the mass of the plant comes from somewhere other than the soil, but mostly in carbon dioxide and hydrogen atoms from water. To identify this, students will be planting seeds indoors, weighing the dry pot, soil and seed first and then the dry pot, soil and plant later. The total mass of the soil and pot will be nearly equal before and after the experiment. Students will also measure plant height throughout the experiment. Students will be able use the data from the experiment to make graphs and conclusions, which are important concepts for upper elementary students. After discovering that most of the plant mass does not [...]

Fellows Liz Schultheis and Nick Ballew receive awards

Fellows Liz Schultheis and Nick Ballew receive awards

Congratulations to former GK-12 Fellows Liz Schultheis and Nick Ballew for the following awards granted this spring:  Liz received the 2012-2013 Fields Teaching Award from the MSU Department of Plant Biology. The award is given once annually to a Plant Biology graduate student, “recognizing originality in teaching methods and a recipient’s ability to generate enthusiasm about learning and to influence student attitudes and interests”.   Liz has honed her teaching and science communication skills over the last three years of service as a GK-12 Fellow. She is also beginning a second year of partnering with the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. She has created and presented many lesson plans for K-12 students, hosted workshops for K-12 teachers, and attended local and national education conferences (GK-12 annual meeting, MSTA, NABT, ESA Life Discovery). She helped co-create Data Nuggets and is [...]

Project GREEEN call for proposals!

Project GREEEN call for proposals!

The above Call for Proposals is sponsored by Project GREEEN. Originally known as the Plant Initiative, Project GREEEN is a collaborative effort by plant-based commodities and businesses in cooperation with AgBioResearch (formerly the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station), MSU Extension, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to advance Michigan’s economy through its plant-based agriculture. Its mission is to develop research and educational programs, ensure and improve food safety and protect and preserve the quality of the environment. If you are curious where you can find Michigan native plants for your backyard or schoolyard, see: Michigan Retail Sources of Native plants (.docx)

Fellows present at Plant Science Symposium

Fellows present at Plant Science Symposium

GK-12 fellows Tyler Bassett and Jake Nalley have been honing their public presentation skills all year in middle and high school classrooms. On March 29, they put those skills to good use by participating in the Plant Science Graduate Student Research Symposium that was hosted on Michigan State’s East Lansing campus. Both presented on their individual research topics in front of a small crowd and judges. Tyler and Jake both research the many benefits that can come from diversity, a topic that should be familiar to students and teachers that have studied the BEST Plots. Tyler focused on how diversity may be a crucial factor in resisting invasive species in restored prairies. Jake spoke about how growing multiple species of algae together results in higher levels of biomass that can be converted into biodiesel fuel. Tyler received third place in the [...]

GK-12 presents at MSTA

GK-12 presents at MSTA

  On March 8th, Dave Williams (GK-12 partner teacher and RET) and Liz Schultheis (GK-12 fellow) presented at the Michigan Science Teachers Association Conference (MSTA). Dave developed this lesson while working as an RET in Jen Lau’s lab, where graduate student Liz studies the role of enemies in plant invasions. The lesson covers invasive species in Michigan (like purple loosestrife and garlic mustard), and guides students through collecting data to test the Enemy Release Hypothesis – which posits that invasive species escape from natural enemies in their invasive range, contributing to their success. In this lesson, students develop predictions, design experimental sampling methods, collect data, and create graphs for data interpretation. Participants were also introduced to Data Nuggets – activities where students can practice making claims based on scientific data. Lesson and other materials available via these links: Presentation Slides [...]

Natural Selection in the Classroom

Natural Selection in the Classroom

Semester-long projects that will allow students to see evolution in action In this lesson, teachers explore potential semester to year-long evolution lessons that will enable the development of classroom lessons about evolution by natural selection. These lessons consist of long-term studies where change in populations over time is observed rather than simulated. At the conclusion of the lesson, teachers will be able to: Develop a long-term natural selection lesson for the classroom Plan for the effective measurement of traits and fitness Discuss and teach the 3 requirements for evolution by natural selection: phenotypic variation, relationship between a trait and fitness, and heritability of the trait. The lessons discussed are designed to be semester to year long, long term, experiments. The long duration is necessary in order to see a response to selection. This lesson is intended for either an Intro [...]

Now Accepting Applications for 2013-2014 Teacher Partners

Now Accepting Applications for 2013-2014 Teacher Partners

The KBS GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project is now accepting applications for Teacher Partners for 2013-14. Teacher Partners are K-12 teachers from 15 local school districts forming the KBS K-12 Partnership for Science Literacy. Teachers are paired with GK-12 graduate student fellows in a year-long relationship.Teacher Partners provide fellows with K-12 classroom and teaching experience. Fellows work with teacher partners to improve curricula and student learning, in part by utilizing established schoolyard science research plots (BEST plots) in K-12 Partner districts. These partnerships offer graduate students an opportunity to bring leading-edge research practices and findings to K-12 learning settings. Graduate Student Fellows are meant to serve as role models to K-12 students and help stimulate their interest in STEM disciplines. Please see the application form for more details on the project and teacher partner responsibilities and benefits. To apply, please submit (1) this completed application [...]

We are now accepting Fellowship applications for 2013

We are now accepting Fellowship applications for 2013

The KBS GK-12 Bioenergy Sustainability Project is accepting applications for graduate student fellowships for 2013-14.  This graduate training project is funded by grant from the NSF Division of Graduate Education. Fellowships are intended for students who have completed at least their first year of graduate coursework. The NSF GK-12 program is meant to advance the professional development of STEM graduate students while they continue to make good progress on their dissertation research.  NSF stipulates that fellows will spend a maximum of 15 hours per week directly involved in GK-12 project activities, with approximately 10 of these hours devoted to activities in K-12 partner districts or at KBS.  KBS activities will include a one-day orientation in May, an intensive summer science institute in late June, two one-day school year workshops and weekly Friday fellows meetings associated with a course focused on the professional development of [...]