October 2012, by Anne Royer
Marcia Angle’s 8th-graders at Lawton adventured out into the fall weather to explore the plants and animals living in their BESTplots. We started with insect biodiversity. After learning how to randomize the location of our traps, we sacrificed two dice to the prairie gods and left the traps out for a week. Our sacrifice was acceptable, and we were rewarded with an abundance of insects and one rotten smelly mole. Being a good fellow, I threw the mole back in the plot it came from, and we took some dead-mole-smelling insects back into the classroom to identify and count. (Most of the insects just smelled like dead bugs, i.e. roses.) We had a great time discovering what we’d caught.
A few days later the same students braved a frosty morning with plant identification booklets in hand, and even managed to not lose any dice. These biodiversity data will be combined with biomass and soil data collected by Holly Visich’s high school students. All of the students have been working with forming hypotheses and predictions using the BEST plot variables, so we’re looking forward to exploring some of these questions as the data comes in this fall.