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Weekly Challenge for #EnviroEd # 31: Micro-EcoSystems

April 30, 2014

An ecosystem, by definition is an area where everything depends on everything else. It could be the size of a goldfish bowl or the size of a 200 acre forest and as such the boundaries and specifics could be diluted, especially in the mind of younger students.

However, this week I’d like to challenge you to look at “micro-ecosystems” near your school. Have a look at the life teaming within a vernal pond, or study the flora and fauna you can discover in a green island in your parking lot. Perhaps study the garden’s at the front of the school or the very edge of the playground equipment.

For those that read this blog, you know I am about inquiry based environmental education and therefore I think your first step should be to determine what you think you might find – write a checklist of sorts.

Once you’ve headed out and started to explore I have no doubt at first some students will see little. However upon close inspection and with the right questions from yourself, students will quickly discover that all is not as it first appears. By looking closely students will discover not all grasses look alike and likely that that there are insects and other invertebrates within the mini-jungle below their sneakers.

Students can become mini-archaeologists as well. Not surprisingly, 25 excited children can sometimes scare away critters before you have a chance to see them. But most of these will leave clues that they have been around. Tracks, nests, half eaten nuts, leaves or other food for instance. By all means take some photos of the discoveries you’ve made to bring back to the classroom.

Then, when back in the classroom, have students try to make the connections and relationships. Using your classroom wall and hard copies of your photos and notes, or by using a flow chart type program/app see how many connections you can make.

As a follow up, (and likely another week’s challenge!) the obvious next step is to create your own classroom based ecosystem.


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