Students should have a basic understanding of ecosystems and food chains.
To start, you may want to watch this video entitled What is STEM Education?
Be sure to visit the Project Noah site before starting the lesson at http://www.projectnoah.org.
Before students go out into the field, you should create a mission on the Project Noah site. This should include a brief description of what you'd like students to do,as well as more specific instructions and a timeline for completion of the project. In order to add a mission, you must contact the site, so be sure to allow enough time prior to the start of the activity.
You may choose to assign the field visits as homework or do them during class time. You may also do the first field visit during class so you can prompt student observations and assign later visits as homework.
Even urban areas have ecosystems. For some ideas of what students could look for in more urban settings, check out the urban biodiversity mission on Project Noah.
“Citizen science”is a term that describes programs in which people who may or may not have scientific training contribute to a project. This contribution may be in the form of data collection, but may also include helping with the development of the research questions and procedure or data analysis and drawing conclusions. Citizen science allows for more data collection than might be possible otherwise, and also allows for the inclusion of different perspectives. You may want to include a pre-activity conversation about the importance of citizen science. For more information to include in a discussion, visit http://www.birds.cornell.edu/citscitoolkit
This lesson can be used to reinforce many different concepts such as the diversity of life, food chains, energy flow through ecosystems, interdependence of living things, dynamic equilibrium, and human interaction with the environment. You can change the exact procedure for the mission and the criteria for the final representation of the ecosystem to fit your needs.
Before starting this lesson with students, you should view the Backyard Ecosystems How-To below.
Back in the Classroom
If you are interested in learning how to make your own rubric for this or other lessons, you may be interested in watching the How to Make a Rubric video below.
Or, you can choose to use or customize the one created for this lesson plan below.
Backyard Ecosystems Rubric (DOC)
Backyard Ecosystems Rubric (PDF)
New York Hall of Science and Project Noah
Abilities Necessary to Do Scientific Inquiry
Regulation And Behavior
Populations And Ecosystems
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