I have had the privilege of teaching my current 8th grade students since their 6th grade year (and my first year in the county) and now as they prepare to complete their middle school careers, I would like to give them the opportunity to explore ecology through a living River Tank Ecosystem.
My students are innovative, critical thinkers and who are so excited to explore the scientific process and often run up to me in the halls to ask what we'll be doing the following day in science.
Before my arrival at the school, the middle school had been without a full-time (non-long-term sub) science teacher for about two years BUT my students rose to the challenge and approached our scientific content with such vigor and enthusiasm, one would never have guessed this to be the case. They have made me PROUD to be their teacher!
As we spend the year studying the characteristics of life, the structure of plants, the cycling of matter/flow of energy, and climate and the environment, this daily classroom experience will allow real life data and exploration that demonstrates how THEIR actions can have an positive or negative effect on the future of our planet.
The River Tank Ecosystem is a WONDERFUL resource that will allow my students to explore a self-sustaining system (where all the inhabitants can survive without the constant care of a person. My 7th and 8th graders LOVE nature and living things, often bringing my pictures frogs, birds, or rocks that they have seen in their neighborhoods for identification or just genuine excitement. Experiential learning is an important component of the scientific process and this aquarium will allow my students, most of whom have never visited a river or stream, the chance to interact with cycles and ecosystems as they learn to develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem, a Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS-LS2-1-3).
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