Using Student Collected Data to Determine Creek Health.
My students need a lightweight portable fluorometer to measure multiple photosynthetic characteristics of primary producers. Annually, we will be able to use the data collected to study ecology and track environmental influences on our local creek.
Hooray! This project is fully funded
Hooray! This project is fully funded
The high school I work at has a core group of academically gifted students with high tests scores for math and science. However, I believe that I could do more to support students who are economically disadvantaged, disabled and English language learners(ELL). I believe that challenges with creating differentiated curriculum and lack of curriculum designed for ELL’s has hampered their success. I believe that by using the natural world around us as a backdrop and tying in their own experiences, it can open the world of science to ALL students.
All of my students can be successful in science and I would like to use their shared experiences to make science come alive.
Some of my students have never had to think about the quality of the water around them, while others have lived in areas where they had to worry about where to find clean water to drink. I believe it is these unique backgrounds that will allow all of my students to have a better understanding of the water they all live near and also have a respect for the challenges of studying these constantly changing ecosystems.
Over the last couple of years I have been exploring a unit in my Biology class where we investigate the water conditions at a local creek. This type of interactive activity allows me to integrate what we have learned throughout the year and apply concepts so the students can go through the scientific process of hypothesizing, testing, evaluating and finally writing up a final report.
Putting students in an ecosystem they are familiar with and allowing them to sample and design experiments with cutting edge technology, makes Biology education accessible to all.
Many students struggle with Biology however having a system that they already know about (the local creek) allows them to test their assumptions about the creek. The AquaPen that I am raising money to purchase allows the class to make key photosynthetic measurements that will indicate creek health and allow for seasonal and annual observations.
The AquaPen allows the students to quantify the community contribution of photosynthetic organisms in the water. This is one piece of evidence that students can use to evaluate the health of a local creek. Additionally, I would like to have the students use the AquaPen to calculate growth rates of organisms (ecology) which can be a proxy for environmental health. By looking at growth under varying conditions, they can see how mechanisms inside the cells change (molecular biology). The AquaPen will be used throughout the whole year to teach many different concepts. We plan to partner with the Institute for Systems Biology, in Seattle, Washington, to set up calls with researchers like Dr. Jacob Valenzuela (PhD) to discuss environmental health and sustainability. This will give the students an opportunity to discuss and ask questions with a real-world scientist. I am excited to develop and test new curriculum that will get students excited about science.
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