2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 9:55 AM

Using Wetlands as a Natural Laboratory In the Middle School Classroom: An Example from the University of Tennessee National Science Foundation GK-12 Program

HAMILTON, Jorene L., Dept. of Geography, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37920 and TILLETT, Ann, Carpenters Middle School, Maryville, TN 37803, jhamil28@utk.edu

Sixth-grade students at Carpenters Middle School conducted a year-long research project on a schoolyard wetland. Their research focused on (1) how biodiversity changes at different scales and (2) on the water quality of the wetland. Students investigated the wetland at three different scales: broad, intermediate, and fine. At the broad scale, students attempted to identify and quantify the type of vegetation that grows in the wetland. They made inferences about the type of animals that were present based on tracks that they found in the mud and different bird calls that they could hear. To examine the biodiversity at the intermediate scale, students sifted through the leaf litter and soil, and used magnifying glasses and field guides to identify the various macro-invertebrates that they found. At the fine scale, students used microscopes to examine water and soil samples, and attempted to classify the types of microorganisms (ex. tardigrades) that were present.

To characterize the water quality, students measured turbidity, pH, and dissolved oxygen. They also identified aquatic macroinvertebrates and used them as biotic indicators of environmental quality. Their research concluded in a poster presentation to a fourth grade science class about the school's wetland and a peer-taught lesson and lab on biodiversity in the wetland.