The subject of ecology is particularly important for our students today because we as Americans have finally realized that in order for our planet to remain alive, we must take preventive measures to save it. Pond Ecology takes into account one aspect of planet—ponds. Through experiments, readings and discussions, the students will learn to look critically at ecosystems, and ecology especially as they relate to ponds.
Upon completion of the unit, the students will realize that man is highly dependent on the planet Earth for survival just as Earth depends on man. Therefore, this unit can be used as one of many activities which focuses on the significance of saving our planet.
This curriculum unit is designed to be used with fifth grade students. It is particularly designed to provide students with “hands-on” scientific activities in order to reinforce all the concepts presented throughout the unit. Secondly, it provides the students with the basic knowledge needed in order to design their own scientific investigations. Finally, and probably the first objective, the unit will help students become aware of the importance of keeping ponds safe from pollutants while witnessing the actual devastation that oil or gas spills cause to our pond communities.
As a science teacher, and PIMMS fellow, I have focused on making this unit readily accessible for teacher usage. With the exception of the microscopic activities, all of the experiments throughout this curriculum can be performed inexpensively. I have also included a list of possible field trips available within the New Haven area. Clearly stated objectives have been listed with each lesson plan in order to eliminate some of the burden for teachers using the curriculum. Therefore, get ready to teach “ecology” from a “hands-on” perspective and watch your students desire for performing science strengthen.
The curriculum, “Pond Ecology”, will involve the following components:
The origin of a pond and its characteristics will be discussed in this section of the paper.
II. The Scientific Method
Since one of my goals in this unit is to encourage students to perform and design their own experiment, I feel that it is necessary to include a summary of the proper method of writing a scientific investigation. Therefore I will list and briefly explain the five basic steps of the scientific method.
III. The Water Cycle
Here, I will discuss the water cycle. The students will identify the water cycle as the continuous movement of water from the atmosphere to the earth and from the earth back to the atmosphere.
IV. Fundamentals of Pond ecology
This section of the paper will concentrate on giving the students background information on ecology in order for them to understand fully ecosystems. Therefore, the following ecological concepts will be discussed, including but not limited to: (a) food webs, chains and pyramids; (b) biotic verses abiotic components of the environment; (c) ecological relationships, communities, population and organism that are found in ponds; (d) ecological succession of the pond community.
V. Constructing a Pond Community
The students will set up one or two aquariums in the classroom. Once the aquariums are ready, the student will take a trip to a nearby pond and collect water, plants, animal life, soil, etc... The specimen collected will be placed in the aquarium located in your classroom. I will also include a lesson plan for constructing a pond outside your school if you can receive permission to do so.
VI. Listing Factors Within A Pond Community
This section of the paper will include experimentation relating to the biotic and abiotic components of the pond community. Students will perform simple experiments to see how water, temperature, light and minerals affect the biotic community that exist within the pond.