Note at Career High School we are blessed with 80 minute block schedules These classroom activities are designed to fit within this class structure. Teachers with other schedules can easily modify the activities to fit their structure
Class 1: What is a plant?
In this class the students will explore the properties of plants. The students will look at various structures like the leaf and root to explore the concepts of structure and function. Students should finish this unit with a understanding of plant cell structures and important plant organs. Photosynthesis may or may not be introduced depending upon time frame. In addition AP Transpiration Lab 9 may be done as a follow up exercise
· Students will be able to identify the major structures of a flowering plant.
· Prepared slides of various plant cells
· Pressed dry mount leaf collections of trees found around the neighborhood
Procedures and Activities
1. Start off the unit with the general discussion question, "What makes a plant a plant?". This a brain storm question where answers are written only on a board with minimal effort to keep it structured. Try to get the students imaginations going in every direction from what is a plant's cell structure to their role in the ecosystem. It maybe helpful to have a prop for them to focus on. I often bring in my pet rabbit and a geranium. Students should also take notes on all ideas presented. Other alternatives would be to use mind mapping software where ideas can be captured on computer and expanded for future use or a smart board.
2. Have students examine the prepared slides of various plant tissues. The students should make detailed drawings in their notebooks. Have them label the nucleus, cell wall, chloroplasts etc. Have them correlate their drawings to any that might be found in their text book. For example after sketching an example of a root hair the student will describe the structure purpose of the root and root hair. The student should also note what importance the root is for ecosystems. They should note how it provides a good food source for some herbivores and helps to prevent erosion by holding onto the soil around it.
3. If time permits go back to the general question "What makes a plant a plant?" The students answers should now be much more deliberate and detailed.
The teacher should walk around the classroom during the examination of the plant tissues. Questions should be asked of each student asking them what is it that they see in each slide now, how is it different from the previous slide. At the end of this session their notebooks should be filled with ideas and concepts
· Have students read the chapters in their text book on plant structure.
· Complete a list of defined words.
Class 2 Plant Biodiversity
In this class the students will be taken outdoors to get a first hand appreciation of the number of plants that exists right outside our doors. First they need to aware of the different phyla or divisions of plants. Students should be aware how they possibly evolved from green algae. As each division is introduced be sure to include evolutionary adaptations that helped the phyla to thrive in its surroundings. It's a good idea to center your discussion with plants they will most likely encounter in the vicinity of the school by introducing them using a field guide. When the students are outside they should look at the various identification properties of plants. Trees are a good starting point since many trees can be identified by the shape of their leaves, texture of their bark and the shape of the seed. As you examine each specimen make sure they the take notes to the following questions Where is the plant is located? Is it in full sun or shady conditions? Are there any animals that feed on it? Does it provide shelter for any other animal? Does it compete with any other plants? Does it look healthy?
Also look at soil conditions in your area. What kind of soil is it? What is its Ph? What is its moisture content? Explore reasons why the plant density and diversity is the way it is.
· Students will be able to describe the major plant phyla (divisions) and describe the life cycle of each of them.
· Student will identify the plants found in the neighborhood.
· Live examples of various plant types ( ferns, moss, conifer etc)
· Examples of plant pressings from common plant from around the neighborhood
· PowerPoint presentations of each of the major plant divisions found in New Haven
· Various plant identification booklists
Activities and Procedures
1) With the examples of a moss and an angiosperm, ask the students to compare and contrast the differences between the plants we see here. Look at their leaves, stems, and height? How do they reproduce?
2) Show students a power point project of each of the major plant divisions. Showing each phlya's identification properties and reproduction methods.
3) Introduce the terms biotic, abiotic factors and competition
4) Bring the students on a walk around the neighborhood. Students will be asked to identify tree and grass species using the field guides provided. Student should take note of density, health, shade, nearby plants and soil conditions.
If by chance the weather is uncooperative arrangements could be made to visit the local natural history museum where they may have the local flora catalogued. In New Haven we have access to the Herbanium at Yale-Peabody Museum where there are thousands of mounted specimens from the area dating back to the early nineteenth century.
1) Students will make their own power point presentation on each of the major plant phyla covered. Teachers hint: Use the best ones for next year's demonstration.
2) Student will make a dried plant collection of various assigned local plants
Class 3 What are the Animals?
In this class the students look at what is the difference between a plant and an animal. The students should be clear in their understanding that animals are heterotrophs while the plants they studied earlier are autotrophs. The AP curriculum places a major emphasis on structure and function. Teachers should work on building the students vocabulary of animal anatomy. The class could be broken up into several other classes with dissections of several diversified species
· Students will be able to identify the major properties of animal identification
· Prepared slides of various animal cells
· Prepared animal specimens for demonstration
· Access to the internet.
Activities and Procedures
1) Start the class with a high level conversation of the properties of the animals. It might even be a good idea to bring in the rabbit and geranium from the first class again so the students have some thing to focus their attention on.
2) Take the students down to the computer lab with a detailed list of questions you would like them to answer about the animals.
· What are the 3 dermal layers found in many species,
· What organs will be found in each dermal layer?
· What types of symmetry do we find in animals?.
· Make sure you use high order cognitive questions since students are very tempted to use cut and paste answers
3) Have student look at the animal cells on the microscopes. See if they notice the lack of cell walls.
The teacher should walk around the computer lab during the research time. Ask each student a follow up question. Gage how well she or he will answer without using their notes
Have students read the chapters in their text book on the animal structure and animal phylogenetics
Complete a list of defined words.
Class 4 Animal Biodiversity
In this unit the students will begin to get a appreciation for the spectrum of animal diversity we have in our neighborhood. The class starts with exploring the terrestrial animal phylum looking at their form and structure. Emphasis will be made on evolution of features from phylum to phylum. We will also look at the properties that will allow us to identify a species. Later we will go outside to see what we have learned by trying to identify some of the animals we come across. While we are outside the students will also be encouraged to describe the surrounding biotic and abiotic factors that may affect each individual organism we encounter.
· Students will be able to describe terrestrial animal phyla including life cycle.
· Students will be able to identify the animals found in the neighborhood.
· Insect collections from around the neighborhood
· Various plant identification books
Activities and Procedures
1) Start with another brainstorming session of what is the difference between the various animals we see here. How are they the same how are they different? Look at their legs, body segments, locomotion, methods of food procurement How do they reproduce?
2) Begin a discussion on the various phyla with the division between the vertebrates and invertebrates. Emphasis should be placed on the insects since they are the most numerous in terms of total species.
3) Bring the students on a walk around the neighborhood. Students will try to identify various animals they see using the field guides provided. Student should take note of health and shade, nearby plants and soil conditions. Introduce again the terms biotic and abiotic factors and competition
1) Students will make their own power point presentation on each animal phyla covered. Teachers hint: Use the best ones for next years demonstration.
2) Students will make a insect collection of various assigned local insects.
Class 5 Exploring a habitat
Up to this time all the species have been looked at in isolation. The students can identify many plant and animal species and recall their lifecycles. The students will go outside and quantify the relationship between plant and animal species in a habitat. The students will mark off an area and count the number of species they find. When they get back to the classroom they can compare notes and try to induce an explanation for their findings. In the end of this class they should come to realize how reliant each species is upon other species for food and protection.
· Students will count the number of plant and animals species in an assigned area.
· Students will quantify the relationship between plant diversity and animal diversity.
· Insect nets
· Magnifying glasses
· Collecting jars
· Hand trowels
· String and stakes
· Field guides
· Meter sticks
· Soil test kit
Activities and procedures
1). Students will go outdoors to an assigned area in teams of 2. They will mark out an area outdoors in of 1 meter by 1 meter. Now they will identify and count the different plant species in their plot. Next they will identify and count the number of animal species they find. Most probably they will mostly find insects or other Arthropods. Remind them that insect larvae can be found in the soil.
2) Have them now extend the study area out to a 2 meter by 2 meter area. Follow the same counting procedures as above
3) Extend your collection area to 9 square meters. Follow the collection and identification techniques as above. If time permits you may extend the subsequent collection areas to 16, 25 and 36 square meters
4) Have students take notes of abiotic factors in their habitat such as temperature, date, time, shade conditions and soil condition whether the field was mowed.
5) Back in the classroom have the students share their results with each other . They should also make the following line graphs using their own team's data: Plant specie count versus size of collection area, Animal specie count versus size of collection area. Then, using combined data plot number of species of animal versus number of species of plants.
For classroom discussion ask the students the following questions
1) Why did each team have different specie densities? The students should be looking at possible differences in the abiotic factors. Perhaps pesticides or herbicides are used in one region of study but not in others.
2) What is the correlation between plant diversity and animal diversity? The results should produce a positive correlation between the two factors since the more types of plants there are in an area the more types of animals that can feed off it.
3) Ask the students what can be done to increase the biodiversity in their own neighborhoods.
· Students should create a lab report on their findings
Perhaps later you can bring the students back to the same areas at a different season to compare the effects of seasonality on biodiversity. Also take a field trip to a totally different environment and perform the experiment again. This would be a good way to compare the productivity of urban versus rural areas.