Schoolyard Biodiversity Investigation Educator Guide
The Schoolyard Biodiversity Investigation provides students with the opportunity to learn about biodiversity in a tangible and available environment – their own schoolyard. Whether the campus is a sea of cement and grass or contains a diverse garden or forest, the opportunity for students to investigate first-hand will deepen their understanding of biodiversity, ways to measure it, and the impact people have on it. After looking at their schoolyards, students can then apply their newly-gained knowledge to understand biodiversity and its deeper issues in their local habitats, as well as in far-reaching places. The Schoolyard Biodiversity Guide builds upon student’s field investigation skills, including formulating a hypothesis, designing and implementing an investigation, analyzing data and developing conclusions. For more information, please see the Pacific Education Institute’s Field Investigations: Using Outdoor Environments to Foster Student Learning of Scientific Processes. A downloadable pdf is available at: http://www.pacificeducationinstitute.org/resources/research/.
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If we collected vegetation or animal data at a different time of the year, would we get the same Diversity Index calculations? Why or why not?
An area with lots of weeds might score a high Diversity Index. Does a high Diversity Index always mean a habitat is healthy? Why or why not?
- What are some limitations or problems with random sampling to calculate diversity? (random samples don’t cover all areas; students may not have collected data from enough sample areas; some people have more experience indentifying differences in plants and animals, etc.)
- What does biological diversity mean?
- What is a monoculture?
- Why didn’t all the different trees get the disease? (hint - genetics)
- In which forest would you need to use more chemicals to control disease: the Douglas fir forest or the more varied forest? Why?
- Which forest would have more diversity of wildlife? Why?
- If you cut down a forest that has a variety of trees and replanted with one type of tree:
- What will happen to much of the wildlife that was adapted to that prior forest? (Hint: they can always just move elsewhere. If other habitats are good, they will probably be near carrying capacity already. In other words, the surrounding areas may already have good-sized populations growing in them.)
- Will this happen to all the wildlife? Explain.
- Growing one plant, as is the case of growing only Douglas-fir, is called monoculture. Besides in neighborhoods, where else might we find monocultures?
- Colored Pencils
- Campus Maps
- Plain paper for student-created maps
- Large butcher paper and copy of school map for large, cut-up map
- Schoolyard Biodiversity Data Sheets (1 set for investigation, extra copies for practice, as needed)
- Vegetation Survey Data Sheet
- Wildlife Survey Data Sheet
- Alien Planet Habitat and Key (1 set per pair of students)
- Tape measures
- Pre-measured rope or tape measure
- “Flagged sticks” (sticks or pencils with flagging tape tied on top) – 4 per plot
- Student Instructions for Vegetation Survey (this paper)
- Schoolyard Biodiversity Investigation – Vegetation Survey – Data collection sheet
- Invasive Plant Identification Cards