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Outdoor Science Adventures for Elementary Students Part 1
This extensive two-part, field-based elementary science curriculum from Oregon State University—which emphasizes the ecology of three communities (forest, meadow, and pond)—was designed to be used with students in a camp or other outdoor education setting. However, teachers can adapt individual activities to schoolyard or other local settings, since (with a few exceptions) the activities stand alone and can be used in any order. They include an overview, learning objectives, materials and procedural steps, teacher background, and supplementary information. Part 1 investigates relationships within and between ecological communities. (Part 2, which examines the integration of biotic and abiotic factors to create ecological communities, is described as a separate resource within this database.) In Part 1, students conduct a plant and animal survey and trace out “ecological connections” in forest, meadow, and pond communities. Specifically, for each community, students examine community characteristics, plant and animal characteristics, populations and adaptations, food chains and webs, energy and nutrient cycling, and the environmental and human impact on the communities. For a final project, students investigate one of four new sites using the knowledge, tools, and techniques gained earlier. A template for a field notebook is included in the document. By the end of the project, students should be able to identify three living communities by their plant and animal populations, develop an awareness of how organisms interact with their environments, be able to use scientific tools for ecological studies, and understand that communities are an integration of several parts.
Program Director: Daniel Arp, Ph.D.
Award Years: 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006
Summary: Oregon State University is a public research university in Corvallis, Oregon. Its HHMI-funded educational initiatives include:
- The Science Education Partnerships program, a K-12 science outreach effort that improves science and math education for teachers throughout the state and also provides alternative ways for children and families to make science an interesting part of family activities;
- Undergraduate summer research programs with formalized mentoring of students, a peer-reviewed undergraduate research journal, and research opportunities for students at Pacific Northwest schools and schools populated with traditionally underrepresented groups in science; and
- The SMILE STARS (Study Techniques, Academics, and Research Skills) program, which offers an eight-week intensive summer bridge program for selected high school graduates before their first year at OSU.