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Outdoor Science Adventures for Elementary Students Part 2
Part 2 of this field-based science curriculum from Oregon State University focuses on the integration of biotic and abiotic factors to create ecological communities. (Part 1, which investigates relationships within and between ecological communities, is described as a separate resource within this database.) Both curriculum units emphasize the ecology of three communities (forest, meadow, and pond) and were 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. Investigations in Part 2 cover soil types and characteristics, nutrient cycling, sunlight levels, and the water cycle—addressing how these factors affect the communities under study. Community mapping activities allow students to explore the location, boundaries, physical dimensions and characteristics, and the role of the pond, forest, and meadow. The activities in Maintaining Life in the Community let students investigate the factors that impact the quality of life in the three ecosystems and summarize how those factors are connected. The activities emphasize science process skills (such as observing, measuring, and predicting) and also teach students sampling and mapping techniques, chemical analyses, and the use of compasses and light and other meters. For a final project, students use their newly acquired skills to collect data at a new site and bring materials and collections back to share with others. A template for a field notebook, which serves as resource and learning tool, is included in the document.
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.