Contributor’s Name: Derek Starkenburg
Using our campus wetland pond as an outdoor classroom, we will explore aspects of biology and ecology, including an in-depth microbiology lab which examines samples take from our pond environment and tested in the laboratory (Gram-staining done with the assistance of graduate students from NCCU), as well as a series of interpretive trail signs about the various biotic and abiotic components of our pond ecosystem that most interest the students (free choice).
Geared Towards seventh,eighth
Curriculum: Curriculum – Science
Tags: Middle School

Kick off: “Our Pond” In this activity, students are asked to take their notebooks, a pencil, and some binoculars out to the campus pond and spend 10 minutes in silence observing from one location. Students will record at least three observations regarding aspects of the pond that they had not previously noted. Afterward, students will focus on the water and, with the directions of the guide, take direct measurements of the water properties.
Seminar Title: “What Kind of Fungus Are You” by Fisher et al, 2016.
Group Initiative: “Find An Ecosystem” By embarking on a scavenger hunt, students collect icons that represent the biotic components of their local ecosystem and put them together, along with their descriptions, to tell a story about how these organisms are interdependent on one another.
Project: Lab paper on the 2-part microbiology lab (collecting samples and subjecting them to Gram-staining) in the style of a professional journal article; Group interpretive trails signs on any biotic or abiotic component of our campus pond (student choice).
Discussion Topics: Ecological hierarchy, trophic levels, microbiology and its applications for health, microbiomes, wetland ecosystems, functions of a wetland, human-made wetlands (retention ponds).
Outside Opportunity: Working side-by-side with visiting graduate students from the North Carolina Central University biology department on the 2-part microbiology lab.

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starkenburg_year_B_cycle_2.zipMiddle School