Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Modeling Human Impact Part 3: Managing the Project - Section 5: The Debrief: Wrapping up the project


*with apologies to T.S. Eliot


This project started off on such a high note, and while I’d hate to label it a “dud”, it didn’t quite maintain that explosive energy throughout the whole project.  One of the main reasons is the fact that it just kept going on and on, until the end of the semester.  Enthusiasm tends to wane for almost anything over time, and this project, sadly, was no exception.  My students were enthused during the planning, construction, and first week or two of data collection, but when data collection became something that had to be done in addition to homework, other projects, presentations, and so on, many groups tended to just go through the motions.

One reason enthusiasm may have waned was the fact that some groups plants never grew beyond tiny sprouts, either through dumb luck of having bad seeds or (more likely) through a growth-inhibiting variable (e.g., one of my groups chose to add salt to their soil and another group mixed their soil with powdered gelatin).  Not having plants to observe made the top terrestrial chamber nigh completely uninteresting for these groups.  

A similar situation occurred for many groups in their aquatic chambers.  For reasons we didn’t really get to explore (since they would likely require setting up a new experiment), the aquatic chambers suffered a crash in species diversity.  During our first session with the microscope, students were excited to see many micro-invertebrates and motile protists (planaria, amoeba, etc).  After a few weeks, though, the water had turned a much deeper shade of green in many chambers, and although this did allow for a “Here we go, this is eutrophication in action!  your variable has caused an algal bloom!” moment or two, investigating this deep green “landscape” with a microscope revealed fairly regular, immotile algae.  As exciting as this to some, students seem to overwhelmingly prefer “wriggling little monsters” to “a bunch of green circles”.     

In the end, it felt like we had just run out of steam on the project.  We were on to discussing more compelling topics in class and, try as I did, I couldn’t always authentically connect them to the ecocolumns.  

Does this mean the project was a failure?  Not in the least.  It turned out to be a great opportunity to explore the scientific method in action, it allowed students to improve their technical skills with microscopes, it challenged them to be more articulate and precise in their collection of qualitative and quantitative data, and it gave me the opportunity to have students use a platform (google docs) that increased our interactions and helped me give more timely feedback than I otherwise would on a large project where everything is turned in “at the end”.  

In light of all this, I think I may choose to use this project to open my course next year.  As much as I love the vertigo/equilibrium lab, this may end up being a better way to focus on the scientific method and develop skills that will be useful all year long, while immediately diving into the environmental science content.    

  This is how a project ends... not with a bang but a whimper*
  Adjustments to Practice: This is how a project ends... not with a bang but a whimper*
Loading resource...

Modeling Human Impact Part 3: Managing the Project

Unit 2: The Nature of Environmental Science
Lesson 14 of 17

Objective: Students will be able use appropriate tools to collect data and monitor the progress of an ongoing scientific investigation.

Big Idea: An ongoing project requires a plan to manage over the long term.

  Print Lesson
33 teachers like this lesson
Similar Lessons
A Written Response to "On the Rainy River"
11th Grade ELA » The Things They Carried
Big Idea: Making sense of the paradox of going to war because you are not brave enough not to.
Los Angeles, CA
Environment: Urban
Martha Soto
Robert Frost and Escapism
11th Grade ELA » Modernist Poetry
Big Idea: Frost freezes out reality to escape the mundane.
Taunton, MA
Environment: Suburban
Julie Ferreira
Advice from a King
12th Grade ELA » Beowulf
Big Idea: A well-written thesis statement can enhance a paper, and textual evidence is essential to supporting a thesis statement.
Whitehall, MT
Environment: Rural
Caitlin  Chiller
Something went wrong. See details for more info
Nothing to upload