Reflection: Student Ownership Modeling Human Impact Part 2: Building the Ecocolumn - Section 4: Putting it all together


One of the things that became obvious as we were going through the lengthy process of determining the final specifications of everyone's bottle was the fact that we had reached a bottleneck in our construction.  In other words, most students in each group were eager to complete the construction process, but the workflow kept jamming up at decision points, "Ok... how many centimeters should the soil level measure from the cap?", "alright... who agrees that 600 mL of water is too much?", etc.  As these questions were posed to the whole group, I felt like I was struggling to keep the train on the tracks, so to say... some students just weren't interested in the specifications.


In the end, since several tasks don't really require such questions answered (such as removing the labels, washing out the bottles, mixing the soil, etc) I found it more useful to have a "design team" made up of one member from each group.  This group then wrestled with the merits of 600 mL of clean water versus 250mL of clean water and 250mL of pond water and so on.  

The decision making process was then much more efficient as there were only a handful of votes and decision makers.  The entire construction process was more efficient as well because while the design team was working out the exact specifications, the other group members were removing labels, washing bottles, crushing leaves, mixing soil, etc.  Once the design team came to agreement on the specifications, the rest of the construction went pretty smoothly.  

  Division of Labor
  Student Ownership: Division of Labor
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Modeling Human Impact Part 2: Building the Ecocolumn

Unit 2: The Nature of Environmental Science
Lesson 13 of 17

Objective: Students will prepare and stock the aquatic (water, gravel and algae) and terrestrial (soil and seeds) chambers made from 2 Liter bottles and then construct their ecocolumns.

Big Idea: In this lesson, students construct the ecocolumn they will use to study the effects of a specific variable (e.g., fertilizer) on vegetable growth and populations of aquatic micro-organisms.

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Science, microbiology, experimental design, environment relationship, Environmental Science, eutrophication, experiment, semester, ethics
  80 minutes
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