Reflection: Real World Applications Communities & Ecosystems (Day# 2 of 4) - Section 2: Anticipatory Set ("Hook")


Teaching Challenge: How can I develop my students' ability to apply unifying ideas to make connections across science content?

"Wildlife comes back." This student observation summarizes secondary succession simply and succinctly. Yes, life does seem to find a way despite the greatest odds against it. For me, to get kids enthused about natural phenomena as the hook is the first step to engaging their minds, hearts, and imaginations.

According to author John Medina, "Rule #4: People don't pay attention to boring things. We are better at seeing patterns and abstracting the meaning of an event than we are at recording detail. Emotional arousal helps the brain learn. Audiences check out after 10 minutes, but you can keep grabbing them back by telling narratives or creating events rich in motion." (Brain Rules)

In this sense, students are presented with a very dramatic and "in-your-backyard" sort of experience. One student asked,"When could it erupt again?" denoting a level of concern for personal safety. Another asked, "Is it still active?" and "How many people died?" The personal aspects of natural disasters are always compelling. I guess this is why Hollywood clamps onto this truth when making movies like San Andreas (earthquake-2015) Deep Impact (comet impact-1998) and Volcano (eruption-1997).

 Yes, life finds a way but only when the food chain is re-established. This student notes that, "Tiny plankton began growing in Spirit Lake after the eruption" (allowing the transformation of solar energy to chemical energy) and "Gopher holes allow other species to grow" (giving underground tunnels for amphibians to move while staying cool and moist thus increasing biodiversity in a wasteland rapidly rising from the dead).

  Real World Applications: Back from the Dead
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Communities & Ecosystems (Day# 2 of 4)

Unit 7: 7) Ecology ("Population Interactions")
Lesson 14 of 16

Objective: Students will understand the structure of ecosystems and how their members interact in complex ways in order to survive.

Big Idea: All living organisms and the environment are interconnected.

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