Reflection: Real World Applications Is All This Burning Necessary? (Part 1/4) - Section 3: Setting Up the Field Study


It is very important for students to pair their own inquiry with the findings from professional peer-reviewed studies. Students are instructed to set up an area in a local field to study over a two week period. They give input into the type of data they think would be important to collect.  Throughout  the two week period, student then compare their data with decadal studies from a local LTER site that is quite similar in topography to our local site. One of the first professional studies students use are the decadal studies comparing the effects of precipitation, temperature, burn treatment, grazing, and water quality on the prairie. 

As students set up their field site it is important to allow them to give some input concerning the type of data they think is important to collect.  My students complete a weather study the previous year in their Earth Science class so they typically choose to collect some data like what they would collect in the previous weather study. I also encourage them to collect plant specific data.  In this teaching reflection, I explain how I guide student in determining the types of data they should collect. It is my goal to help them collect meaningful data so that at the end of the two week study, they can draw some preliminary conclusions.

If students do not perform a short field study, they never fully understand the processes and methods that ecologists use to describe the biotic and abiotic interactions in the environment. They will also not understand the derived measurements that ecologists make to understand the changes seen in the ecosystem within plant and animal communities. At the same time, if students do not compare the long-term studies, they never will fully appreciate the long amount of time that scientists must wait to fully understand interrelationships within the ecosystem that is being studied.  

  Real World Applications: The importance of student-directed field studies
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Is All This Burning Necessary? (Part 1/4)

Unit 14: Ecology
Lesson 1 of 4

Objective: Students will conduct a two week study to determine fires role in maintaining a healthy prairie.

Big Idea: What makes one biome different from another? Find out today.

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Ecology, Science, cause and effect, Developing and Using Models, Systems and System Models, Ecosystem Dynamics, Scale, proportion, and quantity, Interdependence in Ecosystems, Using mathematics and computational thinking , Interdependence in Ecosystems, Using mathematics and computational thinking
  66 minutes
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