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Environmental Education & Urban Teacher Initiative


Environmental Education & Urban Teacher Initiative

Environmental Education & Urban Teacher Initiative
A partnership of Michigan Technological University, Michigan Alliance for Environmental & Outdoor Education & Belle Isle Nature Zoo
with funding from the U.S. Forest Service

Field Investigations: Designing and Conducting Scientific Research Outside
9:00-3:30 pm, Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lisa Perez, Program Specialist
US Forest Service Urban Connections
640 Temple St., 6th Floor MSUE
Detroit, MI 48201
Tel: (313) 833-3278 office    Email: lperez@fs.fed.us

Joan Chadde, Education Program Coordinator
Western U.P Center for Science, Math & Environmental Education
Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach
105 Dillman Hall - Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Dr., Houghton, MI  49931-1295
Tel:  (906) 487-3341    Fax:  (906) 487-1620   Email:  jchadde@mtu.edu

Workshop Description:  Teachers will learn to design and implement effective inquiry-based field investigations that are  linked to the Michigan Grade Level Expectations. Students will construct knowledge of science content concepts related to life, physical, and earth science.


8:55 am   Welcome, Introductions, workshop overview, and credit options                          

  • Should we continue Saturday PD workshops or switch to multi-day workshops with overnight at nature center?

9:00        Essential Elements of Field-Based Scientific Inquiry

  • What can I monitor/measure with students on my school grounds? (30 minute walk outdoors)
  • Teacher teams brainstorm “questions” that their  students could answer by collecting data, i.e. conducting scientific research. in their schoolyard:
  • Biotic measurements: Insects, Birds, Plants, Animals
  • Abiotic measurements:  air temperature, soil temperature, precipitation (rain gauges), soil moisture
  • Group questions by research focus: insect, bird, soil, weather, wildlife, and by research approach: descriptive, comparative (times of year, different years, different locations, etc.), correlative
  • Correlation with K-7 Michigan GLCEs – Constructing New Scientific Knowledge

10:00      Demonstrate Schoolyard and Natural Area Investigations of birds, plants, animals, soils, weather

  • Data collection methods & equipment/supplies needed
  • Record-keeping (data forms, etc.)
  • Data analysis

                     (1) Insects (Lisa)

  • Sweep netting - field or lawn
  • Hula-Hoop sampling
  • Beat sampling - insects in saplings, shrubs)
  • Pit traps

(2) Plants & Soil  (Joan)

  • Transects (biodiversity)
  • Quadrats  (m2)or hula-hoops (productivity)
  • Soil texture, moisture, permeability

11:00       Switch groups; repeat 1 & 2

Noon      LUNCH
  12:30 pm            (3) Birds (Joan, Lori Golani, Candace Kawatsu)
                                (4) Animals & Weather (air temp, wind speed & direction, precip, etc.) (Lisa)

1:15        Switch groups; repeat 3 & 4

2:00    Planning Your Field Investigations

  • Student preparation, organizing student work groups, safety
  • Making interdisciplinary connections – reading, writing, math, science
  • Student assessment & sample rubrics
  • State and national environmental monitoring programs
  • US Forest Service: Investigating Your Environment (CD) and  Discover Your Forest

2:45 pm    Team planning – teachers meet by school or grade level to plan a scientific investigation

3:15-3:30pm       Evaluations & Closing

Monitoring Equipment
Insect pit trap
GPS units
Plasticine (for bird eggs)
Yarn loops (meter length)
Hoola hoops
PVC quadrats
Thermometers – air, soil
Plastic gallon jugs & large soup cans
Meter tape
Trowels or metal spoons
Supplies to make bird feeders – suet, onion bags, pine cones, peanut butter, black oil sunflower seeds, cornmeal, string, wire, foot-long ¼” diameter sticks
Hand lenses (10 classroom set)
Bug boxes (30 classroom set)



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