Assessments - Site Index
A fifth grade classroom at Canyon View School has decided to be involved in a research task for the Franklin County Historical Society. Students have been asked to gather information on the plants, birds and animals found in our local shrub steppe habitat and to share their data collecting techniques. They were also asked to develop a presentation for the local historical museum as well as contribute to a Lewis and Clark Website.Project
Their research on plants, birds and animals in the canyon near their school will then be compared with data from another nearby shrub steppe site. This information will then be compared to the vegetation and animals that were recorded in the Lewis and Clark journals. Canyon View students are collaborating with two other schools in their region to contribute information that will be used at the Franklin County Historical Museum. The three schools will also develop a Website for the celebration of the Lewis and Clark bicentennial.
There are 27 students and two teachers participating in the project. The reading levels of these students vary from second to sixth grade. The class is a blend of 44% minority with a mix of socioeconomic backgrounds. There is an even mix of males and females.
This project will take place for approximately four weeks in the fall and again for four weeks in the spring. One hour of class time per session is expected.
(After field testing this project, we have decided to extend this project to cover three years; if several classes worked on various aspects of the project and collaborated, it could be done in a year). Our modified plan includes further development and refinement of sample hebariums for the school and museum, development of a Kid Pix presentation - focusing on plants one year, adding animal data another year, etc. Another group of students will focus on developing Webpages. Students will sign up to work on the various aspects of the project as requested by the Class of 98-99 who were unable to finish the project.
The teachers (prior to the students' involvement) labeled posts at the top of the canyon fence that separated the playground from the canyon with numbers from 1-50. Students were then divided into seven heterogeneous groups of four and assigned a designated area for their field work. (Students filled out an index card requesting their top three choices of study; their teacher developed research groups from that information.)
The entire class and both teachers will do a walk-through of the study site to sketch the area and collect plant samples. They return to the room to press their plant samples with layers of newspaper and textbooks. Excess plant samples are discarded or used in an art project.
An overview of commonly used scientific field techniques is shared with the students. They in turn will select the types of plant and animal data collection techniques which best complement their study site. Samples of possible data collection sheets are reviewed and selected.
In the following days, groups are given several tasks to complete. One teacher oversees students as they complete their herbariums by researching and identifying their plant specimens. Some students are using a variety of plant resource books or a sample herbarium, while others are checking the Web for a photo herbarium and other plant related resources. Specimens are carefully mounted to the 5" X 8" index cards, labels are completed and clear contact paper is added to help preserve the herbarium specimens. Students will also try to determine if their specimen is a native or alien species.
The other teacher takes two groups of students out to the study site to gather data. Data collecting techniques may include completing five-minute point counts, making bird observations and completing some form of plant and animal data collection, i.e., hoop transect or Daubenmire plot. Each group will summarize their plot data for dominant species, number of native species, alien species and evidence of animals and birds sited. This information will then be shared with classmates.
Canyon View students will then share their compiled information about native/alien plant species, bird and animal data with students at Southgate. The Amistad students will hopefully be able to verify our native species from information they have gleaned from the Lewis and Clark journals. E-mail, CU-SeeMe-type technology and digital pictures will be used to share information with the two other school sites.
All the plant, bird and animal data collected by the Canyon View and Southgate students will then be shared with the Lewis and Clark research teams at Amistad. We will then be able to compare today's findings with those of the men of the Corps of Discovery as they traveled through our shrub steppe region.
We expect some of our students will also be curious about some of the jobs men in the corps had and will want to research those jobs. Other students may wish to focus on some of the Native American groups that were encountered by Lewis and Clark's men. There are several excellent Websites dealing with the Corps of Discovery and Lewis and Clark expedition for the students to explore.
Once all the data is compiled and shared with the other school sites, students will then focus on revising and refining field investigations, developing the "Then and Now"multimedia presentation for the Franklin County Historical Society and collaborating on creating the Website for the Lewis and Clark bicentennial.
Brainstorming then begins on how all these tasks can be done. Several students ask about how to collect plant data, bird and animal data; and what resources they might use to identify animals and plant specimens. Another student asks if they will need to create charts or graphs to show the results of their investigations. Questions then focus on how do scientists do these tasks and how can we contact someone at Battelle to help us.
Further discussions revolve around how to develop a multimedia presentation for the Franklin County Museum. Students feel fairly comfortable with the Kid Pix format and focus their discussion of what information they might include in the "Then and Now" Journey with Lewis and Clark.
The thought of contributing to the development of a Lewis and Clark Website has the kids really excited, yet apprehensive, since its something they've never done before. They have lots of questions about designing a Website.
Another student asks if she can do research on the Native Americans that Lewis and Clark encountered in our area. Someone else asks about the types of jobs the members of the Corps of Discovery had and volunteers to research that topic.
Questions then come up about how the Canyon View students will be able to share their information and "talk" to the students at Southgate and Amistad. They have heard about videoconferencing, e-mail and using digital cameras from other projects being done in their schools.