Monday, September 8, 2008

Our 100 Species Backyard Survey Project

This is the worksheet I made up for our inaugural Biology project. I expect it to take 2-3 weeks.
  1. Make a map of the backyard with landmarks (trees, fence posts, etc.). (You can do the front yard too.) Divide into sections and label each section. Use these section labels in the Place column.
  2. Take a small notebook and number the pages 1-100.
  3. Get a pen and the camera.
  4. Working together, covering one section at a time, go around and catalogue each different time of life form you see. Note whether it is animal, plant, fungus or simpler forms (algae, slime mold, etc.) in the Type column.
  5. As you identify each new species:
    1. Take a photograph of it;
    2. Fill out the chart below;
    3. Mark where you found it by putting a number on the map;
    4. Write a description of it on the numbered page in the notebook.
  6. See how long it takes to come up with 100 different species.
  7. Microscopic species count. You can take a sample of pond water inside to observe under the microscope. Since taking photos may not work, you will have to draw a diagram.
  8. If you don’t know the name of something, look it up later using the photo and description.
  9. When you are finished, analyze the data. Some questions to ask:
    1. Where were the most living things found?
    2. Were certain types found grouped together?
    3. Which kinds seemed to be interdependent (eg, ladybugs and corn)?
  10. Finally, put all the information together in a book.

I also made up a chart for them to fill in. When everything's entered on the computer, we can analyze the data.









A note on what I'm trying to do with this year's homeschooling biology studies:

Looking at the labs required by New York State (just to get some idea of what the high schools are doing), I discovered that not all labs are done in the laboratory! Some are just simulations, or thought experiments. And of course many of the labs are designed so that data is plugged in and results extracted in an identical format for every student. So I'm hoping that our informal observations and experiments will be just as useful as what the kids would have done in school.

I am speaking here, too, as someone who stayed home "sick" from public school whenever we were supposed to do a dissection! About which more in later posts...

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