Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE) Model Lesson - Pondwater Organism Investigation

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These model lessons were created by teachers participating in the Minnesota Department of Education's 2011-13 project, "Integrating Environmental and Outdoor Education into Grades 7-12" with funding from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Title of lesson: Pondwater Organism Investigation

Content area: Ecology
Grade level: 7

Learning objective: Students will find organisms in pond water and research them. They will take that information and create food chains and food webs from them.

Standard or benchmark addressed:
Science Total amount of matter in an ecosystem remains constant Roles and relationships between producers, consumers, and decomposers

Materials Needed:
Ice cream pails - pre made with 1/8 inch holes drilled in the bottom, and lines attached to them. Slip knot that goes around their wrist, like a wii remote, so the bucket stays. Use cotton twine to swing out into the water.
Lab sheet
Pond water organism identification sheet

Description of lesson and how it is adapted for EOE:
Students will preview the lab, including looking at the organisms that are likely to be found in your area. Students will go out and spread themselves out in the appropriate area. They will throw their buckets in a responsible manner to try to collect organisms. They record the organisms found and the numbers of organisms found.
Students then research briefly, about those organisms and construct a food web from what organisms they have found.

Teacher's role:
Create the fishing buckets, model how to appropriately toss the buckets, learn how to tie a slip knot, structure the lab for success; pick a relatively warm day.

Other resources needed:
Bring a scissors/knife and extra twine. The students are going to get the buckets tangled. Its easier/faster/more efficient to cut the line and re-tie it, so students can get back to work. Keep the line to reuse later.

How students are assessed:
Students will be assessed based on their level of engagement. It is not guaranteed that students will catch anything. Even if so, it may be hard to build a food web from it. Students will have filled out their lab sheet, researched any organisms they DID find and constructed as much of a food web or food chain as they can.

Time considerations:
The instruction and fishing should take two class periods, depending on your group and your location. The research and food webs should take no more than one class period. If you choose an extension activity, obviously allow for extra time.

Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE) Model Lessons are freely available for use by all teachers for educational purposes only.

Rick Wilson, Kennedy Community School, St. Joseph, MN
Topic Areas: 
Food Chain
Target Audience: 
Grades Pre K-12
Geographic Location: 
All Minnesota
Enhancements / Connections: 

Students can look to include surrounding ecosystems in their food web. Perhaps amphibious creatures can be included that interact with the pond water organisms.
You could also hold Pond Water Elections. Each student would select which of the organisms found (all organisms, not just the ones they were able to catch) would make the best president of the pond. When they make their choice, place them into their groups. They will then work together to craft a speech or debate points to present to the class.

Date Produced/Published: 
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