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Ecosystem Study

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Keywords: Ecosytem
Subject(s): Science
Grades 9 through 12
School: Sullivan East High School, Bluff City, TN
Planned By: Debra Smith
Original Author: Debra Smith, Bluff City
Objectives: The student will observe succession, food chains, elemental cycling and human impact on a balanced ecosystem over time.

Materials: glass gallon jar seine net trowel microscope pH paper research materials thermometer dissolved oxygen probe internet access
pipets slides cover slips

1.) The student will collect their ecosystem in a glass 1-gallon jar from a local pond or lake and collect samples of plants, animals and other organisms native to that body of water. The student will then sketch, photograph and fill out the intial survey form for their ecosystem.

2.) At regular intervals over the course of the class (I prefer every Friday) the student will take dissolved oxygen readings, pH readings, temperature readings, nitrogen and ammonia readings and search for organisms in their ecosystem. The organisms must be sketched acurately and researched to obtain their identification and role in the ecosystem. This goes on for eight months in a year long course or three months in a semester course.

3.) The students must use the microscope and their naked eyes to observe and sketch a minimum of 20 organisms. They then use dichotomous keys and other research materials to research their organisms

4.) In a journal book, they are to write detailed observations of the appearance of their ecosystems and populations every week. The more detailed, the more easily written the final paper is.

End Result: The product of this lab is a well written paper which includes a discussion of the observed succession over the passage of time, a detailed food web of the identified organisms in their ecosystem, and a hypothesis of how the element cycles are carried out in their minature ecosystem. Each of the twenty organisms must be identified, sketched and their trophic level identified. The paper includes graphs of the dissolved oxygen, pH and temperature which can be cited as evidence for the successive changes in their ecosystem. They must include a works cited page properly set up that shall include a minimum of thirty resources. There is a rubric that is used to grade the final project.

Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Can be tied to a math and graphing class. Also an English class where works cited pages or research papers are being taught.
Materials: Point and Shoot, Scientific, Microscopes, Hard Drives, Power, Keyboards, LCD Monitors, High, Word Processor, Authoring and Publishing
Other Items: 10 Moticams Microscopic Digital Cameras, $199.00 each, total of $1990.00
2 Logger Pro Data CD-Rom, $220.00 each, total of $440.00
2 Vernier LabPro Data Interfacers, $179.00 each, total of $358.00
1 Dissolved oxygen probes, $205.00 each, total of $205.00
1 Ammonia Probes, $175 each, total of $175.00
1 Nitrate Probes, $175 each, total of $175.00
2 pH probes, $79 each, total of $158.00