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Tech Savvy Naturalists

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Keywords: Science, Biology, Movie Making, Software, Technology, Journalism, Community
Subject(s): Art, Video, Social Skills, Technology, Geography, Early Learning, Dyslexia, Life Science, Special Needs, Writing, Animation, Music, Reading, Information Skills, Biology, Photography, Social Studies, English/Language Arts, Spelling, Service Learning, Grammar, Science, Journalism, Drama, Math
Grades P-K through 8
School: Annunciation School, Albuquerque, NM
Planned By: Colleen Ruiz
Original Author: Colleen Ruiz, Albuquerque
1. Instill an appreciation of nature in our students.
2. Students will develop animal and plant classification skills.
3. Students will learn about ecology and the habitats of local and exotic plants and animals.
4. Students will utilize technology such as digital cameras, digital video cameras, and movie maker software, to present and share their scientific research.
5. Students from Preschool to 8th grade will participate in a long term documentary project that is passed down and improved upon yearly and is shared with our community.


Each spring the science lab is bombarded with students of all sizes bringing in praying mantises, lady bugs, beetles, and butterflies. What if we armed our budding scientists with digital cameras and flip video cameras to document a spider spinning its web or a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis? It would be a memorable experience for students to use claymation to illustrate the life cycle of a frog into a movie that could be shared with our kindergarten classes and our community.


1. Documentation of Plants and Animals:
a. 3rd grade will travel to the BioPark/Aquarium to take pictures of flowers, plants, dragon flies, butterflies, fish, sharks, etc.
b. 4th grade will go to the East Mountain Nature Center to take pictures and video of local plants and animals that live in our local mountainous habitat.
c. 5th grade will journey to the local river habitat and zoo to take pictures and video of the local and exotic plants and animals.

2. Project Descriptions:

a. 3rd grade teams will create topical digital field guides such as Flower Power, Interesting Insects, or Fascinating Fish. The field guides will scientifically classify the plants and animals, point out specific survival adaptations, and include scanned student artwork educational activities, and clip art. Digital copies of the field guides will be provided to the Biopark/Aquarium for posting on their website in the education section.
b. 3rd grade teams will also make claymation videos that illustrate the life cycles of frogs, butterflies, lady bugs etc… These videos will be posted on www.teachertube.com for community use.
c. 4th grade students will compile a slide show of pictures and video of New Mexico’s mountain habitats. They will illustrate the different species that thrive at different altitudes to explain adaptations. Students will also create background instrumental music for the slideshow during music class.
d. 5th grade students will conduct research to match zoo animals to biomes. They will “travel” the world’s biomes in a video production that describes climates, animals, and ecosystems. The video will then turn local to describe the different habitats within New Mexico. The students will identify human activities that harm our ecosystems and promote activities that help ensure survival of endangered animals. This video will be made available through the zoo’s website, our local Open Space, and on www.teachertube.com


Students will receive grades based on the thoroughness and professional appearance of their projects. Students will receive checklist rubrics at the beginning of each project that outline the expectations for an A, B, C etc… Students will work in groups to learn teamwork and share resources.


Partnerships between seven homeroom, two technology, and one science teacher within the school will be strengthened during these projects. We will also enlist the cooperation of our local zoo, biopark, aquarium, and open space contacts to provide site specific information and access.
We are grateful for business' interest in education and happy to provide credit to any donors in our productions.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
While making these videos and nature guides, students will utilize grammar, spelling, punctuation, math, social studies, technology, and science skills.
We plan to build off these activities annually to create a digital database of student projects to share with our community and provide inspiration.
Materials: Flip Video, DVD Camcorder, Wildlife, Networked Projectors, Projector Screens, Art Tools, Video Tools, Printers, Camera Bags, Tripods, Reading, Writing, Elementary, Middle, Social Studies, Early Learning, Games, Authoring and Publishing, Slideshow, Clip Art, Animation, Pro Composition, Early Composition, Sound Libraries, Integrating Technology