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FlipCam Field Trip - Habitat Exploration

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Keywords: Flip Video, Ecosystems, Habitat, Niche, Ecology
Subject(s): Life Science, Earth Science, Information Skills, Biology, Science
Grades 7 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
View Full Text of Standards
School: Southfield-Lathrup High Sch, Lathrup Vlg, MI
Planned By: Anne LaSovage
Original Author: Anne LaSovage, Lathrup Vlg
Students will take a field trip to a local county park or nature preserve that has several distinct habitat types. Each team of students will document as many distinct habitats as they can and ultimately present their video products to the rest of the class. (Variations possible) If used with a biology class, this can be the majority of the assignment. If used with an A.P. Environmental Science class, this may supplement the lab portion of the field activities.

Capture video footage of as many distinct habitats as you can find. In your footage, incorporate species and plant types that are typical of the area, as well as typical environmental (abiotic) conditions. If animal life is present, document that too! For example, the plants in a marsh (grassy wetland) area are different than the plants you find in a swamp (wooded wetland) or a deciduous forest. The amount of water, wind, sun and shade are also different. Your final video should be a virtual tour of the habitat types of the park we are visiting.

Expectation Range for Products:

Minimum: video footage of each site, its abiotic conditions and typical biota

Better: video footage and voice over explaining what we are seeing

Even better: all of the above plus labels and identification of what type of biomes or habitats you have (this could be done using portable whiteboards, for example)

Wow: all of the above plus comparing and contrasting habitat types, how you know where one habitat type ends and another begins; any additional in-depth information to complement your video

Performance and Assessment:
Students will share their videos with the class after returning to the classroom. Assessment will be based on number of distinct habitats identified, correctness and depth of supporting information (images, voiceover, etc.), and overall quality communication through the video format.
Note: Students may share raw footage, or if time and resources permit, teachers may allow a day of editing before final presentations.

These can be used as enrichment, or as an alternative to the above project.

Habitat and Organisms: In addition to (or instead of) the habitat types documentation, students can focus on one habitat in particular. They should take a much deeper look into a single organism. Ideally this organism is present and able to be videotaped, but if not, can still be used (prior research may be necessary). Focus should be on how this organism is getting food, water, shelter and space, and why it could not get the same in a different habitat, and on the structures of the organism that make it adapted for this type of habitat. For example: salamanders in the deciduos forest, redwinged blackbirds in the marsh and so on.

Habitat and Humans: Students will look for footage of how humans have and are impacting the habitat. This can include any impact at ll, including the sound of airplanes or cars.

Each team can be assigned one habitat to study in depth (including all extensions) instead of trying to find the most habitats

Other notes:
Depending on the class and timing of the trip, this activity could be used as part of a cumulative assessment for an ecology unit. Alternatively, students can tape footage as a unit opener and then determine the habitat type after the fact based on information learned laer in the unit. The premise offers a lot of room for differentiation based on the needs of the individual class. Compiled videos could be burned onto a CD for sharing with parents or other classes,
It is more environmentally friendly to use rechargeable batteries, particulary with so many cameras. In that case, 3-5 battery chargers, and at least 4 (-6) batteries per camera would be necessary to allow for camera accessibility while batteries are charged.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Creative writing/Art - students could write poetry or essays from the perspective of an organism in the habitat, or could use the videos as inspiration for descriptive poems (this is a unit in our English classes)
Some follow up activities are included in the lesson
Materials: Video Cameras, Flip Video, Batteries, CDs and DVDs
Other Items: 5 Energizer DE5689 Smart AA/AAA NiMH Battery Charger, $20 each, total of $100.00
5 Rechargeble batteries:Eveready - e2 NiMH Rechargeable Batteries, AAA, 4/pack - Pack of 4, $14 each, total of $70.00
5 Batteries - 12 pack (pref lithium), $9 each, total of $45.00