On the final day of work before students share their work by presenting to stakeholders tomorrow, groups put the finishing touches on tri-folds and formulated responses to questions they should anticipate during their presentations. Each student should be prepared to share their understanding of the following list of questions:
- What exactly are algae?
- How do algae obtain energy?
- How do algae fit into the ecosystem?
- How do algae make more algae?
- What does it mean for algae to “bloom”?
- Why do algae bloom?
- When do algae bloom?
- What happens to the ecosystem when algae bloom?
- Why do algae only bloom at certain times?
- What are the conditions that lead to algal blooms?
- Why do algal blooms end?
There are a number of excellent resources on the Internet to help students formulate answers to these questions and many more. Here are a selection:
Such talented students at Highline High School! With several students out of class today preparing for the Homecoming assembly, and short class periods, we reviewed the concept of ecosystem. We integrated biotic and abiotic factors (two vocabulary words learned yesterday). We defined an ecosystem as the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) factors present in a given space. We constructed a diagram of a model ecosystem, with students recalling that factors such as plants, animals, birds, insects, water, air, soil, rocks, buildings, mountains, and even the Sun can all be considered factors in an ecosystem. We characterized the various factors as biotic (for example, plants, animals, insects, and birds) or abiotic (for example, water, air, buildings, rocks, mountains, and the Sun). We discussed the fact that biotic factors are often found in direct contact with abiotic factors, and both types of factors are necessary for life as we know it. For example, bacteria are commonly found in all of the abiotic factors listed (except for the Sun!). We then watched the first 16 minutes of episode 6 of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos series. In the video segment, Dr. Tyson explores the ecosystem of a dew drop. We were introduced to the tardigrade – an instant class favorite! Season 1 of Cosmos is currently available streaming on Netflix.
What a week! We took advantage of the summer-like weather early in the week with a survey of our local school ecosystem. We then transitioned to a deep-dive reading of matter and energy cycling in an ecosystem, and wrapped up with Lesson 6, where students shared their learning with their group members to construct two models of matter and energy cycling. Students received a graphic organizer to help them compare and contrast the cycling of carbon, water, and nitrogen (CHON) as well as energy on two very different ecological scales. For the large scale, we evaluated matter and energy cycling of a more generic ecosystem like the Puget Sound region. For the smaller scale, we focused on our school campus. Students realized that some, but not all, aspects of matter and energy cycling are present on our school campus in contrast to what is found in the larger Puget Sound region. Next week they will craft and deliver presentations to the class explaining the ecological implications of, and possible solutions to, separating a school campus from the native local ecosystem.
We made it! Enjoy your hard-earned week off and don’t forget to finish reading your evolution unit articles. Responses to the readings are due at the beginning of class when you return from break. In preparation for our final unit, I have reached out to the crytpocurrency community on Twitter to help us add an interesting twist to our study of Systems Biology. We have already had some amazing individuals and companies step up and make some big donations! A list of donors will be kept on the Cryptocurrency page of the blog. If you have a Twitter account, please be sure to follow our donors and send them a huge thank you!