Lesson: Ecosystem Anomalies
This is the lesson: Ecosystem Anomalies. Students are required to identify, support, explore, and explain a 1 meter stretch of an ecosystem using a hula hoop, a notepad, and their instincts. The ecosystem will feature one anomaly that they must locate, observe, document, and defend.
This is a great outdoor exercise as it’s really easy and low cost to implement and deploy. It’s fun to hide various anomalies in ecosystems (one lone plant, a star wars action figure, a bone) and have students make educated and critical guesses as to whether it was there originally or not.
- Hula Hoops (enough for two students to share a hoop)
- A series of anomalies to hide –
- I am partial to plastic aquarium plants as they are incredibly lifelike and REQUIRE careful observation
- I also like to plant live plants with a different soil matrix like peat moss or styrofoam
- Hide a few funny things as well, but also try to hide a plant
- Teach students how to identify dangerous or invasive species like poison ivy, ivy or thistle
- A trowel and a hand rake
- A brown paper bag for collecting evidence of their anomaly
- A notepad
- A pen or pencil
- Determine the general areas that will be your ecosystems for survey
- Randomly hide the anomaly ahead of time
- Parse out teams to explore the environment of their one meter ecosystem
- Discuss with the students what the parameters and expectations are for this survey
- Share with them common dangerous plants using this PDF
- Deploy them in 10 minute forays and meet up again after each foray
- Debrief their findings and have a conversation
- Discuss what students can determine from this small survey
- What kind of ecosystem where they looking at?
- What was the volume of the ecosystem in terms of a 1 meter block like you find in Minecraft
- Can ecosystems exist underground, in the air, in water?