The Tree/Web of Life (Lesson 16: Biodiversity)

The Hall of Biodiversity
Field Trip to the American Museum of Natural History

Biodiversity deals with the spectacular variety of life, and the essential interdependence among living things. This field trip addresses the idea that interconnected webs bind living organisms together, and sustain biodiversity. The Natural History Museum offers not only a number of resources in the Hall of Biodiversity, but also at the museum Web site. These two resources can be used in a complementary manner. In order to define the overall objective for the excursion, three aspects of the exhibit were taken into consideration. First, the definition of biodiversity in terms of structure (variety) and function (interdependence) of the biomes; second, the transformations of the biosphere, including its effects on biodiversity and the impact of human activity; third, how organisms benefit from and depend on biodiversity. The main aim of the field trip is to bring these three aspects of biodiversity into one big idea: interconnections make a system.

In order to make sure that the students understand these ideas, some misconceptions have to be addressed. For example, the belief that biodiversity of other species is not relevant to humans will be addressed by exploring the “Transformation of the Biosphere” wall. Here, the impact of human activity on biodiversity is clearly presented; for example, endangerment and extinction of species, and the effects of over-harvesting, over-fishing, pollution, and habitat loss. It is also important to make clear that biodiversity is not disappearing because of overpopulation by humans, but because of the bad management of the biosphere. There are several examples of better management having improved variety in the area under study. The erroneous impression that biodiversity loss on Earth is inevitable because it is the natural progression of nature is rectified by information found on the “Solutions” wall. This area of the exhibition concentrates on current research efforts to meet the challenges of taking care of the biosphere. It also makes clear that the problem belongs to every single country and person on Earth, and that the effort to reverse damage to biodiversity, or to preserve it, must be multinational.

One aspect of biodiversity that is important to highlight is the true scope of diversity on Earth, its abundance, and its richness; specifically, among insects and plants. The “Spectrum of Life” wall brings home the vastness of extant life on the planet. The umbrella question is designed to make the students ponder this idea of variety, and at the same time of common characteristics among creatures. These ideas have been explored in previous classes; thus, the visit to the Spectrum of Life wall should remind students of, and cement, those ideas. This visit to the Hall of Biodiversity will hopefully help them to understand that all species are important because of their interdependence. The students had a pre-lesson in preparation for the field trip that addresses the idea of the Web of Life as a system. The central point of biodiversity is that it works as a system, where every part relates to another by establishing several different types of interactions between organisms. There are several aspects of biodiversity that are crucial for the students to learn, like the idea that every organism on Earth has a function and that interactions with each other are crucial to maintaining biodiversity.

The visit to the Hall of Biodiversity addresses several requirements within the Living Environment Standards. The students will be able to explore, review, analyze, and integrate information using the idea of biodiversity as a system. This exercise will allow them to find commonalities that exist between organisms, and describe how the input/output from one part of the system affects another part of the system. The activities planned for this trip will allow students to make interdisciplinary connections, and to participate in problem-solving activities; for example, they will propose possible solutions to help protect endangered species and to alleviate the problems of diminishing biodiversity. This visit to the museum asks students to classify living things and to identify structure and function relationships in organisms. One goal of this field trip is that they should be able to understand that there are numerous types of interactions between organisms, and that in all environments, organisms’ ability to survive depends on sensing and responding to environmental changes appropriately.

The main task for each group of students is to focus on exploring specific areas of the Hall of biodiversity, so that each group will contribute by examining one aspect of biodiversity. The worksheet provided, “Be an Explorer,” would help the students to research the topic, and to explore the assigned question. Moreover, the data and information gathered at the museum will be further digested, analyzed, and put back together in a news format. The product will be used to construct a class newsletter back in the classroom: “The Biodiversity Times.” By constructing the newspaper, students will have the opportunity to ponder their information further and share it with their families and friends. This last step would serve to consolidate student knowledge and comprehension.

Bibliography
Abramovitz, J. N. (2000, April). Special Biodiversity Issue. International Affairs , 76 (2), p. 376.
American Museum of Natural History. (2014). Retrieved from www.amnh.org
Council, E. L. (2007). Biodiversity. Resources for Environmental Literacy .
Wilson, E. O. (1992). Biodiversity: Life on Earth.

 

 

 

LESSON PLAN: MIDDLE SCHOOL
Hall of Biodiversity. Field Trip to the American Museum of Natural History.
[ezcol_1quarter]Main Idea:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]One aspect of biodiversity that is important to highlight is the true scope of diversity in Earth’s past. Biodiversity refers to the great variability in life and its interdependence. Today, there are a number of elements that threaten the sustainability of biodiversity. However, we can help prevent it from diminishing.[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Objectives:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end] 1. To gather information about specific aspects of biodiversity.
2. To evaluate and analyze data, to synthesize the findings, and to communicate that knowledge in the form of a newsletter.
3. To explain the interdependence of living things, and how this constitutes a system.
[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Students’ Skills:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end] Observation, application, analysis, making use of knowledge, synthesis. These skills were drawn from Bloom’s Taxonomy and the constructivist list. NGSS connections: MS-LS1 From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes; MS-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics; and MS-LS4 Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity.[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Materials[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end] 1. For the field trip: worksheet, floor map, pencils, and one lantern per group.
2. For the class activity: computers, books, reference materials, crayons, paper, and pencils. [/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Lesson:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end] Day 1, at the museum:
1. Collect parents’ permission letter.
2. Distribute the materials for the field trip and assign students to groups: Four students per group.
3. Assign one chaperone per eight students.
4. Go over the activities and rules for the trip.
5. Bus trip. Check in at the school-designated area in the museum.
6. First part of the trip: Explore the Spectrum of Life wall for the first 30 minutes and answer the umbrella question. Then focus on answering the specific group questions.
7. Gather the class to review progress.
8. Lunch; one hour
9. Second part of the trip: Finish working on the specific task for each group: “Be an Explorer.
10. Gather the class for final thoughts and distribute homework: Go over your “Be an Explorer” handout, finish it, and come prepared to work with your group on producing your part for the newsletter. We’ll use the whole class period for this task.
11. Bus trip back to school.

Day 2, at school:
1. The students will work in groups to produce their parts for the newsletter. Books, computer, and other teacher-approved resources should help to complement the information gathered in the Hall of Biodiversity. The students can use the museum Web site and additional resources (approved by the teacher) if needed.
2. The teacher should circulate and engage each group, helping, guiding, and evaluating progress.
3. The teacher will collect the work at the end of the period and put it together into a newsletter. The final product will be handed out to each student.

[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Assesment:[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end] The students will be assessed using the rubric below in two parts: the trip to the Hall of Biodiversity and the construction of the newsletter.

Excellent (5): The student cooperates in having a successful, well-behaved trip outing. The assigned museum task and the homework are complete and detailed. Actively participates in the group research and discussions. Works well in groups. Always submits excellent work. Shows interest, initiative, and inquisitiveness.
Very good (4): The student cooperates in having a successful well-behaved trip outing. The assigned museum task and the homework are complete and detailed. Actively participates in the group discussions. Works well in groups. Submits good work. Shows interest and initiative.
Good (3): The student cooperates in having a well-behaved trip outing. The assigned museum task and the homework are complete. Participates in in-group discussions. Works well in groups. Submits good work. Shows interest and initiative.
Satisfactory (2): The student did not cooperate in having a successful well-behaved trip outing. The assigned museum task and the homework are usually complete. Participates in class discussions. Works well in groups. Submits good work. Shows some interest.[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Teacher’s Reflections[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]1. Things that I did not cover.
2. Did I meet the lesson objectives?
3. Comments, conclusions, and modifications.
4. Pedagogical value of the lesson. Did my students learn the concepts and ideas explored in this class? Did the assessments provide enough evidence of understanding?[/ezcol_3quarter_end]

[ezcol_1quarter]Notes to the Teacher[/ezcol_1quarter] [ezcol_3quarter_end]

TEACHERS GUIDE:
Museum visit: In the Hall of Biodiversity
1. Form the student groups in class before leaving for the trip so that students get mentally prepared for the day.
2. Before the students start their explorations, have a few words with them, emphasizing the main idea behind the Hall of Biodiversity.
3. Go over the map of the hall, and explain how to read the labels. Go over the agenda with the students.
4. During the visit, circulate so you can make sure students are on target; answer their questions, and ask them questions to find out their misconceptions and content gaps. Mention the role of the chaperones so that the students are aware that they have someone besides you to help them, and to keep the visit well behaved and productive.
5. Gather the students and ask them about their progress, and if they have any questions. Take the students to the lunchroom. After lunch, they will have some time to complete and add details to their worksheets.
6. Finally, finish the visit with a gathering to share main ideas and questions. Direct the students back to the bus and make the return trip to school.

Student tasks: Observe, explore, answer, and complete the worksheet provided to each group (see students’ handouts). Each group will be focusing on different themes.

Group 1. What is biodiversity? How is biodiversity beneficial to humans? Area: Welcome video and bio-bulletin. This group will be in charge of producing an “editorial” and a piece on the latest news from the bio-bulletin, or a habitat word search.

Group 2. Types of interactions between organisms. Why is there more diversity in the tropics? Area: Rain forest diorama. This group will be in charge of producing a “match the organisms to the interaction” activity and a report on a hypothetical situation in which the forest system has been altered by the disappearance of an important organism.

Group 3. What is the impact of habitat loss on endangered species’ survival? How do we benefit from other species? Area: Crisis Zone and Habitat video wall. This group will be in charge of producing a piece for the “science corner” on types of habitats and why it is important to preserve them; also, a piece of news about endangered species making a case for their preservation.

Group 4. How is biodiversity impacted by human behavior? How is over-consumption causing rapid loss of biodiversity? Area: Transformation of the Biosphere wall. This group will write a piece on the causes of diminishing biodiversity and a puzzle, word search, or word jumble using words from the exhibit.

Group 5. How can human beings preserve biodiversity? Area: Solution wall. This group will produce the classified ads for ideas to help with the preservation of biodiversity and a piece on “good news” from the Solution wall.
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ACTIVITY: MIDDLE SCHOOL
Hall of Biodiversity. Field Trip to the American Museum of Natural History

cropped-owlet_logo.gifBiodiversity is the spectacular selection of life on Earth. One crucial idea is that all these organisms are dependent on each other. During this field trip, you will find that connections make webs, and that these webs tie living organisms together and allow them to survive. Ready for the adventure?

 

Part I: At the museum
1. Your teacher will place you in groups, and gave you a museum map and a handout. Before you start the visit, use your map to get oriented, and go over the agenda with your group.

2. Go around the Hall, and have an overview of the exhibition. Stop at the “Spectrum of Life” wall, explore the wall, pick a group of organisms, and answer the umbrella question: How do you think all these organisms are connected? Write what they have in common and how they relate to each other and to their habitats.

3. Focus on your specific group task. Follow the directions on your “Be an Explorer” worksheet. Your teacher will call you for a gathering to review your progress. If there are any questions, that is the time to ask them.

4. After lunch, complete your “Be an Explorer” worksheet, and add any details you want to it.

5. Finally, make sure you have finished collecting all the information to make your part for the newsletter. The trip will be finished by briefly answering any questions you may have.

 

Part II: At school
1. Work with your museum groups to produce your assigned part for the newsletter. The resources you can use are: the information gathered in the Hall of Biodiversity, the museum Web site, books, and additional resources (approved by your teacher).

2. Your teacher will circulate and engage each group to help and to guide you.

3. At the end of the period, hand your work in. Your teacher will put all the contributions together and hand the newsletter out to each student next class.

 

Slide1        

Umbrella question: How do you think the organisms you selected are connected? Write what they have in common and how they relate to each other and to their habitats.

 

 

 

Focus question, Group 1: What is biodiversity? How is biodiversity beneficial to humans? You will be in charge of producing an “editorial” and a written piece on the latest news from the bio-bulletin, or a habitat word search (write down appropriate or unknown words from the exhibit).

 

1. What is the main message of the intro video?

2. List five things that we need from the biosphere and how we use each (i.e. for clothing, medicines, food).

3. How is biodiversity beneficial to human health?

4. Choose one ecosystem and identify three items that threaten that ecosystem.

5. Choose one scientist to profile, and write about his/her research.

 

 

Slide1             

Umbrella question: How do you think the organisms you selected are connected? Write what they have in common and how they relate to each other and to their habitats.

 

 

 

Focus question, Group 2: Types of interactions between organisms. Why is there more diversity in the tropics? You will be in charge of producing a “match the organisms to the interaction” activity and a written piece on what happens to biodiversity when an organism in the forest disappears. Use the flashlight to find organisms in the rain forest.

 

1. Observe the forest; how many species of living things are there?

2. Identify the three forest levels and list the organisms living in them.

Forest floor:

Understory (eye level):

Canopy (look up):

 

3. Find the organisms that represent the following interactions:

Predator/prey:

Producer/consumer:

Competitors:

Mutually beneficial:

 

4. Choose one small area, list the organisms presently living in it, and explain how they interact.

 

 

5. How do these organisms obtain nutrients?

 

 

Slide1

 

Umbrella question: How do you think the organisms you selected are connected? Write what they have in common and how they relate to each other and to their habitats.

 

 

 

 

 

Focus Question, Group 3: What is the impact of habitat loss on endangered species’ survival? How do we benefit from other species? You will be in charge of producing a written piece for the “science corner” on three types of habitats and why it is important to preserve them. Also, you need to produce news about endangered species making a case for their preservation.

1. List the nine biomes from the Habitat video wall.

 

2. Choose one biome and write three pieces of information about it that are new to you.

 

3. Is the Earth undergoing a massive extinction of species? If yes, name three in danger of extinction.

 

4. How does habitat loss in other species affect human beings?

 

5. Choose one concern about habitat loss and discuss two solutions.

 

 

Slide1

Umbrella question: How do you think the organisms you selected are connected? Write what they have in common and how they relate to each other and to their habitats.

 

 

Focus Question, Group 4: How is biodiversity impacted by human behavior? How is over-consumption causing rapid loss of biodiversity? You will be in charge of writing a piece on the causes of diminishing biodiversity, and a puzzle, word search, or word jumble using words from the exhibit.

 

1. List three human activities that affect biodiversity.

 

2. Choose one human activity that affects species diversity and write three sentences explaining how.

 

3. How does habitat loss in other species affect human beings?

 

4. Write and define 10 new words from the exhibit.

 

5. How has population growth transformed green spaces?
 

Slide1Umbrella question: How do you think the organisms you selected are connected? Write what they have in common and how they relate to each other and to their habitats.

 

Focus Question, Group 5: How can human beings preserve biodiversity? You will be in charge of producing the classified ads, requesting help with the preservation of biodiversity, and a piece on “good news” from the Solution wall.

 

1. Gather information on one issue from the “Solution” wall.

 

2. Write three sentences on how the solution helped to alleviate the problem or issue.

3. How did solving this problem serve to sustain biodiversity?

 

4. Identify who (scientists, countries) was part of the team that created the solution.

 

5. List three things a middle-school student can do to make a difference in preserving biodiversity.