In this activity, students investigate the fascinating and complex process of decomposition and lay the foundation for deeper understanding of concepts related to matter and energy transfer in ecosystems. Through exploration and discussion, students go beyond simple definitions. Instead, students discover key characteristics of decomposition as they struggle with creating a sequence for decomposing wood and leaves. They learn the difference between physical decomposition and chemical decomposition and that many things contribute to decomposition, but certain organisms are classified as decomposers. They also search for and discuss evidence of decomposers, make model diagrams to further develop their ideas about the process of decomposition, and discuss decomposition and its role in the cycling of matter. Finally, students are challenged to recognize the evidence and impact of decomposition in the ecosystems they explore.
- Explore, observe, and compare samples of decomposing materials and use reasoning to determine the level of decomposition among them
- Search for and classify decomposers (or evidence of them) as fungi, bacteria or invertebrates
- Investigate and discuss decomposition as the process of breaking down dead organisms and their waste materials into smaller and simpler forms of matter
- Create a model diagram for the process of decomposition
- Discuss the role decomposers play in making matter available to living plants
Students explore a forest at designated stations, using their vision and, blindfolded, their other senses. By engaging with the forest in a personal, multisensory activity, students will become more sensitive to the components of a forest, and hopefully, treat our landscapes with increased respect.
The Exploring the Great Bear Sea Elementary and Secondary Curriculum Resources are based on the film The Great Bear Sea: Reflecting on the Past, Planning for the Future, by Green Fire Productions, and can be used to engage students on an inquiry-based, educational journey through the Great Bear Sea. The Great Bear Sea is a new name given to the North Coast of British Columbia (BC), an area that extends from Campbell River on Vancouver Island to the border of BC and Alaska. This region of British Columbia’s coast is one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world, has enormous cultural significance to the people who live here, and contains important resources for BC’s economy.
Students take a census of an outdoor site, and look for organisms that perform different “jobs” in the biotic community. A biotic (or natural) community is made up of the various organisms that live and interact with one another in a particular environment. As in a human community, its members have different roles and depend on each other for survival. In this activity, students examine a study area to find out what organisms live there and the ecological jobs or niches they fill.
The KBEE has been working to find ways of enabling teachers to effectively use environmental/place-based education across their teaching practices in order to support students in developing the Core Competencies and achieving the Content, Curricular Competencies and Big Ideas in the Know-Do-Understand model articulated by the BC Ministry of Education, as well as to enhance their students' learning experiences both in and outside of their classrooms.
This activity sets an exciting tone of exploration and discovery, encouraging an inquiry mindset in students that helps establish a community of curious, active learners. Students gain tools to explore the natural world—and are inspired to discover and attempt to explain the abundant nature mysteries that surround us. NSI works well at the start of a field experience, to get students excited about nature mysteries.