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  • Ecology
3RC (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost)
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In this lesson, students expand their understanding of solid waste management to include the idea of 3RC (reduce, reuse, recycle and compost). They will look at the effects of packaging decisions (reducing) and learn about engineering advancements in packaging materials and solid waste management. Also, they will observe biodegradation in a model landfill (composting).

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Amy Kolenbrander
Janet Yowell
Jessica Todd
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
09/18/2014
All Caught Up
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Commercial fishing nets often trap "unprofitable" animals in the process of catching target species. In this activity, students experience the difficulty that fishermen experience while trying to isolate a target species when a variety of sea animals are found in the area of interest. Then the class discusses the large magnitude of this problem. Students practice data acquisition and analysis skills by collecting data and processing it to deduce trends on target species distribution. They conclude by discussing how bycatch impacts their lives and whether or not it is an important environmental issue that needs attention. As an extension, students use their creativity and innovative skills to design nets or other methods, theoretically and/or through hands-on prototyping, that fisherman could use to help avoid bycatch.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Amy Whitt
Matt Nusnbaum
Vicki Thayer
Date Added:
10/14/2015
All Caught Up: Bycatching and Design
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Bycatch, the unintended capture of animals in commercial fishing gear, is a hot topic in marine conservation today. The surprisingly high level of bycatch about 25% of the entire global catch is responsible for the decline of hundreds of thousands of dolphins, whales, porpoises, seabirds and sea turtles each year. Through this curricular unit, students analyze the significance of bycatch in the global ecosystem and propose solutions to help reduce bycatch. They become familiar with current attempts to reduce the fishing mortality of these animals. Through the associated activities, the challenges faced today are reinforced and students are stimulated to brainstorm about possible engineering designs or policy changes that could reduce the magnitude of bycatch.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Amy Whitt
Matt Nusnbaum
Vicki Thayer
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Animal Behavior, Fall 2013
Conditional Remix & Share Permitted
CC BY-NC-SA
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Most of the major categories of adaptive behavior can be seen in all animals. This course begins with the evolution of behavior, the driver of nervous system evolution, reviewed using concepts developed in ethology, sociobiology, other comparative studies, and in studies of brain evolution. The roles of various types of plasticity are considered, as well as foraging and feeding, defensive and aggressive behavior, courtship and reproduction, migration and navigation, social activities and communication, with contributions of inherited patterns and cognitive abilities. Both field and laboratory based studies are reviewed; and finally, human behavior is considered within the context of primate studies.

Subject:
Biology
Ecology
Psychology
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
M.I.T.
Provider Set:
M.I.T. OpenCourseWare
Author:
Schneider, Gerald
Date Added:
01/01/2013
Animals and Engineering
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Students are introduced to the classification of animals and animal interactions. Students also learn why engineers need to know about animals and how they use that knowledge to design technologies that help other animals and/or humans. This lesson is part of a series of six lessons in which students use their growing understanding of various environments and the engineering design process, to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Denise Carlson
Katherine Beggs
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Bees: The Invaluable Master Pollinators
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The study of biomimicry and sustainable design promises great benefits in design applications, offering cost-effective, resourceful, non-polluting avenues for new enterprise. An important final caveat for students to understand is that once copied, species are not expendable. Biomimicry is intended to help people by identifying natural functions from which to pattern human-driven services. Biomimicry was never intended to replace species. Ecosystems remain in critical need of ongoing protection and biodiversity must be preserved for the overall health of the planet. This activity addresses the negative ramifications of species decline. For example, pollinators such as bees are a vital work force in agriculture. They perform an irreplaceable task in ensuring the harvest of most fruit and vegetable crops. In the face of the unexplained colony collapse disorder, we are only now beginning to understand how invaluable these insects are in keeping food costs down and even making the existence of these foods possible for humans.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Amber Spolarich
Wendy J. Holmgren
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Biodomes Engineering Design Project: Lessons 2-6
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In this multi-day activity, students explore environments, ecosystems, energy flow and organism interactions by creating a scale model biodome, following the steps of the engineering design process. The Procedure section provides activity instructions for Biodomes unit, lessons 2-6, as students work through Parts 1-6 to develop their model biodome. Subjects include energy flow and food chains, basic needs of plants and animals, and the importance of decomposers. Students consider why a solid understanding of one's environment and the interdependence of an ecosystem can inform the choices we make and the way we engineer our own communities. This activity can be conducted as either a very structured or open-ended design.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Christopher Valenti
Denise Carlson
Katherine Beggs
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
10/14/2015
Biomes and Population Dynamics - Balance within Natural Systems
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With a continued focus on the Sonoran Desert, students are introduced to the concepts of biomes, limiting factors (resources), carrying capacity and growth curves through a PowerPoint® presentation. Abiotic factors (temperature, annual precipitation, seasons, etc.) determine the biome landscape. The vegetative component, as producers, determines the types of consumers that form its various communities. Students learn how the type and quantity of available resources defines how many organisms can be supported within the community, as well as its particular resident species. Students use mathematical models of natural relationships (in this case, sigmoid and exponential growth curves) to analyze population information and build upon it. With this understanding, students are able to explain how carrying capacity is determined by the limiting factors within the community and feeding relationships. By studying these ecological relationships, students see the connection between ecological relationships of organisms and the fundamentals of engineering design, adding to their base of knowledge towards solving the grand challenge posed in this unit.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Amber Spolarich
Wendy J. Holmgren
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Biomimicry and Sustainable Design - Nature Is an Engineering Marvel
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Students are introduced to the concepts of biomimicry and sustainable design. Countless examples illustrate the wisdom of nature in how organisms are adapted for survival, such as in body style, physiological processes, water conservation, thermal radiation and mutualistic relationships, to assure species perpetuation. Students learn from articles and videos, building a framework of evidence substantiating the indisputable fact that organisms operate "smarter" and thus provide humans with inspiration in how to improve products, systems and cities. As students focus on applying the ecological principles of the previous lessons to the future design of our human-centered world, they also learn that often our practices are incapable of replicating the precision in which nature completes certain functions, as evidenced by our dependence on bees as pollinators of the human food supply. The message of biomimicry is one of respect: study to improve human practices and ultimately protect natural systems. This heightened appreciation helps students to grasp the value of industry and urban mimetic designs to assure protection of global resources, minimize human impact and conserve nonrenewable resources. All of these issues aid students in creating a viable guest resort in the Sonoran Desert.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Wendy J. Holmgren
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Bottle Biology Terrarium
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Students will create a terrarium, make observations of the terrarium, then develop a model to explain how matter transfers within the ecosystem. This resource describes the process of creating a terrarium (which will serve as the phenomena that the students observe), but does not include specific lesson details or instructional strategies.

Subject:
Biology
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)
Provider Set:
NGSS@NSTA
Date Added:
07/07/2021
Caught in the Net
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Bycatch can be defined as the act of unintentionally catching certain living creatures using fishing gear. A bycatched species is distinguished from a target species (the animal the gear is intended to catch) because it is not sold or used. Marine mammals (whales, dolphins, porpoises), seabirds, sea turtles and unwanted or undersized fish are some examples of animals caught as by-catch The incidental capture of these animals can significantly reduce their populations. The most well known example of by-catch may be the unintentional mortality of spotted and spinner dolphins in the tuna fishing industry. "Dolphin-Safe" tuna was a result of this interaction (Be prepared to discuss how this came about with students, as it is something close to their daily lives). One important aspect to consider when discussing this issue is that laws protect some of the animals caught as by-catch (Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act). In this lesson, students will first be shown pictures of entangled marine animals and will discuss the definition of by-catch This will lead to discussions on why by-catching exists, how it impacts specific animals as well as humans, whether the students believe it is an important issue, and how by-catch can be reduced.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Amy Whitt
Matt Nusnbaum
Vicki Thayer
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Clean Up This Mess
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Students are challenged to design a method for separating steel from aluminum based on magnetic properties as is frequently done in recycling operations. To complicate the challenge, the magnet used to separate the steel must be able to be switched off to allow for the recollection of the steel. Students must ultimately design, test, and present an effective electromagnet.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Physics
Material Type:
Unit of Study
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Justin Montenegro
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Cleaning Up with Decomposers
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Students investigate decomposers and the role of decomposers in maintaining the flow of nutrients in an environment. Students also learn how engineers use decomposers to help clean up wastes in a process known as bioremediation. This lesson concludes a series of six lessons in which students use their growing understanding of various environments and the engineering design process, to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Denise W. Carlson
Katherine Beggs
Malinda Schaefer Zarske
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Common Core Curriculum: Kindergarten ELA: Listening and Learning Strand
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CC BY-NC-SA
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The goal of the Listening and Learning Strand is for students to acquire language competence through listening, specifically building a rich vocabulary, and broad knowledge in history and science by being exposed to carefully selected, sequenced, and coherent read_alouds. The 9 units (or domains) provide lessons (including images and texts), as well as instructional objectives, core vocabulary, and assessment materials. The domain topics include: Nursery Rhymes and Fables; Five Senses; Stories; Plants; Farms; Kings and Queens; Seasons and Weather; Colonial Towns; and Taking Care of the Earth.

Subject:
Arts and Humanities
Literature
Language, Grammar and Vocabulary
Ecology
Material Type:
Diagram/Illustration
Reading
Teaching/Learning Strategy
Unit of Study
Provider:
New York State Education Department
Provider Set:
EngageNY
Date Added:
07/07/2021
Computer Simulation of the Sonoran Desert Community
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The computer program's simulation of a Sonoran desert community should ultimately strengthen the student's comprehension of what is required for a natural ecosystem to sustain itself (remain in balance). This computer simulation program has great flexibility. It allows the student to manipulate the population numbers of five Sonoran Desert species. A species natural history attachment provides vital information for the students to familiarize themselves with each species' behaviors, its niche and food resource needs. The program includes two producers, the Saguaro cactus and the Ironwood Tree. It also includes 3 consumers, but their interactions both toward the producers and each other differ. The community's ability to remain in balance and sustain all five species so that none die out rests on the student's assessment skills enabling him to correctly identify these dependencies. The student learns by trial and error as he continues to fine tune the ecosystem that he maintains stewardship of.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Amber Spolarich
Wendy J. Holmgren
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Constructing Sonoran Desert Food Chains and Food Webs
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Is the food chain shown above accurate? Does the first link depict a producer, the second link a herbivore, and the third link an omnivore / carnivore? Students must correctly determine whether a species is a producer or consumer, and what type of consumer; herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore. Students are provided with a list of Sonoran Desert species and asked to construct, within their groups, several food chains. These food chains are then be used to construct a food web. In order to complete this activity, students must first research the individual species to understand their feeding habits.

Subject:
Engineering
Ecology
Material Type:
Activity/Lab
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Amber Spolarich
Wendy J. Holmgren
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Designing a Sustainable Guest Village in the Saguaro National Park
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Students are challenged to design a permanent guest village within the Saguaro National Park in Arizona. The design must provide a true desert experience to visitors while emphasizing sustainable design, protection of the natural environment, and energy and resource conservation. To successfully address and respond to this challenge, students must acquire an understanding of desert ecology, environmental limiting factors, species adaptations and resource utilization. Following theintroduction, students generate ideas and consider the knowledge required to complete the challenge. The lectures and activities that follow serve to develop this level of comprehension. To introduce the concepts of healthy ecosystems, biomimetics and the importance of sustainable environmental design, students watch three video clips of experts. These clips provide direction for student research and challenge design solutions.

Subject:
Engineering
Environmental Science
Ecology
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Provider:
TeachEngineering
Provider Set:
TeachEngineering
Author:
Amber Spolarich
Wendy J. Holmgren
Date Added:
09/18/2014
Dynamics of Complex Systems: Complexity in Ecology, Spring 2000
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CC BY-NC-SA
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An introduction to theoretical studies of systems of many interacting components, the individual dynamics of which may be simple, but the collective dynamics of which are often nonlinear and analytically intractable. Topics vary from year to year. Format includes both pedagogical lectures and round-table reviews of current literature. Subjects of interest include: problems in natural science (e.g., geology, ecology, and biology) where quantitative theory is still in development; problems in physics, such as turbulence, that demonstrate powerful concepts such as scaling and universality; and modern computational methods for the simulation and study of such problems. Discussions in context of contemporary experimental or observational data.

Subject:
Ecology
Atmospheric Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Provider:
M.I.T.
Provider Set:
M.I.T. OpenCourseWare
Author:
Rothman, Daniel
Date Added:
01/01/2000
The Ecological Cost of Dinner
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CC BY-NC-SA
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This lesson is about the flow of energy in ecosystems. The setting is Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA, where students will learn about the first Thanksgiving meal in America, celebrated in 1621 by early American settlers and Wampanoag Indians. By examining this meal and comparing it to a modern day Thanksgiving celebration, students will be able to explore the way in which food energy moves and is transformed in an ecosystem. The learning goals focus on the movement of energy from one feeding level to the next within a food web, the way in which energy changes form, and the inefficiency of energy transfer, which in turn affects the availability of food energy for organisms at the highest feeding level. The lesson is directed at high school level biology students. Students should be familiar already with food webs, food chains, and trophic (feeding) levels. They should also be familiar with the general equations for photosynthesis (CO2 + H2O => C6H12O6) and cell respiration (C6H12O6 => CO2 + H2O), and understand the basic purpose of these processes in nature. This lesson can be completed during one long classroom period, or can be divided over two or more class meetings. The duration of the lesson will depend on prior knowledge of the students and on the amount of time allotted for student discussion. There are no supplies required for this lesson other than the downloadable worksheets (accessed on this BLOSSOMS site), paper and some glue or tape.

Subject:
Life Science
Ecology
Material Type:
Lecture
Provider:
MIT
Provider Set:
MIT Blossoms
Author:
Leslie Reinherz
Date Added:
07/02/2021