Module 2 – Biodiversity

The second module is titled “Biodiversity” and can be applied to 5th, 6th, or 7th graders who are working with life sciences and/or biotic processes.  The module is designed for the 6th grade with module 3 and 4 for 7th and 8th grades respectively.  This module is composed of two parts: Invasive Species and Biomonitoring.  Module 2 – Biodiversity

Invasive Species – Class #1
This is usually done before the biomonitoring activity to introduce aspects of biology and introduce the students to handling live samples, but does have to be done in this order  The invasive species section is made up of two parts.  The class starts with a short presentation introducing concepts and ideas behind “invaders” and then proceeds to split the class in two for the activities.

Invasive Species – Aquatic Plants – 20 mins
Students work in pairs and use a dichotomous key to identify two species of aquatic plants.  One plant is a native species and the other is an invasive species.  After each group identifies their samples correctly, the remaining time is spent discussing what makes the invasive species good at taking over an ecosystem.
 Invasive Species – Aquatic Animals – 20 mins
Students receive a live sample of an invasive animal (we use Green Crabs) and spend some time observing its physical characteristics.  Then a general discussion is started on how the animal satisfies all its living requirements and what may make it more successful than its competitors in an environment.

Biomonitoring – Aquatic Macroinvertebrates – Class #2
This activity takes longer than the previous activities and can be done in either a 75-90 minute class or done as two separate visits to a class with only 45-60 minute classes.  The biomonitoring activity starts with a presentation of about 20 minutes that introduces macroinvertebrates and the importance they have in ecosystems.  Following the presentation, students will break into three groups and join a staff member or volunteer around a small “pond” (plastic tub filled with water and lots of critters!).  Students will spend some time observing the pond and the species in it before engaging the critters.  After a calm, scientific observance, students will begin removing the critters one by one and identifying them using a key.  After all species have been identified, students will determine the water quality of their “pond” using a biotic index.

“Kick Netting” in the Branch River for specimens to bring to school.