Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

On the field trip you were given a New England Aquarium scavenger hunt booklet to complete. You were also encouraged to take photographs. Now it is time to share your learning with others, through your blog post.  Your post must answer all the components of your booklet, as illustrated and outlined below.

  • Extended observation of one organism


  • Report on six exhibits

(You may have substituted the jelly exhibit for one of these.)


  • Describe the mission of the New England Aquarium and how it is conveyed throughout the exhibits


  • Share experiences from the touch tank and the giant ocean tank


Normal criteria for a blog post apply:

  • 150 words
  • pictures (if they are not yours, provide a citation!)
  • links to additional information (at a minimum, provide a link to the New England Aquarium, but other links could take readers to additional information on particular animals, such as penguins)
  • provide appropriate keywords on your post
  • publish and share the link


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Conservation International (CI) has asked for student assistance to develop site-specific conservation plans for biodiversity hotspots worldwide. You will select an identified hotspot, researching key species present, learn about the region and culture, and identify threats to and stakeholder roles in the region. You will then develop plans to conserve the biodiversity of the region.

Unit Essential Questions

  • How do species become threatened or endangered?
  • How does the disappearance of one species affect the larger system?
  • What are some actions that humans might take to slow the current rate of extinction?

Unit Enduring Understandings

  • Species can become threatened or endangered due to habitat loss or changes resulting from human actions or natural forces.
  • The extinction of one species has consequences for the entire system due to essential species’ interactions called symbioses.
  • There are a number of conservation measures that can be taken to slow or prevent the decline of a species.


  1. Select a hotspot from the list held by the teacher. Write your name on the list; only one person per hotspot. Read the overview of hotspots at http://www.conservation.org/How/Pages/Hotspots.aspx.
  2. Research key species living within that ecosystem (e.g., kingdom, phylum, habitat, food needs, and so on), using http://www.cepf.net/resources/hotspots/Pages/default.aspx and other teacher-approved sites. Consider ALL organisms, not just Animalia. Count the number of relationships each species has with other species and record it on an organizer for that species.  Answer the following questions in your science journal:
  • Which species are most important to your ecosystem and why (e.g., food, habitat, reproduction factor)?
  • Are the important species animals? plants? fungi?
  • Which species in your ecosystem has the most relationships with other species? Which have the fewest?
  • What role do abiotic elements play in your ecosystem?
  1. Determine and describe a conservation action that can be taken to ensure the future of the hotspot you researched. Consider the needs of the hotspot you are researching and identify one action that could be taken to better conserve the biodiversity of the area.  There are many different conservation approaches that could be taken for avoiding the extinction of a threatened species or protecting areas of key biological activity. Some of these ideas are shown in Table 1 below, but you may have ideas of your own.   Describe your action plan fully, identifying resources needed and timeline for implementation.
  2. Create an online presentation of your research project. Potential online resources include google docs, prezi, glogster, weebly. You may know of others.
  3. Present your research to the class in a formal and professional manner. Include documentation of recorded species and your proposed idea.


Endemic:           A plant or animal native to or restricted to a certain locality, region, or area.

Biodiversity:    Biological diversity – or biodiversity – is the term given to the variety of life on Earth. It is the variety within and between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems within which they live and interact. Biodiversity is explored at three levels: genetic diversity; species diversity; and ecosystem diversity.

Biodiversity hotspots:  To qualify as a hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria: it must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants (> 0.5 percent of the world’s total) as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat.

Table 1.  Potential Actions

Create incentives and legislation to reduce hunting pressure.
Control of invasive species.
Captive breeding programs, propagation, and re-introduction of threatened species.
More effective management of protected areas.
Adding new parks and reserves in the highest priority portions of unprotected intact habitat.
Restoring degraded habitats to provide increased connectivity (to decrease fragmentation).
Establishment, expansion and management of protected areas
Implementation of innovative economic alternatives such as ecotourism and conservation concessions.
Influence the behavior of people at the local level, through education, and at the national level, through policy work and awareness campaigns
Working with international corporations to ensure that their business practices do not contribute to further biodiversity loss.
Collaborating with a single expert to protect a threatened species to avoid its extinction
Working with the government of the country to facilitate national conservation initiatives.
Leveraging other organizations to protect biodiversity in the hotspot.

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Assignment To Students:

Todays question is “What do you do to contribute to a sustainable environment?” Write a 300-word blog post on your environmental ethics.  Previously you have written in your journal about “what is an environmentalist”; you have also learned some new terms such as “sustainability”, “environmental footprint”, and “tragedy of the commons“. Finally, you have your own personal reason for being in this class. Combine all of these things with your class learning and tell us what are your environmental ethics. You might also think about things you want to do in the future that you have not done before; for ideas on these, go to What Can You Do?

My 300 (or more) Words:

I am deeply connected to our planet Earth and I think I always have been. My parents raised me to respect the planet, take care of her, and to know the names of her New England inhabitants. My mother would take my little sister and me on walks in the woods and name the trees and flowers and wild herbs. My father used organic gardening methods for our food (and all of our vegetables came from our garden) and was disgusted by builders who clear-cut a lot to put in a house; he knew they could have left some of the trees and still built the home, he felt the builder was just being lazy. This background is the structural foundation for the environmentalist in me.

When it comes to environmental ethics, every individual can make a difference and everyone should do their part. I do what I can. Here are my principles, and how I try to keep them:

  • I respect and care for Earth and life in all its diversity.  Everything in the universe is connected to everything else and has value regardless of its worth to human beings.  In addition, with the right to own, manage, and use natural resources comes the duty to prevent environmental harm and to protect these resources for the future.
  • We should protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life. In my yard I have converted an acre of invasive species (bittersweet, Norway maple, Alianthus) into an acre of native trees and shrubs that provide food sources for birds. With the exception of poison ivy killer, I use no chemicals on my yard. The birds, bats, and dragonflies help control mosquitoes in my yard.
  • I promote the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems. This can be seen in my lessons and teaching of science to high school students.
  • We must manage the use of renewable resources such as water, soil, forest products, and marine life in ways that do not exceed rates of regeneration and that protect the health of the ecosystems.
  • The goal of my life has been life-long learning of the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life. In this regard, I have tried to provide others, particularly children and youth, with knowledge to empower them to contribute actively to sustainable development.
  • It is my belief that every individual has the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation. As a consumer I make a sincere and definite effort to buy products that are either manufactured in the U.S. or are certified as Fair Trade. Rather than shopping at Walmart, where products are cheap and poorly made and 91% are made in China, I spend the extra money to make purchases from local shops and small online boutiques. If at all possible (which is impossible for some electronics) I do NOT buy “made in China” products; China has an atrocious human rights (non-rights?) record and is the greatest polluter of the planet. As much as I am financially able to, I buy organically grown foods, including free-range chicken eggs and grass-fed beef. I also look for where the product has been grown and choose the one that has traveled the shortest distance, thus has a lower carbon (via transport) footprint.
  • My daily intent is to treat all living beings with respect and consideration, and to promote a culture of nonviolence and peace.  “Peace” is the wholesomeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part. I do not always succeed, but it is always my intent and when I falter I just try again.

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Blackawton Bees

For my research today I learned about the Blackawton Bees.  Blackawton Bees use the spatial relationships between colors to figure out which flowers had sugar water in them and which flowers had salt water in them. I thought this was very interesting how someone could think this up. How does one think to experiment on bees and use colors to determine whether there is salt or sugar water in them.  They gave the bees series of challenges to determine if they were intelligent enough to find the difference of salt and sugar water in the flowers. The test became harder and harder and finally the results the bees had become more and more conclusive. One test they used was the bee arena. The bee arena was a small box in which they put the bees in and tested their reaction to different colors and flowers. They had to let the bees in the arena individually at times so that they would be independent and develop their own reasoning and not copy others. Overall between all three tests the Blackawton Bees had similar test results and were all pretty accurate while choosing between the sugar and salt water flowers in the various tests.


Bombus terrestris- the buff-tailed bumblebee or large earth bumblebee is one of the most numerous bumblebee species in Europe

buff-tailed bumble-bee- a bumblebee

visual perception- what ones sees

colour vision- the color someone sees

behavior- the range of actions an mannerisms of an organism

— S. Obrien

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The purpose of this experiment with the Blackawton Bees was to test the principle that “the process of playing with rules that enables one to reveal previously unseen patterns of relationships that extend our collective understanding of nature and human nature”. To test this the scientists gave the bees a series of challenges to see if they could complete them or were incapable of doing so. Then they tested them to see if they solved the puzzle and how they solved it. It was a difficult puzzle, understandably because the bees could not just learn to go to the colour of the flower. If the bees solved these puzzles in different ways, that would mean that bees have personalities. A bee arena was consttructed out of plexiglass and Bombus terrestris bees were used.


The lead scientist stated concluded ‘We discovered that bumble-bees can use a combination of colour and spatial relationships in deciding which colour of flower to forage from. We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before. (Children from Blackawton)’. The results show that while humans tend to be considered the smartest of animals, there are other species that are able to perform higher functions and behaviors.

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

Figure 3.


MORE ABOUT THE BEE PROJECT- http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/kids-study-bees/

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Instructions For Students Writing Blog Posts In Oceanography Class

Hopefully, this post will clarify questions students are having about what is “required” for a blog post. It is first important to understand the driving question behind the assigned topic. Know whether the topic is meant to be reflective or analytical. Verify the assigned length, and format requirements (first person or third person; headings required; formal 5-paragraph or not; etc.)

Basic Rubric For Blog Post

Writing can begin only after the assignment is understood and research completed. Always, ALWAYS keep track of sources. Now write:

  1. Make sure the post is going to the correct blog; many people have multiple blogs. When Ms. Goodrich assigns a blog post for oceanography class, make sure it appears on Ms. Goodrich’s Science Class Blog.
  2. The title should state the point being made in the assignment and NOT be the name of the assignment. Be clever! Consider how a news journalist would title the essay or article. Your post needs to stand out from all the others! Check out this post by Copyblogger: How To Write Headlines That Work
  3. Subtitles give clarity to the topic, especially if the cleverly written title could be interpreted more than one way.
  4. Blogs are visual. Include pictures – properly credited – and videos. Don’t forget that pictures require titling, also.
  5. The writing should make the reader want to find out more about the topic. Give the reader a place to go with links embedded in the text – at least three.
  6. Leave the reader with a provocative thought at the end of your post. Don’t let your readers go without making them think about your topic. You want them to believe that you are the expert on whatever it was you wrote about.
  7. We live in a world of search engines. Make sure your post gets found by categorizing your post “Oceanography” and labeling the post with key words. Use as many tags as apply. It’s all good.

Final requirement:

Do not bore. You don’t want to be bored, so write to excite.

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Since I didnt attend the field trip, I decided to research sand dollars for my topic. Sand dollars are very interesting. There are sea cookies or snapper biscuit in New Zealand, or the pansy shell in South Africa which refers to species of extremely flattened, burrowing echinoids belonging to the order Clypeasteroida. Some species within the order, not quite as flat, are known as sea biscuits. Related animals include the sea urchins, sea cucumbers and starfish.They possess a rigid skeleton known as a test. The petal-like pattern in sand dollars consists of five paired rows of pores. The pores are perforations in the endoskeleton through which podia for gas exchange project from the body. The mouth of the sand dollar is located on the bottom of its body at the center of the petal-like pattern. The anus of sand dollars is located at the back rather than at the top as in most urchins, with many more bilateral features appearing in some species. Sand dollars live beyond mean low water on top of or just beneath the surface of sandy or muddy areas. The spines on the somewhat flattened underside of the animal allow it to burrow or to slowly creep through the sediment. Fine, hair-like cilia cover the tiny spines. Podia that line the food grooves move food to the mouth opening, which is in the center of the star-shaped grooves on the underside of the animal . Its food consists of crustacean larvae small copepods, diatoms, algae and detritus

By Marissa Elwell

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