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Bugs Don't Bug Me!

Elementary, Middle

Description

This comprehensive set of seven lessons is designed to introduce students to the fascinating world of aquatic macroinvertebrates.  Although each lesson can stand alone, the overall goal is for teachers to use the entire resource to develop student understanding of how these organisms are used as bio-indicators to evaluate the health of freshwater environments.  The emphasis on practical learning engages students in the following activities:

  • Exploring the role of adaptations in sustaining organisms within aquatic habitats.
  • Using math concepts such as graphing to study water pollution.
  • Collecting, identifying and sorting aquatic macroinvertebartes in a natural environment.
  • Identifying connections between land use, water quality, and macroinvertebrate diversity.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Observation
  • Classification and sorting
  • Graphing
  • Data collection
  • Data analysis

Strengths

  • Well organized with all of the handouts and materials readily available.
  • Includes an authentic scientific investigation of a local habitat.
  • Contains plenty of background information for teachers including answers to discussion questions.
  • Strong connections between math and science outcomes.
  • Includes instructions for building simple stream sampling equipment.

Weaknesses

  • The broad age range of the resource means that the scientific design is less complex for older students who should also be measuring additional parameters like water chemistry.
  • There is no data sheet to record information such as weather or habitat type.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource is designed for Kindergarten to Grade 6 classrooms but the activities are particularly suited to meet Pan-Canadian science outcomes related to the investigation of habitat concepts at the Grade 4 level and explorations of the diversity of life at the Grade 6 level.  The "Macroinvetebrate Investigation" activity that explores a local stream can be used to develop science observation skills at all age levels.  Math concepts are also an integral component of this resource where students are able to practice counting, sorting and displaying data using bar graphs.

One feature of this learning unit is the ease with which the lessons could be expanded to include other scientific investigations.  For example, aquatic invertebrate diversity and abundance in a heavily polluted stream could be compared to data from a stream within a conservation area.  Students could also examine the structural differences between terrestrial macroinvertebrates and aquatic macroinvertebrates to deepen their understanding of the relationship between an organism and its environment.

The lessons also support classroom service projects focused on reducing non-point source pollution.  Part of the school grounds could be landscaped with shrubs, flowers and grasses to reduce water runoff from paved surfaces.  Students could also demonstrate green cleaning products within their community or paint storm drains to prevent improper hazardous waste disposal.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Repeating elements in patterns can be identified
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        • Science: Daily and seasonal changes affect all living things.
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        • Concrete graphs help us to compare and interpret data and show one-to-one correspondence.
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        • Science 1: Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment
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        • Concrete items can be represented, compared, and interpreted pictorially in graphs.
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      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The likelihood of possible outcomes can be examined, compared, and interpreted
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 3: Living things are diverse, can be grouped, and interact in their ecosystems
    • Grade 4
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      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Analyzing and interpreting experiments in data probability develops an understanding of chance
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      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Data represented in graphs can be used to show many-to-one correspondence
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
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        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Data from the results of an experiment can be used to predict the theoretical probability of an event and to compare and interpret

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (3)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
    • Interdependence
  • Water (1)

    • Water Quality

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

This resource explores human threats to aquatic ecosystems by developing science and math skills which help students process new information and create their own understanding of the topic.  There is also a progression from simple lessons on adaptations to a more inquiry-based approach that uses scientific research to answer environmental questions.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

There is a strong environmental and social aspect to these lessons as students explore various land uses and ways to mitigate pollution.  Older students could examine the economics of conservation strategies by investigating the costs of activities like planting buffer strips in relation to the ecological benefits of such initiatives.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

Students are able to link classroom learning with an exploration of a local habitat to solve water quality questions.  This experiential approach provides an opportunity for students to discover that aquatic biota are one component of a larger ecosystem that can also be impacted by human activity.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

There is not a defined action project in this resource but there are discussions surrounding non-point source pollution and personal actions that can help reduce this environmental stressor.  When combined with the investigation of a habitat on a local level these discussions could easily become the basis of student-led stewardship projects.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Initially students may not feel a close connection with the theme of water quality and aquatic biota.  However, once they have experienced the outdoor study the topic will become much more meaningful and relevant.  In the subsequent discussions surrounding personal choices for reducing pollution students may be motivated to make positive changes at home and school to reduce their individual impacts.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

The learning unit is science based with water quality as the central theme.  The descriptions about negative threats to ecosystems could lead to some bias towards user groups such as farmers.  Inviting proactive landowners to speak to the class about mitigation efforts like off-stream livestock watering sites would improve student understanding about balancing the needs of humans and the environment.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

The "Macroinvertebrate Investigation" activity has students exploring a local stream by catching, observing and identifying aquatic organisms.  This outdoor study fosters a genuine connection to the natural world.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

Students are able to investigate a local habitat which deepens their connection to a natural feature within their community.  The examples used to illustrate land uses and macroinvetebrate taxa are all very relevant to most areas of Canada.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

Throughout the scientific investigation students are encouraged to reflect on the positive impacts of improved water quality through the reduction of non-point pollution sources. 

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

This resource places a high emphasis on learning rather than instruction.  Activities have been developed to support critical thinking about environmental issues.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

The lessons provide an excellent integration of math outcomes related to statistics and probability with science learning focused on habitats, diversity of organisms and sustainability.  The "Build a Bug" activity where students sculpt their own aquatic insect also supports art objectives.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The outdoor component of this unit provides many opportunities for students to explore and engage with a natural area beyond the scope of the initial investigation.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Poor/Not considered

There are no specific strategies for differentiation which may be an issue in the math activities that require counting, sorting and graphing.  The other hands-on lessons that focus on outdoor exploration should appeal to all learners.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

The collection and identification of aquatic macroinvertebrates in a natural habitat engages students in very authentic science learning where they are able to directly apply their findings in evaluating the health of a stream.  A teacher could build upon this initial exploration by providing additional opportunities to collect and compare similar data in other ecosystems such as freshwater marshes.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Most of the lessons support group work and information sharing.  The macroinvetebrate study involves peer to peer collaboration in data collection and specimen identification.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

There are no tools in the resource but all of the math activities require students to produce results that can be used in formative assessments of learning.  The final "If Bugs Could Talk" lesson makes the connection between land use, water quality and invertebrate diversity with student graphs that could be used as a summative assessment of the entire unit.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

Depending on where the class conducts their outdoor field trip there could be an opportunity to involve older environmental science peer mentors in assisting younger students with aquatic invertebrate sampling and identification.  The student graphs could also be turned into a school display about non-point source pollution impacts on local waterways.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good

The documentation of aquatic invertebrate diversity and abundance in a local stream is very authentic and relevant research that could go beyond the boundaries of the school.  Local fishing clubs and conservation organizations could be interested in the data collected by the class, especially if it supplements similar long term monitoring programs.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

The specialized nature of the scientific investigation means students do need to follow certain explicit directions and protocol to achieve success but the field experience will provide many chances for exploration and discovery.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.