Bio-Diversity – who cares?!
Whaaa, it’s raining this whole week when we wanted to get kids OUTSIDE into the bucolic biodiversity of spring!
A quickly re-invented intro to the unit was NOT the usual “Omg, what a pretty video scene, isn’t Earth lovely?” clip. Instead, a quick definition – bio (life) diversity (different kinds of..) and then all went out more or less under the eaves in the rain (v. British of us..) and counted all the species in the planter box outside our class rooms. 11? 14? More? Why the variation in count? Did we under or over-estimate? And they got straight to the reasons we might want to, oh I don’t know, use a field guide to identify species so we don’t double count stuff. Groups figured out that we’d missed all the bacteria, insects and fungi. Although one guy pointed out that there are 7 of them, right here in class. Fun guys.
Used ‘Take a Position’ walking debater to see who thinks biodiversity is rising, falling or staying about the same/idk. Grouped kids chat then someone takes a stand on a chair and says why. Very handy to remind me that they confuse biodiversity with sheer population. When clarified, several moved positions (This has been rare in the past – like us, they don’t like to be publicly ‘wrong’. Glad the culture of the class in changing a bit.)
Genius comment from one girl saying there is more biodiversity because of bacteria reproducing all the time, there must be more and more mutations appearing. Wow. And two boys waved the EO Wilson graph of biodiversity over geologic time and said that according to their data, biodiversity is rising. Very cool from some dudes who are usually too cool to look too closely at science sheets. And then the majority making the link to TAP research about deforestation, loss of habitat, over fishing and so on.
Then we are tee-ed up for the intro sheet but way more fun than just have plodded through it as I was initially planning. Even though 1st period are my guinea pigs for the day’s lessons, they have done really well for their class average grade compared to others. Maybe the enthusiasm and the double cup of coffee not yet worn off is what does it? Or maybe because there are more high math kids in that class…
Trouble with the TAP Brag Board:
An upset parent pointed out that money raising shouldn’t be a competition. We’ve been running a “TAP Achievement” board aka “Brag Board” and the $880 intimidated one of the girls to think she shouldn’t even try.
Ran a quick discussion “How can you measure if your action was effective?” Number of bags of trash, a letter back from a politician, number of signatures on a petition, how many people came to your bake sale or fundraiser or beach clean up. Weight of food you collected for a food bank. A thank you note from someone you helped. A before-and-after pic of a cleaned creek. So that’s what we’ll do from now on.
We’re going for friendly rivalry to encourage effort, but not for kids to freak out (and maybe lead to parent padding of the coffers…)