Rivers, Lakes, Seas, Bays, Ponds and Estuaries
Without water, there is no life. These resources can transform abstract concepts into reality.
How Wolves Change Rivers
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.
Animals: Wildlife contains the complete version of George Monbiot's TED talk.
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This unit plan will give students an understanding of an aquatic ecosystem, revealing the interaction and exceptional diversity on earth.
Bridging the Watershed is a joint project between the National Park Service on the Potomac River and schools. Watersheds are crucial river and regional geographic concepts. This project could be easily replicated for your area.
For about 50 years canals connected fresh water rivers and salt water portals. Learn about the history of canals, especially for transportation,at The Canal Age.
Water on the Web, sponsored for high school students by NSF, surfaces Remote Underwater Sampling Stations' data with visualization tools. 4 Minnesota lakes is the body of interest. Students can observe seasonal and weather changes, like storms.
Chesapeake Bay has received attention not only for its ecology but also for its nearness to our nation's capital Washington, D.C. This site illustrates the plants and animals of typical baylands as well as those unique to Chesapeake. The illustrations are excellent.
Simulate any of these ecosystems via Bottle Biology, a project to build and decompose soil and biological systems ...
Building a Natural Pool
Talk about bringing nature to you. David Pagan Butler has created a Natural Swimming Pool. It's a swimming pool that has clear water without using chemicals. These pools rely entirely on the plants and animals to condition the water. This is so effective that this pool has been tested and shown to be of drinking water quality -- healthy for the people and wildlife that share the pool.
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David Pagan Butler shares more information on his Nature Pool and how to build one of your own.
While you might not do this as a class project, it can be used to show how we can co-exist with nature -- rather than trying to dominate or exclude it -- and how ecosystems work.
... or you can try the Bucket Project from K12 Science. The focus is macroinvertebrates in a pond.
Learn more about the Great Lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Together they form the largest fresh surface water system on earth, containing about one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water supply. The Great Lakes is the source of drinking water for more than 48 million people, generates more than 1.5 million jobs, and is home for more than 3,500 plant and animal species.
NCEAS ecologists and teachers in Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria schools are working with 5th grade classes to design and conduct scientific experiments in ecology. Students learn the scientific method by doing it, from experimental design and hypothesis, data gathering and analysis, to reporting results and conclusions. Find ideas for your classroom.
The School of Freshwater Sciences is a particularly interesting application of telecommunications in network science. To those of us who do not live in this region the environment appears to be uniform; in fact, many different ecologies border the Great Lakes region. A classroom has initiated a study of weather and water quality data and requesting that other classrooms also send real soil samples from diverse locations within this region. Such a telecommunications project will reveal a rich survey of micro-ecologies in this one region, encompassing many square miles, and, thereby, illustrates the newer, regional approach to geographic studies rather than the more conventional state-by-state study.
Exploration of these ecologies is especially instructive to students who live in very different environments.
With very little work, these sites can be used as a springboard into culture & history, biology, math, & physics.