Archive for the ‘Ecosystems’ Category

If you missed the Ecosystems on the Edge Block1: Class 3 class due to the government shut down please remember to either sign up for one of the alternate dates next week or e-mail me no later than 10/30 for a refund.

We will be offering two make-up dates for the class, on Thursday, October 31st and Friday, November 1st at the normal times (9-10 am for 5-7 yr. olds on both dates, 10:30am-Noon both dates, and 1:30-3 pm on Thursday only).

You may sign up online at: www.SignUpGenius.com/go/10C0D4DACAB2CA7FA7-make. If you have questions contact me McDonaldK@si.edu.



Ecosystems on the Edge: Nutrient Odyssey


  • Water Cycle
  • Watershed
  • Wetland
  • Nutrient
  • Sediment
  • Runoff
  • Pervious Surface
  • Impervious Surface
  • Riparian Buffer
  • Erosion
  • Precipitation

Pre-Class Materials

 All Ages:

Do you know the watershed you live in? Kids will need adult help for this page, but it’s neat to find out what watershed you live in or on: http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/address.cfm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1SQIh0KGsc here’s a short video (3 min) that clearly defines a watershed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaDkph9yQBs this is a good video from NASA (5:53) concerning the water cycle.

http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle-kids-int.html use your mouse to “mouse around” the watershed in this graphic, and learn how water cycles. Spend some quality time reading and learning about the different steps! (For 5-7 year old students use the beginner page: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle-kids-beg.html )

5-7 yr. olds

This is a good place to begin talking about the water cycle: http://www.kidzone.ws/water/ along with coloring pages at the bottom. Kids can color and assemble the water cycle.



If you’d like to try to make an indoor water cycle, here is a short video with instructions: http://www.neok12.com/php/watch.php?v=zX744c6f0d0261495f70537f&t=Water-Cycle

Here are two optional quizzes for older students (suggested 3rd-7th grade) concerning the water cycle:

http://www.neok12.com/quiz/WATCYC01  and http://www.neok12.com/quiz/WATCYC03  and the “Where does water go” quiz: http://www.neok12.com/quiz/WATCYC02.


If you were not able to watch the Ecosystems on the Edge video about Blue Crabs, from the 2nd class, here is a direct link: http://ecosystemsontheedge.org/top-predator/

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Fall is in the air and it’s time to start planning for the start of classes next week. The Ecosystems on the Edge and Chesapeake Bay Student Documentary Course begin September 11th and 12th. Please remember the following:

  • Class starts promptly at the assigned time. To prevent disruptions, and for safety reasons, I will close the door 10 minutes after class starts. Please do not enter the classroom after that time. IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME COMING TO SERC GIVE YOURSELF AT LEAST 15 MINUTES EXTRA TRAVEL TIME, THE ROADS ARE LONGER THAN YOU THINK!
  • If you miss a class it is important that you make up material and check with the instructor for what you missed. Each block of classes builds on content and your student will miss crucial building blocks if they do not catch up on the missed material.
  • Parents are welcome to attend the 5-7 yr. old and 8-12 yr. old classes.
  • Please no food or drink in class.

Here are some pre-class materials to help your student(s) prepare for the classes. These materials are not required but strongly suggested as pre-or post class support for the student’s classes.

Home School Pre-Class Prep: Ecosystem on the Edge Block Class 1


  • Watershed
  • Stream
  • Invertebrates
  • Macro-invertebrates
  • Metamorphosis
  • Benthic
  • Bioinidicator
  • Biodiversity
  • Kicknet
  • Dipnet
  • Dichotomous key
  • pH
  • Dissolved Oxygen
  • Turbidity


Students of All Ages (5-12):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In1Foq4l43A this video is a great introduction to macroinvertebrates and how they are sampled.

http://www.delawareriverguide.net/insects/nymphid.html this web page is a good start for learning the anatomy and movement of different types of aquatic insects.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_V2_aWmjpow (3:45) here is a video about caddis flies. They are fascinating creatures that have a unique larval stage that builds its own cocoon-like shell out of pebbles, sticks, stones, and more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFlrJlz7AV4 (4:12) a short video showing a dragonfly nymph feeding. Note the dragonfly nymphs large scooping mouth parts, which are very different from their insect chewing mandibles when they are adults.

OPTIONAL ASSIGNMENT: Use The Trout.com aquatic insect encyclopedia to draw at least three different aquatic insects: http://www.troutnut.com/hatches. The drawings should be at least 1/3 of a page and clearly labeled. You do not need to turn these in, they are for your notebooks.

 5-7 yr. Only:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_g_Vi87t0Zm8/TEKX44JADOI/AAAAAAAAEOA/_j-0KDkiGx0/s1600/Aquatic_Insect_Orders_elder.jpg Here is a good coloring page graphic.

 8-12 yr. Only:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfxOns-Pr38 (14:20) Part 1, This is a series of two videos about aquatic invertebrates. It’s a bit advanced but worth watching.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOsKyvZvb6g (11:05) Part 2.



Please remember that before class all students must have a copy of “Shut up and Shoot, Documentary Guide” by Anthony Q. Artis. This is available in hardcover or E-book.

Before the first class students should read Chapter 1″Getting Started” and “Getting the Idea.”

Students should also watch the following videos from the Ecosystems on the Edge series (http://ecosystems.serc.si.edu/):

  • Endangered Orchid
  • Blue Crab, Top Predator in Peril
  • Points of Invasion
  • Forests and Climate Change

While watching the videos students should take notes about each and then rank the videos, 1-4, as to which they are most inspired by or most interested in. Bring these notes to class.

On the first day of class students should dress nicely because we will have a guest speaker, one of the producers from the Smithsonian Channel coming to class to speak and start us with some exercises. Nice dress would include slacks, collared shirts, or skirts. Students will be expected to take notes during the presentation as well.


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