Baltimore Ecosystem Study Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2012 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Baltimore Partnership for Environmental Science Literacy
Mollett, Natalie
Co-Authors: A.Berkowitz, B.Caplan, T.Newcomer, M.Charnes, N.Mollett, M.VanAppledorn, C.Harris, E.Keeling, S.Haines

Abstract: In 2011, Maryland became the first state to mandate an environmental literacy requirement for graduating students. The Baltimore Partnership for Environmental Science Literacy (BPESL) continues to provide support for teachers striving to meet this mandate through the development and implementation of Teaching Experiments (TE) in three areas: Carbon, Water and Biodiversity. The TEs are introduced to teachers during a summer program. During the year, teachers are expected to implement at least one TE, supported by project staff including graduate students, Teachers-in-Residence and scientists. The carbon TE teaches components of the carbon cycle and its impact on people, plants and the atmosphere. In classroom experiments, students use Vernier LabQuests to observe matter and energy transfers during photosynthesis and respiration in plants. Discussions help students consider the global impacts of climate change caused by an increase of atmospheric CO2. The water TE teaches students to think about the pathways through which water travels and the driving forces and constraining factors that allow water to move throughout their schoolyard. Students get outside to observe infiltration, transpiration, evaporation and runoff to better understand how the water cycle functions in their local community. The biodiversity TE helps students recognize the range of life, microscopic to macroscopic, that inhabit ecosystems and their interactions with abiotic factors. Students dissect leaf packs from local streams, identifying the organisms in them. They classify the macroinvertebrates using methods including kingdoms and functional feeding groups, helping students understand how living things affect and are affected by other components of their ecosystem.