Washington

Diane Petersen, Teacher

Diane Petersen

Diane Petersen is a teacher at Waterville Elementary School, in Waterville, Washington, and author of the NatureMapping curriculum on this site, as well as other educational writing.

This article originally published on 1/20/2009

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Karen Dvornich, National Director

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Third-Party Assessment of NatureMapping

Independent, third-party assessment that quantifies accomplishments and identifies areas for improvement is what can transform a good program into an exceptional one. And investigating what makes full-time-learning programs work can lead us to that new day for learning, when all kids have access to the people and programs they need to flourish.

This article originally published on 12/8/2008

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A Glossary of Common NatureMapping Terms

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We use the terms listed below throughout the curriculum. Please peruse the list and refer back to it when needed.

Time and Date Vocabulary

  • Analog: Continuous time. An analog clock tells time by moving hands on a clock face from hours 1 to 12.
  • Digital: Specific time. A digital clock represents finite time (every tenth of a second, for example) via numbers instead of clock hands.
  • Military time: A method of time keeping through a 24-hour clock, in which the day runs from midnight to midnight and is divided into 24 hours.
  • Standard time: A method of time keeping through a 12-hour clock, based on the official local time of a region or country.

Species Recognition Vocabulary

  • Species: A class of individuals having common attributes and designated by a common name
  • Morphology: The form and structure of an organism or any of its parts
  • Binomen: The scientific name of a species consisting of two parts. The first part is the genus name and the second part is the specific name, e.g., Canis lupus
  • Common name: The name for an animal species that is in general use within a community, e.g., wolf
  • Habitat: The area or environment in which an organism or ecological community normally lives or occurs
  • Nocturnal: Active at night
  • Diurnal: Active during the day
  • Migrate: To pass periodically from one region or climate to another
  • Hibernate: To spend the winter in close quarters in a dormant condition

Size-Distance Relationship Vocabulary

  • Vanishing point: In perspective drawing, the point at which receding axes converge
  • Perspective: Any graphic system used to create the illusion of three-dimensional images or spatial relationships on a two-dimensional surface. There are several types of perspective, such as linear, atmospheric, and projection system.
  • Horizon line: The line in a perspective drawing where the sky meets the ground. A drawing inside a room has an eye-level line.
  • Grid system: A series of boxes or circles divided into equal areas

Mapping Vocabulary

  • Cardinal directions: North, south, east, and west
  • Latitude line: Horizontal line on the globe that shows the angular distance, in degrees, minutes, and seconds, of a point north or south of the equator. Lines of latitude are often referred to as parallels; they run from east to west.
  • Longitude line: Vertical line on the globe that shows the angular distance, in degrees, minutes, and seconds, of a point east or west of the prime meridian. Lines of longitude are often referred to as meridians; they run from north to south.
  • The Global Positioning System (GPS): A system of satellites, computers, and receivers that is able to determine the latitude and longitude of a receiver on earth by calculating the time difference for signals from different satellites to reach the receiver.


This article originally published on 11/26/2008

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Overview: NatureMapping Lessons at a Glance

PDF Download all of the lessons (364KB)

Lesson 1: How to Tell the Time and Date

Teach students the basics of telling time and recording dates in certain formats.

Start the curriculum by teaching students how to become good record keepers, beginning with times and dates.

What's inside:

  • Analog and digital time
  • Standard and military time
  • Different date formats

Go to Lesson 1

Lesson 2: Using Guides and Animal Size to Teach Species Recognition

Introduce students to field guides and how to identify species by size.

Teach students about taxonomy and animal diversity. This lesson is a primer on taking field measurements for animal identification.

What's inside:

  • Field guide demonstrations
  • Techniques for measuring animals and understanding their clues
  • Nature-name activity

Go to Lesson 2

Lesson 3: Using Environmental Clues to Teach Species Recognition

Build your students' observation skills by helping them identify animals through clues.

This lesson elaborates on the previous lesson about species recognition. Teach your students how to recognize animal species by making observations about their surroundings.

What's inside:

  • Environmental clues
  • Bird calls and a puzzle exercise
  • Animal-wanted poster and rubric

Go to Lesson 3

Lesson 4: How to Estimate Animal Size and Numbers at a Distance

Teach students about size-distance relationships and making group estimates.

Use this lesson to help students perceive the world around them. Students learn key math and art concepts, such as estimating and spatial relationships.

What's inside:

  • Techniques for estimating animal size at a distance
  • An activity on perspective drawing
  • The grid system for estimating group size

Go to Lesson 4

Lesson 5: Teaching Directions, Maps, and Coordinates

Give students a lesson in navigation -- from telling directions to mapping coordinates.

Prepare your students for conducting field studies with this lesson on navigation.

What's inside:

  • Cardinal directions and compass usage
  • Mapping techniques
  • GPS units and latitude/longitude coordinates

Go to Lesson 5

Lesson 6: A Lesson on Nature Note Taking

Teach your students the art of recording observations in field journals.

Help students become good note takers by teaching them the proper way to keep a field journal, a lesson crucial across all academic subjects.

What's inside:

  • Observations through the senses
  • Note-taking techniques
  • Sit-spot activity

Go to Lesson 6

Lesson 7: How to Collect and Evaluate Observations in the Field

Wrap up the curriculum with a primer on field analysis.

Round up the data students gathered in the field and teach them how to analyze it.

What's inside:

  • Charts for accurate recordings
  • Data sheets
  • Tips for data analysis

Go to Lesson 7



This article originally published on 11/7/2008

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Lesson 6: A Lesson on Nature Note Taking

PDF Download Lesson 6 (68KB)

A scientist's journal goes by many aliases -- nature journal, field notebook, or science notebook. No matter what you call it, people use the field journal for the purpose of recording qualitative, quantitative, and sensory data in the field.

Throughout the curriculum, students have practiced using their field journals. In this lesson, students will learn the constructs of, and good habits for, field journals, taking what they've learned in the past about time, species, measurements, and location, and recording all that data in written form.

Lesson Objectives and Materials

Objectives

Students will

  • Learn how to take good field notes
  • Use the senses for making observations
  • Practice identifying species in the field

Materials

  • NM data-collection form
  • Field guides or animal fact sheets
  • Field journals (bound scientific notebooks)
  • Leaves, seashells, flowers, or other objects for demonstration
  • Honey, perfume, burnt grease, rose, cinnamon, and other items to smell
  • Small containers or jars
  • Pens and pencils

Field Journal Basics

Pre-Lesson Preparation: Create a large wall chart with columns in which students will record their sensory observations. In addition, prepare different scents in vials.

Teach students the importance of using a field journal correctly, and work on student's note-taking abilities. Elicit good practice habits by asking questions and instructing students to make comprehensive recordings while in the field. This is a building process and will require a lot of modeling and practice. State your expectations in the beginning so students can succeed in the field when you're not around.

Follow these steps:

  • 1. Engage students in the lesson by asking

    • Who has a diary?
    • Why do you write in a diary?
    • What can you learn about a person from his or her diary?
    • Would you want to read your mother's diary from when she was a girl?
    • What do you put in your diary?
  • 2. Explain that scientists keep track of their observations through field journals, sometimes called scientific journals or nature journals, depending on the context. (For example, lab scientists usually refer to their notebooks as scientific notebooks; nature scientists often call them field journals.)

  • 3. Explain how students can take their notes from previous lessons and compile them in their field journal. For example, ask students what information they've needed thus far to complete the NM data-collection form. Explain that they should record such information in their field journals first.

  • 4. Show an example of a field journal and describe the components it should contain.

    • Table of contents (Leave the first three pages blank for the table of contents.)
    • Entry title and date
    • Page number
    • Purpose of experiment
    • Procedure or event
    • Scientific drawings
    • Scientific data and observations
    • Neatness and organization (e.g., the use of tables, charts, and graphs)
    • Calculations and results
    • Conclusion and resources
  • 5. Practice some basic note-taking skills on the board. Emphasize the importance of accuracy and completeness.

  • 6. Ask students to select an object from nature (e.g., a leaf, flower, seashell) from a tray and describe the object through words and drawings in their field journals. Encourage students to record the object's

    • Measurements
    • Specific colors
    • Shape
    • Texture and smell (and other sensory information)
    Students can also record speculative information, such as how old they think the object is or what it's original habitat might be.

  • 7. Present objects of the same color but different textures to help students enhance their descriptive abilities.

  • 8. Encourage students to reference different materials, such as a thesaurus, the Internet, or field guides to expand their vocabulary.

  • 9. Discuss student's findings, and record different pieces of information on a wall chart. (You might want to organize the chart by senses.)

  • 10. Present to students at least three different scents in small, unmarked vials (e.g., honey, perfume, burnt grease, rose, cinnamon). Put each scent in more than one vial. Ask students to

    • Find partners with vials of the same scent
    • Work as a team to decide what the scent is and to discuss what it makes them think about
    • Write all findings in their field journals

Recording Entries in the Sit-Spot

Throughout several sessions, you will teach students how to record entries in their field journals from their "sit-spot." This is the location where they've chosen to sit and record their observations.

Follow these steps:

  • 1. Inform students about the exercise, choosing a sit-spot on the school grounds from which the student will sit and observe his or her surroundings for twenty minutes (rain, shine, or snow). The student should record all sensory information and observations in the field journal according to the format you have defined previously.

  • 2. Explain that the student will use the same sit-spot for future sessions. Define any rules about the sit-spot. For example, students should be at least ten feet apart from one another, and they are not allowed to talk.

  • 3. Provide guidelines for what the student will be recording during each session. Focus students on observing one thing per session, for example, plants and habitat for one session, insects for another session, and animals during another. Or ask students to refine their entries for each session.

  • 4. Lead students in initially finding the location for their sit-spot. Thereafter, help students refine their note-taking skills throughout the next sessions.

  • 5. Ask students to use observations in their field journals to identify any species they find, referencing field guides as needed. This helps students see what improvements they need in species identification.

  • 6. Inspire future lessons or assignments based on the observations in students' field journals. Here are some ideas:

    • Write three "I wonder" questions about your sit-spot, and research field guides or other sources to find the answers.
    • Write a description of your sit-spot.
    • Draw a picture of your sit-spot and label the parts.
    • Write a story that takes place in your sit-spot.
    • What would happen if you were an animal living near your sit-spot?
    • Complete an NM data-collection form for any animal species you mention.

Customization Tips

Is the lesson too advanced for your students? Here are some ways to customize the lesson for younger age groups:

Grades K-1: Bring in something to look at, such as an insect or plant. Ask students to explain and record what they see, and elicit questions about the senses. Student journals may need a drawing of a clock face to represent time.

Grade 2: Ask students to record what they see in the classroom in their field journals. Try to elicit questions related to the senses. Encourage students to use rulers and colored pencils for graphs and drawings.

Practical and Assessment

Practical

Test your students' ability to take good field notes. Ask students to hand in their journals on a regular basis. Use student journal information to clarify previous lessons, such as using measurements or making estimations.

Assessment

How'd your students do? Your students' journals should contain all the information you defined in the lesson, such as good organization and using the time and date correctly. Rather than writing directly on the pages of the field journal, make your comments or mark grades on sticky notes that you attach to the pages.

Teacher Tips

Visit Science Notebooks for examples of student journals, teaching tips, and classroom tools.

Related NatureMapping Activities

If you enjoyed this lesson, check out these links to additional NatureMapping materials.

  • Meeting Needs: This activity helps students understand how appropriate habitats supply all that an organism needs to survive; and teaches habitat sketching.
  • Name the Habitat: Students learn to select a habitat that their species can be found in and enter the code onto the data-collection form.
  • Habitat Association: This activity helps students learn to link wildlife with habitats.


This article originally published on 11/7/2008

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Lesson 4: How to Estimate Animal Size and Numbers at a Distance

PDF Download Lesson 4 (68KB)

Illio showing how to measure the height of an owl

Click here for full illustration

Credit: Damien Scogin

Nature observation is an inexact science. Unpredictable events that can occur, such as a flutter of butterflies passing overhead or a herd of deer crossing your path, make it difficult to collect perfect data. Therefore, nature researchers often use estimations.

In this lesson, you will teach students how to make good estimations of animal size and numbers. This lesson brings in math and art concepts to help students understand spatial relationships and approximations. Start with size-distance relationships, and end with the grid system.

Lesson Objectives and Materials

Objectives

Students will

  • Use estimation to help determine animal size
  • Learn how to draw using perspective
  • Use a grid system for estimating group size

Materials

  • NM data-collection form
  • Field guides or animal fact sheets
  • Screech owl pictures -- one close-up picture without a background and one of an owl in a tree with background
  • Wooden or metal stakes
  • Three pictures of the same owl
  • A digital camera
  • Computer and graphics software (such as Adobe PhotoShop)
  • Pictures of ants
  • Grid paper
  • Field journals (bound scientific notebooks)
  • Pens and pencils

Estimating Size

Teach students how to estimate size at a distance. This lesson is broken into three parts. The first part introduces techniques for measuring size; the last parts expand on the concept through an outdoor activity and perspective drawing. Be prepared to take digital pictures throughout the lesson.

Here are the steps to follow:

Part 1: Estimating Size at a Distance

  • 1. Show a close-up picture of a screech owl (without background). Ask students to estimate its size in height and width, prodding them for the reasons behind their estimates.

  • 2. Show a picture of the same owl in a tree, and ask students to estimate its size. Has anything changed? What are students basing their guesses on this time?

  • 3. Practice measuring height at a distance. Ask students to pick an object in the distance (about ten feet away). Then have them close one eye and estimate the object's height by forming a "C" with the thumb and index finger of their left hand (or a backwards "C" with their right hand) around the image.

  • 4. Pick three students who are about the same height, and place them ten feet away from the group. Ask the other students to use the "C" technique from the previous step to measure the three students' heights. Ask students to describe to the class how big the "C" is, from the ends of their fingers (in centimeters or inches).

  • 5. Ask the class to measure two of the students from the previous example at fifty feet and one hundred feet using the same "C" technique as before. Explain the difference in results (i.e., the students' size gets smaller with increasing distance).

  • 6. Take a digital picture of the three students at different locations, which you will use later in the lesson.

Part 2: Practice Outdoors

Pre-Lesson Preparation: Prepare three wooden stakes by attaching to each an identical, life-size picture of an animal. The great horned owl works well.

  • 1. Take your students outside, and place the stakes at different distances -- approximately ten, fifty, and one hundred feet. Then ask students to

    • Make observations and predictions about the size of the three animals
    • Use the "C" method to make height predictions
  • 2. Take a digital picture of the stakes for later use.

  • 3. Gather the stakes to show the students that the photos are the same size.

  • 4. Ask students to discuss their observations.

Part 3: Practice with Perspective Drawing

  • 1. Explain the basic concepts of perspective drawing, describing how one can represent objects at a distance on paper by making objects appear smaller and closer together as they near the vanishing point. Explain the basic meaning of "vanishing point" and the "horizon line," using pictures and examples for emphasis.

  • 2. Upload to a computer the photos you took previously of the students and stakes. Open each image separately in a program that allows you to edit the image using lines (such as Adobe PhotoShop).

  • 3. Demonstrate how to draw using one-point linear perspective on the computer.

    • First, draw the horizon line above the image.
    • Next, create a small circle or square on the horizon line to indicate the vanishing point.
    • Then, draw lines extending from the image (such as the owl) to the vanishing point.
    • Ask students whether the image will get smaller or larger the closer it moves to the vanishing point.
    • Copy and paste the same image at different places on scree, enlarging the image farther from the vanishing point and diminishing it closer to the vanishing point.
  • 4. Ask students to practice perspective drawing in their field journals or on handouts.

Practical and Assessment

Practical Test your students' understanding of making estimates and drawing using perspective. Show younger students different pairs of animal pictures in different sizes and ask them to speculate which one of the two animals in the pair is farther away. Ask older students to draw their nature animals using perspective -- creating the horizon line, the vanishing point, and three different sketches of their animals. (See image below.)

Assessment

How'd your students do? Here are some ways to assess your students' comprehension of the material, reflective of grade level. Assess students by point scale or qualitatively.

  • Exceeds standard:

    • Grades K-2: Student was able to identify that the smaller animal was farther away five out of five times.
    • Grades 3-4: Student was able to draw a picture of the same animal using perspective (in three different sizes).
    • Grades 5 and up: Student was able to use vanishing point lines to draw an animal in three different sizes.
  • Meets standard: Student was able to meet the above standards with only one error in size-distance relationship interpretation.
  • Below standard: Student made more than one mistake in size-distance relationship interpretation.

Estimating Group Numbers

Teach students how to estimate the number of animals in a group. This lesson is split into two parts. The first part gives a general introduction to group estimates, using an ant mound as example; the second part teaches the grid system.

Here are the steps to follow:

Part 1: Introduction to Group Estimates

Pre-Lesson Preparation: Make copies of a picture of an ant mound. Also, create a large class chart that has at least four columns. Mount the chart on the wall for recording data throughout the lesson.

Refer to the NM data-collection form, and introduce the sections that relate to number and estimates. Explain that scientists need good estimates to determine the population of different species across the country.

  • 1. Show a picture of an ant mound and ask

    • What do you see?
    • What questions do you have about this picture?
    • How many ants do you think are in this picture? How do you know?
  • 2. Ask each student or pair of students to mark their estimates on the class chart.

  • 3. Record on the class chart the different methods students come up with for determining the number of ants.

  • 4. Pass out pictures of an ant mound. Ask students to choose a strategy for estimating the number of ants in the picture. Some students might count by ones; some students might count groups of ants.

  • 5. Record each student's or pair of students' estimates in another column of the class chart. Ask students what they notice about the two groups of estimates. The second group of numbers should be more similar than the first estimates.

Part 2: The Grid System

  • 1. Still using the ant-mound example, ask students to speculate how to determine the number of ants without counting them or without a picture (for example, if they encountered an ant mound outdoors).

  • 2. Overlay a grid onto the picture of the ant mound. Ask students how they would use the grid to determine the number of ants.

  • 3. Explain how to use the grid system, which is the method scientists use when estimating large numbers of animals in nature: Count the number of animals in one box and multiply by the total number of boxes.

  • 4. Practice the grid system using other examples, such as pictures of birds in a tree, blood cells, or gum balls. (See example below.)

  • 5. Challenge students to imagine the grid in their heads without looking at it. Explain that scientists use an imaginary grid to recognize the number of animals traveling together in nature.

  • 6. Ask students to practice using the imaginary grid on different objects, such as cookies on a cookie sheet or pens on a desk.

  • 7. Take the lesson outside and practice using the imaginary grid for trees in the park, birds in a flock, plants in a flower bed, and rocks in a pile.

Practical and Assessment

Practical

Test your students' ability to estimate the number of animals in groups. Show different groups of objects to students. Then ask them to guess the number of objects from the picture or diagram.

Assessment

How'd your students do? Here are some ways to assess your students' comprehension of the material, reflective of grade level.

  • Exceeds standard: Student was able to give an estimate within 90 percent of the total number.
  • Meets standard: Student was able to give an estimate within 75 percent of the total number.
  • Below standard: Student was able to give an estimate that was less than 75 percent of the total number.

Teacher Tips

Keep previous lessons fresh in students' minds. Ask students to elaborate on the characteristics and behavior of the animals you use as examples.

Vocabulary

We use these terms throughout this and other NatureMapping lessons.

  • Vanishing point: In perspective drawing, the point at which receding axes converge
  • Perspective: Any graphic system used to create the illusion of three-dimensional images or spatial relationships on a two-dimensional surface. There are several types of perspective, such as linear, atmospheric, and projection system.
  • Horizon line: The line in a perspective drawing where the sky meets the ground. A drawing inside a room has an eye-level line.
  • Grid system: A series of boxes or circles divided into equal areas


This article originally published on 11/3/2008

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Lesson 7: How to Collect and Evaluate Observations in the Field

PDF Download Lesson 7 (68KB)

NatureMapping (NM) uses student data to help create a national biodiversity database, which offers scientists a great tool to learn about animal movement, behavior, and population changes. However, schools and scientists-in-the-making can also use the database. This final lesson teaches students how to use the database and similar technologies for data collection and analysis, shining a light on important math and analytical skills.

Although this lesson wraps up the curriculum, you can carry on with the project. Take students on regular field trips and explorations in which they can continue to identify, record, and analyze field data. Or ask local farmers or horticulturalists to lead a hike. For future lesson plans or ideas for more student involvement in nature, visit the NatureMapping Web site.

Lesson Objectives and Materials

Objectives

Students will

  • Understand how people use data to answer questions
  • Learn how to complete and submit the NM data-collection form
  • Use cognitive-thinking skills

Materials

Recording Data Accurately

Teach students the importance of recording data properly. Use the NM data-collection form as an example throughout this exercise. Follow these steps:

  • 1. Engage students in the activity by asking

    • Would we see different animals if we collected data at different times of the day?
    • Why is data important to researchers and scientists?
    • Why is it important to collect data correctly?
  • 2. Give an example of data collection that includes inconsistencies, such as the chart below, which shows different sections of the NM data-collection form. This chart highlights how one can record data in an inconsistent way.
  • Date

    Species Name

    How Observed

    TRS or Lat/Long

    11/16/09

    Anna's Humingbird

    Saw

    37.924416/ 121.999096

    16-Nov-09

    ana's hummingbird

    Saw it

    37.924416/ 121.999096

    11/16/2009

    Anna's Humm

    Sight

    37.924416/ 121.999096

  • 3. Ask students to explain what they see, emphasizing the pros and cons. Then highlight the inconsistencies.

    • The student wrote the date in three different formats. The NM format is MM/DD/YYYY.
    • The student listed "Anna's hummingbird" as the species name in three different ways.
    • In the "How Observed" column, the students has written that she observed the animal through sight in three different ways.
  • 4. Remind students about why and how NM uses student data to study animal movement, behavior, and preservation.

  • 5. Visit NM's Wildlife Distribution Maps page to see what species live in your school's location. Show students the number and types of animals that live in the area.

  • 6. Explain the proper way to prepare and submit data to NM, emphasizing the need for consistency throughout. For example, NM asks students to enter the common name and the scientific name of each species observed and to enter the specific ways in which the students observed them (for example, Saw, Trapped, or Heard). Make note of the capitalization and spelling standards.

For more information, visit How to Participate in the NatureMapping Program.

Practice Analyzing Data

Pre-Lesson Preparation: Prepare a large graph on 10- by 20-inch paper with several blank rows and columns. (See the chart below.) You will use this graph to list animal species and their numbers. Hang the blank paper horizontally on a flat surface.

Before this lesson, ask students to create a data-collection form that includes all the animals they've observed during their sit-spots or that they've seen from home, marking the number of times each animal was seen. Then collect the data in class to practice data analysis.

Follow these steps:

  • 1. Ask students to name the animals they've reported on their data-collection forms. Record each animal just once in the left-hand column of the graph.

  • 2. Ask students to record multiple sightings by sticking dots or other stickers beside the animal's name on the list. If the student saw the animal more than once, the student should write the number on the sticker.

  • 3. Complete the graph by asking students to label the x axis and y axis and to give the graph a title. Here's an example of a simple graph:
  • Animals

    Number of Animals Seen in the Schoolyard

    Robin

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    Rabbit

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    Dragonfly

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  • 4. Add more information to this graph for complexity, or create new graphs with additional information. Other graphs might include

    • Sight time
    • Sight date and season
    • Animal location
    • Animal habitat
    • Animal activity
  • 5. Review the graphs as a class for accuracy. Ask

    • Do the graphs make sense?
    • What do they tell us?
    • Does everything add up correctly?
  • 6. Brainstorm analytical questions from the data. For example

    • How many more robins than rabbits did we see in the schoolyard?
    • Why were more squirrels around at lunchtime than after school?
    • What activities were certain animals involved in at different times during the day?
  • 7. Copy the data into a computer spreadsheet, such as Excel, so you can analyze it using the questions above as prompts. Or use the following ideas to analyze the data:

    • Graph (in a pie chart) the number of species seen according to month, time of day, or location.
    • Plot data points on a map of the area, and see what you can learn from the map.
    • Older students can collect data using NM's NatureTracker software on a handheld device or GPS unit, hot-sync the data onto a computer, and review the points on a map. Look over the points to determine if students made any mistakes or to interpret the data.
  • 8. Review the results and form conclusions. Encourage students to ask questions that can be answered with the data. Work together to come up with some anchor questions that everyone can use, then encourage a lot of additional questions. Here are some examples:

    • Locate places that we missed in the sampling. Do these areas lack critters, or did we forget to look in those locations?
    • How much biodiversity exists in the areas plotted?
    • What kinds of animals did we see most often? Hear most often? Recognize by clues most often?
    • Have multiple students reported the same data?
    • How do the results reflect on where humans live? For example, would people want to live in an area with a large animal population? How do human populations influence wildlife behavior?

Practical and Assessment

Practical

Test your students' ability to think analytically. Ask them to create a data-collection form from their field journals and to come up with at least three questions they want to answer. Then they will sort and analyze the data to answer the questions. Be sure to clearly discuss the criteria for assessment.

Assessment

How'd your students do? Here are some ways to assess your students' ability to analyze data, reflective of grade level.

Exceeds standard:

  • Student has accurately completed the data sheet so he or she can easily transfer data to charts or graphs.
  • Student was able to sort data into different categories.
  • Student was able to count and data in different categories either by hand or using a spreadsheet.
  • Student has asked and answered three questions about the data.

Meets standard:

  • Student has made occasional mistakes on the data sheet.
  • Student was able to sort data into categories.
  • Student was able to count data points in one category.
  • Student was able to answer just two of the three questions about the data.

Below standard:

  • Student had irregularities and made mistakes in the data sheets.
  • Student had difficulty sorting and counting data points.
  • Student had difficulty writing questions that he or she could answer with the data.

Teacher Tips

Bring an English-learning component to the lesson by emphasizing how spelling, capitalization, and exact wording lead to better data analysis.

Related NatureMapping Activities:

If you enjoyed this lesson, check out these links to additional NatureMapping materials.

  • Data Collection Protocols: This activity teaches students the skills to complete the data-collection form properly for submission to the NatureMapping Program.
  • Using Emerging Technologies to Collect and Analyze Data: This activity shows students how to migrate their data from data-collection forms and maps to NatureTracker data collection software and GPS units; teaches the concept of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) through an exercise using Powerpoint and Excel; and helps students understand the basics of GIS.


This article originally published on 11/3/2008

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Release Date: 9/17/08

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More collaboration, critical thinking, and knowledge retention are the fruits of an integrated curriculum. Read a short introductory article or watch a brief introductory video.

Dennis Harper: Harnessing Student-Led Tech Support

Dennis Harper

Dennis Harper


Credit: Peter Hoey

Dennis Harper does not mince words when it comes to the premise of his life's work. "Kids know more than you do," he says.