What are some characteristics of Great Lakes fish?
If you know how to construct a dichotomous key, you can make one that classifies real organisms, some fish in the Great Lakes. After building a dichotomous key, students will describe some ways fish differ from each other in appearance and use similar characteristics of fish to group them into categories for classification.
Who Can Harvest a Walleye?
Students play a board game where they learn the meaning of the following terms as they relate to a
biomass pyramid: producer, herbivore, first-order carnivore, second-order carnivore; calculate the relative number of kilograms at each level of the biomass pyramid in a given environment; and analyze how different conditions in the environment affect the pyramid.
Students study Creature Cards at sand dune ecosystem stations and determine what adaptations help the organisms to live in their environments.
- List organisms that live in the dunes.
- Describe the specialized adaptations of sand dune organisms.
- Explain the different habitats in sand dunes.
Rival for Survival
This game presents real-life choices involving exotic species found in the Great Lakes, such as zebra mussels and purple loosestrife. Students are to analyze a situation related to ecology and make an environmentally sound decision. After playing the game, students organize what they learned into a concept map.
Wetland in a Pan
Students build a model wetland to understand that wetlands are defined by plants, soil and water, identify some wetland types and their locations, and relate importance of wetland function to people’s needs and daily lives.
Seeing Purple: A Population Explosion
Through a simulation, sampling, and estimation activity, students learn about the impact of purple loosestrife on a wetland due to its exponential growth. They learn about purple loosestrife’s life cycle and appreciate how scientists determine population size in an ecosystem.
Don’t Stop for Hitchhikers!
Students role-play the part of lake inhabitants and the aquatic exotics who displace the native species. Props are used to help demonstrate how aquatic exotic species enter a lake or river system, the negative effect they have on the native species, and things people can do to stop the spread of exotic species.
Students will be able to:
- Identify exotic species and ways they are transported.
- Learn about several exotics that affect water habitat.
- Identify the negative or positive effects of exotic species on native animals.
- Know how these exotics are transported and ways people can help to stop further spread.
Estuary Values and Changes
Activity A: What is the ecological role of an estuary?
In this investigation, students use various sets of data to examine some of the characteristics of the estuary at Old Woman Creek,near Huron, Ohio. Students learn about the methods used by ecologists to sample populations of plant and animal life in aquatic ecosystems, the living communities that are found in different depths of water in an estuary, and how plant communities are important to animal life in an estuary.
Activity B: How do estuaries impact nutrients entering a lake?
Students analyze a map and data to learn how estuaries affect nutrient levels as water enters a lake.
They make predictions about how the effects of climate change might affect an estuary’s ability to improve water quality and function properly.
External Curriculum Materials
Trees on the Move: Can Maples and Buckeyes Migrate?
Activity A: What do climate models predict about tree ranges?
This lesson introduces examples of how General Circulation Models [GCMs] predict possible scenarios of climate change. Three methods of visualizing change are introduced and students compare how sugar maples and buckeye trees’ climate niches are likely to be altered.
Activity B: How can trees migrate?
The seeds of maples and buckeyes are “dispersed” in an outdoor simulation of how far a tree species might be able to spread over several tree generations.
Activity C: How does temperature affect maple seed germination?
Students examine research data on seed germination at different temperatures to infer some of the impacts of temperature on species survival.
Activity D: After the maples, then what?
Students study an outdoor area that has sugar maples and other species. Following research methods of Catherine Keever, they catalog the size and relative abundance of species in the plot and infer what species is likely to succeed if maples disappear.
Climate Change and Aquatic Invaders
Using a jigsaw pedagogical strategy, students research aquatic invasive species and then manipulate cards to identify aquatic invasive species and explain the effects of global climate change on these species.