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Lesson Plan: Exploring Virginias Ecosystems

Teacher name

Catharina Grbe

Grade Level


Time duration

60 minutes
Materials needed

Digital cameras with Universal Serial Bus (USB) cables
Internet access
Students require Google Accounts to access Google Hangouts and
Google Docs

Lesson Objective

Science Standards of Learning
BIO.8 The student will investigate and understand dynamic equilibria
within populations, communities, and ecosystems. Key
concepts include

e) analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia

Purpose of the lesson

During this lesson, students will learn about the types of organisms found in
Virginia. Through field research, the students will observe how organisms
interact with their environments. By posting their observations on Project
Noah, the students will learn about the methods that scientists use to share
data with the global community. The students will gain knowledge about
online collaboration tools by utilizing Google Hangouts and Google Docs.
This lesson will help students to understand how scientists study wildlife.
The students will also gain an understanding of the life forms that exist in
their community. The class will create a presentation documenting their
observations regarding the living organisms found around their school.

Activity Before this lesson begins, the teacher will gain permission for the students
to work outside in a safe area of the schools property. She will also register
her classroom with Project Noah, an online community that tracks wildlife
sightings. Project Noah contains a database that documents wildlife
sightings from all over the world. Students can access Project Noah through
the website

During the first fifteen minutes of class, the teacher will briefly discuss the
types of ecosystems found in Virginia. Next, the teacher will divide the
students into three groups. She will ask each group to study different types
of life forms found within Virginias ecosystems. One group will examine
plants and fungi. Another group will study invertebrate animals. The final
group will examine vertebrate animals. Each group should have access to at
least one digital camera.

The students will spend fifteen minutes gathering information through the
Internet to find out which species of their assigned life forms are found in
Virginias ecosystems. Then, the teacher will give the groups fifteen
minutes to conduct research outside in a safe area of the schools property.
The students will try to find examples of their assigned life forms on the
school property. When they find an organism, they will examine the
organism as well as its surrounding ecosystem. The students will use digital
cameras to take pictures of the organisms and ecosystems.

During the final fifteen minutes of the lesson, the students will upload
pictures of the organisms they found onto Project Noah. Through Project
Noah, they will compose descriptions of the organisms and ecosystems that
they observed. For homework, the groups will use Google Hangouts to
work together on locating the scientific names of the organisms that they
found. They will be able to search the Project Noah database to help them
identify unknown organisms. As they identify the organisms, they will
update the information that they posted on Project Noah. They will also
search the Project Noah database to find out if the organisms that they
identified have been sighted in other areas of the world. Through Project
Noah, the students will be able to view the progress of several ongoing
wildlife research studies. They could choose to add their sightings to
applicable research studies. Finally, the class will work together using
Google Docs to combine their observations and findings into one

Assessment The teacher will examine the students posts on Project Noah to see if they
were able to locate and identify living organisms and ecosystems around
their school. By analyzing the class presentation, the teacher will determine
if the students understood how to use Project Noah to examine the global
prevalence and ecosystems of the organisms that they identified. The
teacher will also view the class presentation to see if the students were able
to link their observations together by using online collaboration tools. If the
students had difficulty using the online collaboration tools, the teacher will
create a tutorial for the students to use as a guide during future assignments.