Since the summer the CPH team has had several changes to its program. For example, we lost our lead science teacher, Angie Garcia, to the district. Dan Pearson (our Tech teacher) took over as lead coordinator and Darci Kimball is now our science specialist. Unfortunately Darci doesn’t have the same common prep as us so arranging meetings has been a little difficult. We have to arrange our planning time outside of our prep which is quite difficult when you are involved in numerous projects at school. I really think have a common prep is crucial to having a successful program. Our English teacher also dropped out of the program as well. As a result, we have had a serious delay in the start of our actual project. In addition to the start time, we also changed our focus entirely. The CPH team was originally going to focus on infectious diseases, however, we have now changed our Cyberbridge project to a Microbial BioBlitz. I have to admit infectious diseases was an easier topic for me to integrate into my Geography curriculum, however, my colleagues have helped me understand how the BioBlitz pertains to my subject area. Also our scientist, Scott Kelly, researched Bioinformatics and some of his studies pertain to what we are actually doing.
As a group we are working on organizing our BioBlitz and working out the fine details. We have already pre-surveyed our students about the experience and now our main goal is to produce a teacher manual so other schools in the district can also implement this program as well. Our projected pilot date is March 2 where students will walk around the school and collect various samples to find different strains of bacteria. Our program is emphasizing that some of the bacteria collected might contain certain enzymes which will help break down or build up other substances. These enzymes can be used for multiple areas such as medicine, agriculture, environment, and industry. For example, bacteria that depletes plastic could be resourceful in landfills or a bacteria that breaks down oil can be resourceful in an oil spill. Throughout first semester, students in my geography class were exposed to the effects humans have on the environment, such as deforestation in the Amazon Basin or the Exxon Valdez oil spill tragedy. Students will continue to learn about the positives and negatives of human interaction with the environment, however, they will understand why it is important to find new species to make scientific advances in these fields. Darci, our science teacher, and I are coordinating some lesson plans that emphasize these ideas.
Besides teaching about the importance of finding the bacteria, I am also teaching students about the importance of location. My students will be searching for specimens and need to accurately describe where they collected their samples. In our first semester, I taught my students the basics about location such as latitude/longitude, mapping, directions, and absolute vs. relative location. In second semester students, students will learn how to use a GPS system in order to describe their location (something they will be using on the BioBlitz).
I have attached some examples (but not all) of activities my students completed in class. Some of the activities included are:
• An interview students conducted with someone they knew based on the 5 themes of geography (students filled out a graphic organizer with their answers) (attached)
• Basic latitude and longitude practice worksheets (attached)- later students were given a list of cities which they had to figure out the latitude and longitude for each (not attached)
• After practicing directions, students were given a school map where they had to explain how to get to certain places. (attached)
• One assignment that relates to location is that I had students create their own maps which had to have specific features like certain land forms they learned about, latitude/longitude, directions, etc. (unfortunately I could not find a work sample of this)
• After learning about the causes and effects of environmental problems in the US/Canada region, students brainstormed possible solutions (attached)
• For the Latin American unit, students learned about deforestation in the Amazon Basin and how it effects the region and the world (attached)
• After learning about environmental problems in Russia and Europe, students created a conversation between two people from the region (attached)
• Students learned about the pros and cons of certain events in the Middle East/North Africa region (attached)