Pond Ecosystem (4 hours)

During this in-depth study, students will learn the producer, consumer, and decomposer organisms of the pond ecosystem.  Students will investigate the watershed, conduct water tests, collect and examine organisms.  Students will rotate through the stations to focus on the relationships between plants and animals and their environment.  The maximum number of classes scheduled for the Pond Ecosystem program is four.  The Pond Ecosystem program may be modified to accommodate one, two, three, or four groups.

Shoreline Sampling

Students will be shown how to use nets in order to collect samples of the organisms found along the shoreline of the pond.  Students will then use nets in order to collect samples of these organisms.  With the assistance of the instructor and identification cards, students will learn to identify these organisms and relate them to their lifecycle and role in the ecosystem.  Students will also learn plant and animal relationships within the pond ecosystem and be able to distinguish between producers, consumers, and decomposers.

Watershed

Students will discover how to define a watershed in a hands-on activity using a relief map (a three-dimensional map).  Students will also learn how water moves both above and below ground.  Students will then visit several sampling holes that expose the water table on a path to the stream in order to collect depth and temperature measurements.  Students will assist in measuring the distance of the water below the surface of the ground and the temperature of the water.  This data will then be related to the physical aspects of the landscape.  Observations will then continue with the stream that feeds the pond.  The flow rate of the stream will be measured and linked to the amounts of sediment carried and deposited by the stream.  Students will have an opportunity to see where the stream enters the pond in order to observe the changing flow rate, temperature, and the different habitats created by changes in the physical environment.

Aquatic Boat Tour

The group will first be oriented with the equipment used and the rules of behavior for the boat tour.  All students will wear life jackets as they then board a series of canoes that have been joined together to allow for group instruction and to secure the boats from tipping.  While in the canoes, the students will assist in collecting samples from the pond in order to discover the zones of the pond and variations in temperature and light with increasing depths of the pond.  Students will assist in collecting a detritus sample from the bottom of the pond, measuring depth of the pond, sunlight penetration, and recording a surface to deeper water temperature profile.  Plankton samples will also be collected for further observation under a microscope.  The physical measurements will be related to the overall biological structure and function of the pond ecosystem.  All instructors for the boat tour are certified lifeguards.

Pond Relationships

Students will be seated in a classroom in order to learn the functional relationships between the plants and animals of the pond community.  The classroom experience will illustrate the various life zones and biological functions of the pond.  The students will also learn about the dynamic nature of the pond as it is affected by seasonal and external influences.  While in the classroom, the students will have the opportunity for close-up observation of some live and preserved specimens that inhabit ponds.  Students will learn the tropic role of each these animals within the pond ecosystem.

Pond Ecosystem Vocabulary

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