Summer SAVY Session 5, Day 1, Aquatic Ecology
Day 1: Good evening. At the beginning of the day, we spent time introducing ourselves and getting to know each other using question bingo. We’ll do variations on this theme for at least the next two days. We discussed appropriate behavior, particularly regarding microscopes and other equipment and materials. While the experiments/labs we perform do not require dangerous materials, beyond tweezers and glass slides, it is important that the students learn how to be safe and avoid accidents. Next, we discussed the basics of aquatic ecology and the types of systems that an aquatic ecologist could study. Throughout the week will investigate different ways in which one can study aquatic ecosystems. We finished up the morning with experimental design by analyzing experiments and learning about hypotheses, independent variables, dependent variables, control groups, replication, and constants. You can ask your child what these terms mean and provide examples from today’s discussion.
After lunch, we talked about systems as an introduction to the idea of the ecosystem. We used a home and fish tank as examples of systems, determining the inputs, outputs, and processes going on in each system. They will come to appreciate that modifying the inputs to an aquatic system can have detrimental impacts. The last thing we did was set up an experiment to examine the relationship between nutrients and algal growth. With prompting they were able to design the experiment and figure out that they should test more than one concentration of fertilizer. While they know that fertilizer makes plants/algae grow they concluded that there is such a thing as too much fertilizer. One idea that we struggled with was how to measure algal growth. This led to a discussion of the difference between subjective and objective data. We decided that taking pictures each day would make the data less subjective. I look forward to working with your children and getting to know them this week. This is a curious and informed group of students.