Friday, 17 August 2012

BioBlitz - Your Next Adventure!

When I was a TN science workshop trainer, we often asked participants to sketch a scientist. The most common drawings were those of mad professors in lab coats, but the best ones showed children at work, being scientists. My favorite depicted a little girl in hip-waders taking water samples in a pond.

If you, like the teacher who drew that little girl, want your students to DO science, here is a great idea for your class: a bioblitz biological inventory!

National Geographic Education defines bioblitz as "an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time." The National Park Service is partnering with the National Geographic Society for the 10 years leading up to the 100th birthday of the NPS in 2016 to conduct 24-hour biological inventories in various parks. This year's bioblitz is next weekend, August 24-25, in Rocky Mountain National Park

As much as I would love to visit the Rockies again, I won't be there next weekend, and I doubt you will either. But you and your students can participate vicariously!

Take them to this year's site, BioBlitz 2012: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado to introduce them to the concept. Check back after the event closes for an update on the findings.

Go to sites for previous events for photos, videos, and organism counts:
BioBlitz 2011: Saguaro National Park, Arizona
BioBlitz 2010: Biscayne National Park, Florida (the first ever marine bioblitz)
BioBlitz 2009: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan
BioBlitz 2008: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California
BioBlitz 2007: Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.

Once your students have seen what a big bioblitz is like, they'll be ready to participate in their own local one. And National Geographic being National Geographic, they've provided a complete Neighborhood BioBlitz Activity Guide for you to do just that - with directions, objectives, preparation, and background & vocabulary! The kiddos will return from the field to do research to identify the organisms they observed, and team up to make a biodiversity map. There are discussion questions and a writing assignment for you to use as an informal assessment. Oh, my.

I can't imagine a science activity that would conform more closely to the Common Core goals of rigor and relevance, or one that would have students more engaged and invested in their learning. Have a wonderful adventure, and please let me know how YOUR bioblitz goes!