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REEFS 2022

REEFS – Resources for Ecology Education, Fair and Share –  is an annual event held during ESA’s Annual Meeting. It is organized jointly by ESA’s Office of Education and Diversity and the Education Section. 

The following resources will be presented during the 14th REEFS Session at the 2021 ESA Annual Meeting. There will be two round robin sessions during this workshop, each 30 minutes long. Please select one presentation per round robin. 

Materials from all presenters will be available after the workshop. 

Learning Activities 

Sessions for Round Robin 1 – Choose 1

Sessions for Round Robin 2 – Choose 1 

Return to the REEFS main page.


Descriptions

Round Robin 1 – choose 1 

Effects of streetlights on ground arthropod communities

Author: Christopher Beck, Emory University

Audience level: Introductory Ecology for majors

Abstract: In urban environments, light pollution from street lights alters the light environment for nocturnal animals.  Artificial lighting can alter the behavior of a variety of animals including moths, hatchling sea turtles, and bats.  An interesting study from England showed that artificial street lights can alter the community of ground-dwelling invertebrates in close proximity to the lights (Davies et al. 2012).  However, whether the effect of street lights on ground-dwelling invertebrates occurs in other locations is unknown.  Therefore, we will investigate whether streetlights impact ground-dwelling invertebrates in their local environments. Using the data that they collect, students can examine the impact of light pollution on natural communities.

Extent this learning activity is developed: Highly developed, implemented multiple times in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Disturbance and Succession (A 4DEE Active Learning Lecture Example)

Disturbance and Succession (A 4DEE Active Learning Lecture Example)

Author: Justin St. Juliana, Cornell University

Audience level: Introductory Ecology for non-majors, Introductory Ecology for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for non-majors, or mixed

Abstract: I will present materials for a lecture in which students explore disturbance and succession through a series of active learning events. Students spend ~50% of their time as active participants during the 50 min. lecture. This active lecture is representative of active lectures, with attention to 4DEE, which we have developed for many subjects that cover an entire semester of a mixed majors & non-majors intro ecology course. The lecture has been used actively both face to face and online.

Extent this learning activity is developed: Highly developed, implemented multiple times in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Using local green spaces when teaching and learning Environmental Science

Author: Terryanne Maenza-Gmelch, Barnard College

Audience level: Introductory Ecology for non-majors, Introductory Environmental Science for non-majors, or mixed

Abstract: Environmental Science for non-majors can be meaningfully taught and learned remotely when students use their local green spaces to apply concepts and make observations and measurements. Three activities used in Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 are offered in this presentation: (1) locate and use of a local square meter of vegetation to learn plant identification, make measurements and calculate a biodiversity index, (2) walk a ten-minute transect along a student’s local waterway to collect and tally trash items and (3) take an inventory of your close closet or dresser and categorize fabrics and manufacturing location to assess environmental impact of choices.

Extent this learning activity is developed: Highly developed, implemented multiple times in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Data cases with milkweed to ask questions and develop solutions

Author: Emily Mohl, St. Olaf College

Audience level: Introductory Biology for majors, Introductory Biology for non-majors, Introductory Biology for mixed majors, Introductory Ecology for non-majors, Introductory Ecology for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for non-majors, or mixed

Abstract: Milkweed plants are essential for the life cycle of monarch butterflies. However, there has been a steady decline of monarchs in part with the decline of milkweed plants. In this session participants will 1) learn how we used common milkweed and phenology in data cases to allow undergraduate students authentic opportunities to apply data analysis and interpretation skills to develop conservation and restoration plans. We will share our data cases and lessons we use currently in ecology labs for undergraduate students. 2), We will provide examples of how using the interactions of milkweed and monarchs provided not only structure to practice nuanced scientific skills but also allowed undergraduate research assistants opportunities to branch out and produce independent research projects and other creative work, such as curricula for elementary and secondary classrooms that align with several of the Benchmarks of the 4DEE (2019) and NGSS (2013).

Extent this learning activity is developed: Newly developed, implemented once or twice in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Sourdough starters as a teaching tool in ecology

Author: Urmi Poddar, Stony Brook University

Audience level: Introductory Biology for majors, Introductory Biology for mixed majors, Introductory Ecology for non-majors, Introductory Ecology for majors

Abstract: The process of fermenting food can be used as an educational tool for demonstrating ecological concepts like community assembly, environmental filtering, disturbance, and ecosystem services (Scott & Sullivan, 2008). Fermentation occurs at much shorter time-scales than processes involving larger organisms, is much more amenable to manipulative experiments, and can generally be done without specialized equipment. Creating and observing sourdough starters is especially useful for this purpose, as it goes through distinct stages that show the process of succession. (Sourdough starters also have visually observable characteristics, while in other kinds of fermentation, one may need to smell and/or taste the end product to judge the results). In this presentation, I will talk about an educational experiment with sourdough starters, which can be used to teach students about the above-mentioned ecological concepts. This experiment can be used for a term project and/or as Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience.

Extent this learning activity is developed: In development, has not been implemented in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Sessions for Round Robin 2

Adding a virtual dimension to the Crosstown Walk

Author: George Middendorf, Howard University

Audience level: Introductory Ecology for non-majors, Introductory Ecology for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for non-majors, or mixed, Advanced Ecology course

Abstract: The Crosstown Walk exercise focuses on determining environmental and quality of life differences along a cross-town transect spanning a socioeconomic gradient (usually done in an area adjacent to campus). Data collected along this transect allow students to examine relationships of demographic (economic; social; etc.) and environmental (amount of shade; air quality; tree, plant, insect diversity) factors. While traditional ecological field exercises have focused on measurements of species distribution and abundance, this exercise places those measurements with an anthropogenic context, relating ecological conditions to issues of public health and safety. Depending on the complexity of data collection, analytic sophistication, and scope of the presentation, the exercise can be done as a single or multiple “lab” units. For example, students can examine ecological parameters like tree species height and condition; insect numbers and density; or bird diversity while they walk along a socioeconomic gradient collecting data on building type and value; modes of transportation; food and beverage store locations; population density; yard condition; and/or resident race and ethnicity. Prior to the onset of covid, students generally examined the data that they, themselves collected on their walk. During the pandemic lockdown, students were unable to collect their own data but instead gathered data from a variety of online sources that provide different, but often similar information. For instance, data on trees and canopy coverage were obtained from Google Earth; on transportation from city planning documents; on building type and value from Zillow.com; on census tract block group data (as an indicator of neighborhood economy) by combining observations on Google street view with estimates from Kelley Blue Book; on tree type, cover and condition from satellite imagery (or local databases like those from Casey Trees); and on racial/ethnic data from the US Census Bureau. Now that students are back on campus, the Crosstown Walk exercise can be modified to include both in-person and online data, increasing opportunities for students to develop their own research questions by sharing and comparing data across both space and time. Because virtual data collections means that students are not restricted to their campus location, they can collect data from a variety of urban sites. Similarly, students are able to look beyond the present and into the past by examining changes over time using stored imagery and data. Thus, the Crosstown Walk is an ideal exemplar for the integration of the 4DEE approach into both real and virtual field exercises.

Extent this learning activity is developed: Highly developed, implemented multiple times in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

Pond in a jar: Field ecology for a hybrid/online classroom

Author: Simon Pearish, Norwich University

Audience level: Introductory Biology for majors, Introductory Biology for non-majors, Introductory Biology for mixed majors, Introductory Ecology for non-majors, Introductory Ecology for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for non-majors, or mixed

Abstract: Online teaching and learning presents obstacles to some of the goals science educators value; getting students out into nature, facilitating hands-on research, and giving each student a voice and ownership over their projects. Here, I present a semester-long laboratory activity designed with the high-school or beginning college level student in mind. Students use samples from their nearest aquatic habitat to create replicate mesocosms in canning jars. Weekly lessons guide students through the basics of population, community, and ecosystem ecology as well as statistical analysis and creation of figures. Students learn low-tech data collection techniques through guided experiments and then apply these methods to their own unique hypothesis-driven experiment. Students gain experience communicating science by presenting their progress in weekly video posts and a presentation of their independent research

Extent this learning activity is developed: Highly developed, implemented multiple times in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Schoobio: Increasing Biocultural Diversity through Student Data and Civic Engagement

Author: Shari Wilson, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Audience level: Middle and high school science/ecology and other disciplines. It could also be used in biology, ecology, and environmental science courses at university level.

Abstract: Through a new global curriculum, Schoobio, students in middle/high school and college participate in transdisciplinary activities culminating in their advocacy for biocultural diversity on school grounds. Interacting with other students through a website portal, they share biodiversity data and come to better understand other cultures, as well as their own, and how they relate to nature. The foundation for this innovative curriculum is a biocultural diversity knowledge system and authentic, experiential, place-based learning.

Students use tools and technology to map their grounds, collect biodiversity data, use their maps and data to design their ideal bioculturally diverse school grounds, and present their ideas to school leaders. The curriculum was created using Universal Design for Learning, which offers numerous ways for students to access lessons and express their own thoughts and capabilities. Instructional strategies are focused on learning from the student’s perspective, within the 4DEE Framework of Human-Environment Interactions and Cross-cutting Themes.

Extent this learning activity is developed: Newly developed, implemented once or twice in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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Lichens in Diverse Landscape – flexible learning module

Author: Mary Beth Kolozsvary, Siena College

Audience level: Introductory Ecology for non-majors, Introductory Ecology for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for majors, Introductory Environmental Science for non-majors, or mixed

Abstract: This flexible project includes modules on field data collection, geospatial analysis, and statistical analysis to examine how lichen species, which are an important group of bio-indicators, are influenced by abiotic and biotic drivers. Individual activities that can be adopted or omitted by instructors. The core modules (Module 1 Spatial Analysis and Module 2 Field Data Collection) contain instructions on how to analyze geospatial data e.g. NEON site data and environmental pollution data (including nutrient deposition) and to collect local field data on lichens. Module 3, which focuses on data analysis, is designed to help students learn how to explore and analyze data collected in the first two modules. Instructors can pick and choose individual components of modules that they would like to choose in their classroom or conduct the entire field data analysis module and be a part of a larger EREN citizen science project.

Extent this learning activity is developed: Newly developed, implemented once or twice in a classroom, lecture or laboratory

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