This lesson was adapted and inspired by the Pond Water lesson available at Science NetLinks. This site has student worksheets and other excellent resources.
Instructions for building plankton nets can be found at The Plankton Net and Bigelow Laboratory.
The Plankton Net has superb scientific information, photographs, and resources about plankton ecology and marine science in general.
Miscape has a superb cartoon drawing identification key for common pond water organisms as well as information about collecting and maintaining pond water organisms in the classroom.
A superb pond life site can be found at the Sparsholt Schools' Centre. Their "virtual pond dip" is an excellent pond insect identification guide.
The book Pond Life: Revised and Updated (a Golden Guide from St. Martin's Press) by George K Reid is an excellent resource with an identification key for pond life ranging from the microscopic to common birds and mammals.
A great source of information about microscopes and their parts may be found at Microscope.org.
If you do not have compound microscopes (or any microscopes at all) many pond water organisms such as coepepods, ostracods, algae, and insect larvae may be observed with a hand lens. If you have more time or want to integrate an optics project into your pond water investigation, you can build your own microscope out of simple everyday materials. A super microscope plan can be found at the Fun Science Gallery.
Ecology (Life Sciences)
5. Organisms in ecosystems exchange energy and nutrients among themselves and with the environment. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know energy entering ecosystems as sunlight is transferred by producers into chemical energy through photosynthesis and then from organism to organism
through food webs.
e. Students know the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and on abiotic factors, such as quantities of light and water, a range of temperatures, and soil composition.
1. All living organisms are composed of cells, from just one to many trillions, whose details usually are visible only through a microscope.
Investigation and Experimentation
7. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:
b. Select and use appropriate tools and technology (including calculators, computers, balances, spring scales, microscopes, and binoculars) to perform tests, collect data, and display data.