4. Pond Water - Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan
Creek visit:

  1. Describe the general plan for the field trip and the goals of the day: 1) to get a sense of the creek environment and 2) to collect a plankton sample to take back to the classroom. You may want to show students where you are going on a map.
  2. Set out behavioral guidelines for the trip.
  3. Go to the creek.
  4. At the creek, tell students that they will be doing a sense of place activity in which they will observe their surroundings using each one of their senses in turn to observe their environment. Each student should find a place to sit at least an arms length from all other students but within ear and eye shot of the teacher.
  5. Tell students to close their eyes and quietly take a few long deep breaths and relax a moment. When students stop fidgeting and become still, ask them to notice the smells in the air. How are the smells here different from at school? What can you identify? Think of adjectives to describe the smells.
  6. Next stick out your tongue. How does it feel? Are there any tastes in the air? Does it taste cold? Metallic? Sour? Moist? Sweet? Fresh?
  7. Next listen to the sounds here. Listen for sounds close by. Listen for sounds far away. What sounds are man-made? What are natural? How are the sounds different from how this place might have sounded a thousand years ago before it was settled by Europeans?
  8. Next put your hands on the ground beside you. What do you feel? Are there any objects you can identify without opening your eyes? Pick up some dirt. What is the texture of the dirt? Are all the particles the same size?
  9. Finally open your eyes and look at where you are. Look at the living things and the non-living things. Look for natural things and man-made things. Pick one living thing that you think nobody else has notices. Watch it for a while.
  10. Allow students time to share their observations with the group. This process of observation helps students connect to their surroundings and notice much more than they would with their eyes open.
  11. 5-10 minutes before you need to leave, end the sense of place activity and move to a water access point to collect your water sample.
  12. Either squeeze water from the algae, water plants, and dead leaves by the bank into your sample jar OR use your plankton net to collect plankton. To use a plankton net, throw the net as far as possible into the water being sure to hold onto the string. If there is a current, allow the net to drift in the current for a a few minutes. Drag the net back and pour out the contents into your collection jar.
  13. Return to the classroom

Pond water investigation:

  1. Tell students that they will be looking at the pond water they collected (or that you collected earlier) through microscopes. Their goal is to identify living things and draw pictures of them in their lab notebooks. Define the words organism (Organism - a living thing) and plankton (Plankton - organisms that are found in fresh or salt water and drift with the current, they are usually very small and found near the surface such as algae but may be very large such as jellyfish). Remind them that not all living things move on their own (plants) and to think carefully about their assumptions of what living things are.
  2. Give student a brief course or review of proper microscope procedures. Introduce the names of various parts of the microscope.
  3. Demonstrate the procedure for making a slide and loading that slide onto the microscopes stage.
  4. Divide the students into groups and allow them to get started. Briefly, students will be making drawings of their field of view, identifying the living things in their slide and answering question about them using the student sheet.
  5. Allow time for clean up and proper storage of the microscopes and rinsing of the slides.
  6. Gather students back to their seats for a discussion of their observations. Some questions to ask include:
    • What kinds of organisms did you observe?
    • Which organisms were most common?
    • How did you determine whether something was living versus non-living?
    • Which organisms were most complex? Which were most simple?
    • How did the organisms move?
    • Could you tell which organisms could make their own food through photosynthesis and which ate other organisms? How?
    • How might the population of organisms that we observed today change over time?
    • What is a habitat? (Habitat - the area where an organism or an ecological community normally lives)
    • What is a microhabitat? (Microhabitat - a very small, specialized habitat such as a drop of water, a fish tank, a pine cone, the area between 2 rocks, etc.)
    • What other microhabitats are there? (a Terraqua column (see Terraqua Column Lesson), the soil critters isolated from a Tullgren funnel (see Soil Analysis lesson).