Some of the NERR staff’s favorite research has been in search of knowledge of native oysters and climate change. Like any work, enjoyment of science is in part about who you are working with, and in these topics we’ve had fun, insightful, and hard-working collaborators. So, we are very excited to be continuing this line of study with some of the same collaborators, and a new one – maybe it is you! We are recruiting 10 Marin-based middle school teachers to join the oyster research team. Details can be found here. We are also sharing a lesson that uses a recent oyster die-off at China Camp to engage students in authentic science questions. The lesson is rich with NGSS practices – especially analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations, and arguing from evidence – and could be a springboard into deeper investigations using NERRS data. The lesson is based on research described in Anna Deck’s blog post, and reported on in several news sources, but don’t show your students those articles until after they have solved the mystery! We would love your feedback to make version 2 even better! Email Sarah at daviess “at”sfsu.edu or post Facebook page.
The lesson meets the NGSS Performance Expectation MS-LS2-4:
MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on recognizing patterns in data and making warranted inferences about changes in populations, and on evaluating empirical evidence supporting arguments about changes to ecosystems.]
Download the Lesson Plan (updated Sept. 2017) here: ChinaCampOysterMystery_v2
The lesson could also be used at the high school level to meet HS-LS2-2 and HS-LS2-6. Please let us know if you want to brainstorm ideas or additional data sources to increase the difficulty of the concepts.
HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
HS-LS2-6. Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.