Saturday, March 27, 2010

McKinney Falls Field Component- March 27, 2010

On Saturday, March 27, 2010, UTeach Project-Based Instruction pre-service teachers took 9th grade biology students from Manor New Tech High to McKinney Falls State Park. Students collected data for their 2-week long project on designing a sanctuary for an endangered species: Texas Wild Rice (Zizania texana). The driving question for the field experience was: “Could McKinney Falls State Park be a suitable habitat for a Texas Wild Rice sanctuary?” A team of seven PBI pre-service teachers worked together to design the project. In the field, they divided into four sub-teams in the morning and four different sub-teams in the afternoon in order to collect data in different places at McKinney Falls. The teams were observed by a PBI professor, a PBI master teacher, other UTeach master teachers, and participants in a PBI Workshop (which included professors, instructors, and master teachers from other universities that are replicating the UTeach Program).

The students were involved in deciding where would be good places to collect data. When the students agreed upon a location, they documented latitude and longitude, described the shoreline, characterized the substrate, measured the streamflow, and conducted a variety of water quality assessments (including temperature, pH, Nitrate, dissolved oxygen, and a bioassessment of macroinvertebrates). They also compared and contrasted different types of plants and their adaptations to their ecological niches, described how different plant tissues perform different functions, discussed how Carbon and Nitrogen cycle through the ecosystem, and predicted how ecosystems may respond to changing resource bases (such as the effects of the introduction of a new organism or a shift in other parameters). After collecting data, each team presented their findings. They determined that McKinney Falls does not provide a suitable habitat for Texas Wild Rice.

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