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Bonita Creek Notes to Teachers

The activities presented at this website were written so that they can be adapted for students in upper elementary school, middle school, and 9th Grade. They may be incorporated into the classroom curriculum; form the basis of student at-home projects; or lead to the development of a student’s science fair project. The activities are related to content goals established by the current State of California Science Content Standards, including:

  • Ecology: Interdependencies in the ecosystem (4th Grade)
  • Earth Sciences: The role of water and natural water purification (5th Grade)
  • Earth Sciences: Shaping the Earth’s surface (6th Grade)
  • Ecology: Nutrient cycling, stability and equilibrium (9th Grade)

To aid in your (or your student’s) completion of these activities and to get the most out of them, the following suggestions are made:

  1. Be creative with your use of materials. The materials needed for these activities were selected because they are easy to find as well as inexpensive. There are also alternatives so feel free to be creative. For example, instead of a plastic shoebox for a watershed (Activity 4), use those large clear plastic lids used to cover prepared food. Or, a low cardboard box lined with a plastic garbage bag will suffice so long as you support the bottom. Have the students bring in items as part of their assignment.
  2. Encourage students to take the projects one step (or more) further. The activities were written to be open-ended so that you or your students may pursue answers to questions that come up during the course of the activity.
  3. All the activities that are presented here have been performed and modified, as necessary. Admittedly, some activities (such as stuffing a sponge through a straw) may seem nearly impossible, but they really aren’t. You may want to try it yourself before your students attempt it.
  4. You may want to have your students apply what they learn to their own school environment. They may start a water-testing lab in the classroom, and provide their services to the school by testing irrigation water or drinking water. Perhaps there may be an erosion problem in landscaped areas of the school grounds that students can study and formulate solutions.
  5. If you don’t have one, you may want to get a dissecting microscope. A dissecting microscope is an excellent instrument to have in the classroom. With a dissecting scope, you can examine root and leaf vein structure, stomatal pores, and the composition of soil. They are very easy to use and are also generally less expensive than compound microscopes. If funding is limited (as it usually is), check local college salvage sales, or reputable online auction sites. You may even want to approach your school’s PTA. You can usually find good quality instruments for less than $300.00. You may also want to acquire a digital camera that mounts on the microscope to view and capture images on the computer. These devices also can cost as little as $300.