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Biology Field Trip – Stream Study (MS Bio 28, HS Bio 29)

This week both classes met at a local park for another Ranger led class.  Ranger Amy started with a discussion of water sheds, where the water in the stream comes from and where it ends up.  She asked the students what kinds of things should we look at to see if the stream is healthy?  IMG_4184

After walking down to the stream students were divided into two groups and given a clip board with some data sheets to fill out.  First they recorded their location (GPS coordinates) and the date/time.  Students were given thermometers to measure the temperature of the air and the stream.  They also had to look around for possible sources of pollution that could end up in the stream.

IMG_4217We also measured the oxygen level (darker blue means higher oxygen level – healthier stream) in the water and used 9 in 1 water testing strips (which are now sold as 10 in 1) to measure pH, nitrates, nitrites, copper, lead, and more.  Students gathered water samples in small containers, dunked the strips in their samples and compared their results to key.

Lastly, Ranger Amy handed each student a strainer and they spread out around and in the stream to scoop up critters. We recorded the number of each species that was caught, mosquito larvae, water striders, mayfly nymphs, snails, etc.  Here are some photos of our finds.

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Biology Field Trip – Wildflowers (MS Bio 23, HS Bio 24)

Both my classes went on a wildflower hike with a local ranger today.  We started at a Native Garden and students were given a list of 10 native plants to locate in the garden and then pick one to sketch.  We then walked 2 miles into the park looking for the plants we had seen at the Native Garden.  Ranger Amy gave us additional information on the plants and history of the park as we walked.  She also discussed native versus non-native plants, including Eucalyptus trees, which can be found throughout the park and our town. We also saw a coyote, a couple of deer, turtles and tracks in the mud from a skunk. Here are some photos from our adventure.

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I highly recommend contacting your local parks department and making connections with the rangers. They enjoy having the kids to the park and the cost for a ranger-led program is very reasonable. High School students were asked to read the chapters in their textbooks on Plant Diversity this week and watch


SF Physics 17 – Field trip!

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This week both my physics classes went to the Tech Museum in San Jose for a class on roller coasters and to check out the Body Worlds Decoded exhibit.  The class started with a short lecture on roller coasters with a lot of class participation and then students had 10 minutes to build a short roller coaster.  After some more discussion on roller coasters and energy the students were asked to build roller coasters with a loop!  If they succeeded  with time to spare they were given a challenge card (2 loops for example).  As you can see in the photos, this was done with pretty inexpensive equipment,  foam hose insulation cut in half for tracks and whatever building toys (tinker toys in this case) you might have, masking tape and a marble.  Classes like these at museums are great, I’ve never been disappointed.  The Tech Museum field trips are a great deal, only $5 per kid and chaperones were free, we got the 90 minute class, free IMAX film and got to wander around the museum afterwards.

The Body Worlds exhibit was pretty cool as well, may have to go back next year when we’re doing biology since I believe its going to become a permanent exhibit.

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