Engaging Ecosystems

Summary

Students will understand the diverse ecosystems found at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Students will work in teams to construct a three-dimensional model of an ecosystem.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America the Beautiful Quarters

Objectives

Students will work in teams to construct a three-dimensional model of an ecosystem that includes geographic features, water features, plants, and animals.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
  • Science

Grades

  • 4th
  • 5th
  • 6th

Class Time

  • Sessions: Four
  • Session Length: 45-60 minutes
  • Total Length: 151-500 minutes

    Groupings

    • Whole group
    • Small groups
    • Pairs
    • Individual work

    Background Knowledge

    Students should have basic knowledge of ecology and/or biology/environmental science. Students should have basic geographic knowledge of the Great Lakes.

    Terms and Concepts

    • Quarter
    • Reverse (back)
    • Obverse (front)
    • Ecosystem

    Materials

    • 1 overhead transparency (or equivalent) of the following:
    • Copies of the following:
      • "Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Quarter" page
      • "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Forest Ecosystem" worksheet
      • "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Our Ecosystem" worksheet
      • "Engaging Ecosystems: Model Planning" worksheet
      • "Engaging Ecosystems Rubric"
    • Class map of the United States
    • Websites that give information about the different ecosystems at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore including: https://www.nps.gov/piro/learn/nature/naturalfeaturesandecosystems.htm
      • Locate additional age-appropriate web or text informational resources on these ecosystems
    • Computers or tablet devices with internet access
    • Chart paper
    • Materials to create three-dimensional models, such as:
      • Shoe or cereal boxes
      • Poster board
      • Paper
      • Modeling clay
      • Sand
      • Tissue paper
      • Pipe cleaners
      • Plastic wrap
      • Felt
      • Fabric scraps
      • Markers
      • Crayons
      • Glue
      • Scissors

    Preparations

    • Make an overhead transparency or equivalent of each of the following:
      • "Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Quarter" page
      • "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Forest Ecosystem" worksheet
      • "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Our Ecosystem" worksheet
      • "Engaging Ecosystems: Model Planning" worksheet
      • "Engaging Ecosystems Rubric"
    • Make copies of each of the following:
      • "Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Quarter" page (one per student)
      • "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Forest Ecosystem" worksheet (one per student)
      • "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Our Ecosystem" worksheet (one per student)
      • "Engaging Ecosystems: Model Planning" worksheet (one per student)
      • "Engaging Ecosystems Rubric" (one per student)
    • Reserve computer lab (if necessary)
    • Bookmark websites that give information about the different ecosystems at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore including: https://www.nps.gov/piro/learn/nature/naturalfeaturesandecosystems.htm
    • Gather materials to create three-dimensional models (see examples under "Materials")

    Worksheets

    Lesson Steps

    Session 1

    1. Display and examine the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Quarter obverse and reverse. Tell the students that the front of a coin is called the "obverse" and the back is called the "reverse." Explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 designs. Each design will focus on a different national site—one from each state, territory and the District of Columbia. Locate Michigan on a classroom map. Note its position in relation to your school's location.
    2. With the students, examine the quarter design. The coin design depicts Chapel Rock and the white pine tree that grows atop. Explain to the students that Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a narrow strip of a park that hugs Lake Superior coast for more than 40 miles. The shoreline consists of 200-foot-high colorful sandstone cliffs, numerous beaches, and 300-foot-tall sand dunes. The shoreline is bordered by forests with numerous waterfalls, streams, and lakes. There is abundant wildlife, including black bears, deer, and porcupine, with bald eagles and peregrine falcons dotting the skies.
    3. Explain that the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore contains many different natural features and ecosystems. As a class, define "ecosystem." Record the definition on chart paper.
    4. Explain that each ecosystem has characteristics that make it different from the other ecosystems. Using information from the nps.gov website, list the following ecosystems on chart paper, with one piece of chart paper for each ecosystem:
      • Forests
      • Lakes and ponds
      • Lake Superior
      • Rivers and Streams
      • Sand Dunes
      • Wetlands, Marshes, and Swamps
    5. Ask the students to define each ecosystem and provide help when needed. Ask students about some of the characteristics of each ecosystem and what kinds of plants or animals might live in each one. Record their answers on chart paper.
    6. Display the transparency of the "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Forest Ecosystem" worksheet. As a class, go over the first geographic feature, water feature, plant, and animal listed on the worksheet. Attend to any unfamiliar vocabulary, such as defining "vernal pools." Vernal pools are temporary pools created when a tree is uprooted and water fills the spot where the tree trunk used to be.
    7. Distribute a "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Forest Ecosystem" worksheet to each student. Explain to the students that they will be working in pairs to fill in the rest of the information for the forest ecosystem. Have the students fill in the rest of the information based on their research.
    8. Take the students to the computer lab and allow them time to research.
    9. Collect the "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Forest Ecosystem" worksheets at the end of the session.

    Session 2

    1. Redistribute the "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Forest Ecosystem" worksheet from the previous session to each student. Display the transparency of the "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Forest Ecosystem" worksheet. As a class, go over the worksheet and record students' answers from the worksheet onto the transparency.
    2. Explain to the students that they will be researching the other ecosystems at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Remind the class of the other ecosystems:
      • Lakes and ponds
      • Lake Superior
      • Rivers and Streams
      • Sand Dunes
      • Wetlands, Marshes, and Swamps
    3. Divide the class into five groups and assign each group one of the ecosystems. Tell students they will research their ecosystem in groups and fill in the "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Our Ecosystem" worksheet for their ecosystem.
    4. Take the students to the computer lab and allow them time to research with their group and fill out the worksheet.
    5. Collect the "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Our Ecosystems" worksheets.

    Sessions 3-4

    1. Redistribute the "Pictured Rocks Ecosystems: Our Ecosystem" worksheets from the previous session. Explain to the students that they will be working in their groups to create a three-dimensional model of their ecosystem from their research. Review the definition of three-dimensional as being an object that has height, width and depth
    2. Explain that the model should include labeled examples of their ecosystem's geological features, water features, plants, and animals.
    3. Display the transparency of the "Engaging Ecosystems: Model Planning Worksheet." Review the directions together, including the checklist of required features. Show the students where they can locate materials that are available for this project.
    4. Allow time for the groups to plan and create their model. This may take more than one class session.
    5. Ask the groups to present their models to the class, noting how they created it and what features they selected to represent their ecosystem.
    6. Lead a class discussion about the model-making process. Ask the students to reflect on how they represented their ecosystem through the model and how they worked together as a team and made collaborative decisions about the design of their model.
    7. Distribute the "Engaging Ecosystems Rubric" and have the students individually complete the rubric based on their models and presentations.
    8. Collect the rubrics.

    Differentiated Learning Options

    • Allow students to work with a partner or scribe.
    • Allow students extended time to complete work.
    • Allow students to complete their work using a computer or tablet device.

    Enrichments/Extensions

    • Have students display their models in a common space within the school and invite parents and other classes to learn about the park by examining the models.
    • Have students research other parks, particularly those in your area, that also feature diverse ecosystems.
    • Have students create a multimedia presentation about their ecosystem.
    • Collaborate with other departments to create models using STEM concepts and topics, such as models of simple machines or different elements of the periodic table.

    Assess

    • Take anecdotal notes about students' participation in class discussion and group activities.
    • Use the "Engaging Ecosystems Rubric" to evaluate the three-dimensional model and group work.

    Common Core Standards

    Discipline: Language Arts
    Domain: RI.4 Reading: Informational Text
    Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    Grade(s): Grade 4 
    Standards:

    • RI.4.7 Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
    • RI.4.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.
    • RI.4.9 Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    Discipline: Language Arts
    Domain: RI.5 Reading: Informational Text
    Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    Grade(s): Grade 5 
    Standards:

    • RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.
    • RI.5.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
    • RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    Discipline: Language Arts
    Domain: RI.6 Reading: Informational Text
    Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    Grade(s): Grade 6 
    Standards:

    • RI.6.7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
    • RI.6.8 Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
    • RI.6.9 Compare and contrast one author's presentation of events with that of another (e.g., a memoir written by and a biography on the same person).

    Discipline: Language Arts
    Domain: RST.6-8 Science & Technical Subjects
    Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    Grade(s): Grade 6
    Standards:

    • RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
    • RST.6-8.8 Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.
    • RST.6-8.9 Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.

    National Standards

    Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
    Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
    Cluster: Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
    Grade(s): Grades K–4 
    Standards:

    • Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes
    • Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses
    • Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories
    • Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner

    Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
    Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
    Cluster: Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
    Grade(s): Grades K–4 
    Standards:

    • Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art
    • Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning

    Discipline: Visual Arts and Music
    Domain: K-4 Visual Arts
    Cluster: Standard 5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
    Grade(s): Grades K–4 
    Standards:

    • Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art
    • Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks
    • Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks