The “Ponds in Peril!” Program and K-12 Education

I have been involved in the NSF GK-12 Program where I had the opportunity to teach science at a local elementary school. A science curriculum developed by my colleague Phil Taylor and I emerged from that experience. The curriculum utilizes a long-term classroom experiment to teach students about ecology and global change (see Preston et al. 2015 Science Scope for details). During the experiment, students construct small-scale pond ecosystems within one-liter glass jars. The experiment utilizes four different treatments to allow students to assess the individual and combined impacts of nutrient pollution and nonnative snails on aquatic ecosystems. Students track the development of their ecosystems by collecting data on multiple response variables (e.g., food web structure, algal growth, concentrations of nutrients and oxygen).

The “Ponds in Peril!” curriculum is particularly effective because it is highly amenable to the incorporation of teaching modules that encompass science standards at the elementary, middle and high school levels (e.g., the scientific method, food webs, adaptation, collecting and analyzing data, thinking critically and others). Alongside collaborators including the SMILE Program at Oregon State University, we have implemented the curriculum in several K-12 classes and after-school science clubs in Colorado and Oregon. If you have an interest in working with the “Ponds in Peril!” curriculum as an educator please get in touch.