This simple experiment will provide students an opportunity to observe changes in a small environment.
Slight changes in an environment can bring about large changes to a living organism. Organisms that live in the soil like the environment to be cool, dark and moist. Using a Berlese (pronounced "bur LAY zee") funnel, we can add heat and light to the topsoil, thus drying out the sample and forcing the organisms to escape this change. Students do understand that with a change of seasons, their own environment is affected. How can this same principle be applied to other living organisms? This simple experiment will provide an observable change in a small environment.
1. Use science process and thinking skills
2. Manifest Scientific Attitudes and Interests
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles
Invitation to Learn
The instructor should invite students to observe. The instructor will wet down individual paper towels to the point of being wet but not dripping. Once done, place one paper towel on a cookie sheet out flat, a second paper towel, roll-up a second lengthwise and paper clip to keep it rolled and place it on cookie sheet. Place the last paper towel between two sheets of wax paper, roll lengthwise and paper clip each end to keep rolled. Ask students to make a journal entry prediction. How will the passing of time affect each towel? Entries could be based in 30 minute, one hour, and 24 hour increments for each towel. When time has lapsed, ask: "What has happened to the moisture in each paper towel over time? Can this same change be applied to a living organism? What might happen if these samples were outside?"
Construct a Berlese funnel to be used in the classroom. The purpose of the funnel is to make available a small environment that can be heated and allow the students to observe what effect the heat has on organisms living in the soil, if any.
Curriculum Extensions/Adaptations/ Integration
Shaw, E.L. Jar, Baggett, P.V., Daughenbaugh, L.R., Daughenbaugh R.L., & Santoli, S. (2005) from boxed lunch to learning boxes: an interdisciplinary approach. Science Activities, (Fall), pp. 16-25.
Newton, L.D. (June 2002). Questions that help children understand Elementary Science. Investigating, Volume 18.2, pp. 6-9
Science can be a method for enabling students to interpret the world around them. Students should ask questions, make predictions, test and retest, make observations, construct events, and then attempt to communicate this information to another person or write it down. This article refers to patterns that are observable. Students will make journal entries about changes, over time, and how those changes have an effect on a living thing in an environment.