Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vernal Pool 2014

New Nature TV host in the Making? 

Check out Schoolyard teacher, Tara Fernandez-Davila's vernal pool video and you tell us whether she is TV host material!

Link to Tara's VP Youtube Video

For more details on the Schoolyard Ecology Vernal Pool Study led by Project Ecologist, Betsy Colburn, go to: 

For more teacher created resources related to all Harvard Forest Schoolyard projects go to:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Schoolyard Year in Review-2013-2014

School-Year in Review; Schoolyard Ecology

August 2013-June 2014

Anatomy of a Schoolyard Project;

 Introducing Our Changing Forests

It takes a dedicated and diverse team of staff from Harvard Forest/Highstead,secondary  teachers and students from a variety of  locations, and generous  funders, to make the Our Changing Forests project succeed.

Our Changing Forests Year in Review:

After a bunch of behind the  scenes meetings and development of project protocol, data sheets, online database, online graphing tools during the winter and spring of 2013.....

Six High School teachers arrived at Harvard Forest in August to pilot the new project.

Summer Institute For Teachers:  Introducing Our Changing Forests August 2013

After learning the ropes from Ecologist, Edward Faison and Director, David Foster, teachers set up 10 x 10 meter plots in their schoolyards.  Project coach, Jennifer Albertine supported some of these teachers on site.  Teachers and/or students measured and labelled the boundaries of the plot, installed corner markers, identified and labelled trees in their plots.

During the fall, High School students from all six schools completed detailed Field Description Sheets.pdf and collected data on the diameter at breast height and species of each tree in the plot.
They then submitted their data to our online database
 to share on the Harvard Forest website.  

Teachers returned to Harvard Forest in November, 2013 to learn more about data management and graphing project data. 
Dr. Emery Boose led introducing  data management to teachers

Harvard Forest staff led a detailed discussion with teachers about what worked well and what was challenging about the field work for this project. 
Emery Boose providing support to teachers practicing data submission and graphing 

 See  teacher survey for more input from teachers.

As you can see from these graphs, there is a lot that can be told about each forest plot, each year.

While our long term goal is to track how the forest changes over time, we can also learn about what the species composition is like today. We can learn how large the diameters of trees are now, and calculate an estimate of the amount of carbon that tree is storing. From the field site description sheets, students can tell what is the status of invasive species  or forest pests, wildlife, evidence of past human land use,etc..  From all of this, they can learn a lot about what may have  happened to this forest in the  past, and certainly the state of the forest now.  As years go by, more can be told about the kinds of changes that take place in each plot.  One of our most ambitious teachers has already set up 3 plots this year! Her students can begin to do cross-site studies first hand. Other students can look at our online database to compare their sites with diverse sites across the state.

Spring Teacher Presentations:  

Melanie McCracken from Groton Dunstable High School presented her experience trying out the Our Changing Forests project  to an audience of scientists at The Harvard Forest Symposium in March of 2014. See her presentation  Symposium presentation Snow-McCracken-3-14.pdf

Nicholas Kostich from Oakmont High School in Ashburnham, presented his experience with the project to an audience of  teachers at the Spring Workshop for Teachers at Harvard Forest in April of 2014. See his presentation and related teaching resource here: Kostich Spring Presentation.pdf and Schoolyard Field Guide Sample.pdf
After the Changing Forests teachers take a much needed break for the summer, we hope that they will set up a second plot in each of their schoolyards this fall.  Their students will collect data on this  second plot this year, and can add as many plots each year as the teacher wants to monitor.  Eventually, classes will return to the original plot to re-measure and assess changes in their forested much growth did the trees accumulate? did species composition change?  How did invasive  species impact the plot? etc... So 10 years from now, classes may have returned to multiple plots  2 or more  times to monitor change.  

How can you support us in getting more students actively involved in ecology projects outside their schools?

1. Help us Spread the Word! We are looking for a new group of teachers to begin the "Our Changing Forests" project, as well as our "Woolly Bully and the Hemlock Trees" and "Buds, Leaves, and Global Warming" projects soon.  Teachers can register now to attend the introductory session on August 21st at Harvard Forest.   Learn more and download Registration Form

2.  Help us meet our 10 -year anniversary fundraising goal: please share our short video and giving webpage. short video and giving webpage

Support Schoolyard Ecology!