2010 Ideas Unlimited Winner
A Jar that Demonstrates Forest Succession
Tara Berescik at Tri-Valley Central School in Grahamsville, New York was looking for a way to teach her students about forest succession, the changing of a forest community over time in a given location, when she developed a lesson using milk jugs. The lesson helps students understand the forest succession concept by seeing it on a miniature scale.
“It is a great lesson to show what could happen in places as global warming impacts water levels and temperatures and new plant species take over as others die,” Berescik said.
For the project, which Berescik calls "Forest in a Jar," students collect soil and other organic materials from the forest next to the school to develop the floor of their forest in a milk jug. Water is added to the jugs to demonstrate flooding of the environment. Students then add aquatic and non-aquatic plants to the milk jug and record the changes that happen over time. Some of these changes include alterations in pH, soil depth, and change in soil quantity. Berescik facilitates class discussions relating the project to current events and the importance and hazards of flood waters. She asks a series of questions before and after the project to help students review the concepts covered.
“I also ask questions for written review such as: ‘What phenomenon will cause the water level to change and how will that impact the plant life in the bottle?’” she explained.
Each of the six regional Ideas Unlimited winners received a stipend to attend the NAAE convention in Las Vegas and was recognized during the convention as having a unique and useful teaching idea. Delmar Cengage Learning sponsors the Ideas Unlimited Award. For more information about the Ideas Unlimited award and other NAAE awards, visit http://www.naae.org/awards/applications/.