Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Schoolyard Habitat Math: It All Adds Up!
Northeast Region, November 4, 2010
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Students with acorns, USFWS
Students with acorns, USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Students sampling acorns, USFWS
Students sampling acorns, USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Floating acorns, USFWS
Floating acorns, USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Measuring tree, USFWS
Measuring tree, USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a
Students with sampling square, USFWS
Students with sampling square, USFWS - Photo Credit: n/a

A terrific acorn (mast) crop can also make a terrific math lesson!  Chesapeake Bay Field Office biologist, Janet Norman, ran 81 budding scientists from Hillsmere Elementary School's 3rd and 5th grades through math and science lessons outdoors on their schoolyard.  The students from this public school in Annapolis, MD, practiced testing hypotheses with data collection in randomized acorn density sampling, acorn viability, and tree diameter calculations.  Ms. Norman planned and led the lesson, with assistance from a Chesapeake Bay Foundation educator, and by modifying materials from the Potomac Conservancy's "Growing Native" program.


The lesson was timed before the school's science fair projects began, so that students could learn how to "do science" with a repeatable process, not steering data, and having fun doing work typical in a forester or biologist's job.  A few Service tricks of the trade such as waterproof paper data sheets, tape measures in tenths of feet, and build-your-own PVC pipe sampling squares kept the hands-on lesson more interesting.


Hillsmere Elementary teachers have been working hard to raise students' math achievement scores.   Chesapeake Bay Field Office staff is happy to help in this effort, while connecting students to nature on their own schoolyard habitat.


For more information contact:

Janet Norman



Contact Info: Kathryn Reshetiloff, 410-573-4582, kathryn_reshetiloff@fws.gov
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