Draft#1 - Alignment to meet 10th grade proficiency

Amy and Jennifer at the Skywalk in Monteverde. See other pictures from Costa Rica.

This discussion topic submitted by Loren Savage ( lsfalcons@yahoo.com) at 10:29 AM on 3/31/02. Additions were last made on Monday, April 29, 2002.


High School Neotropical Biology, Alignment To Meet the Tenth Grade Science Proficiency Objectives for the State of Ohio.
The following paper will demonstrate that a curriculum for Neotropical Biology meets many the objectives of the tenth grade science proficiency (this paper will justify the addition of a Neotropical Biology class at the high school level). I will present the curriculum that overlaps Ohio Science Proficiency Standards with Neotropical Biology. Objectives and curriculum will be presented and organized as well as a general justification of methodologies.
The state of Ohio is moving towards an inquiry based curriculum with a focus on active learning (Texley, 1996). Research and active learning in a Neotropical setting not only presents an incredible learning ground, but the subject matter easily overlaps with the new state of Ohio Science Proficiency Standards. From a personal perspective, I learned that a hands on tropical ecology class provided a rewarding experience in which science was processed rather than memorized, experienced instead of only read about, and information was learned and retained rather than forgotten. An appreciation for biodiversity was also created.
As a Biology teacher, I must take the time to prepare my students for the science portion of their graduation test. Several students each year at the high school in which I teach do not receive their high school graduation diploma because they have not met the minimum qualifying score. Focussing on State of Ohio objectives as well as other activities are incorporated school wide to increase student achievement on all proficiency scores. Increased proficiency achievement is also a focus of the school district in which I teach. I believe that a Neotropical Biology class can improve my student's science proficiency scores.
Howard Gardner would support a class that allows students to travel and experience "Biology". Dr. Gardner is a leading authority on educational reform. He believes that education is failing our youth because most class work and subject matter is not interesting, entertaining, important, or even processed by most students (Drake University, 1999).
A course developed around a potential life changing experience in which students perform hands-on activities and conduct scientific investigations that they design and implement on subject matter that they chose is an experience that would be supported by Dr. Gardner. The experiences in the Neotropical setting are truly novel and unique
The following objectives in bold is a list of many of the State of Ohio objectives, obtained from the Ohio Department of Education Assessment center. I have presented possible Neotropical biology curriculum that would overlap with these State of Ohio objectives.
Objective #1: Evaluate or design scientific investigations to formulate and/or revise scientific explanations and models.
According to John Kricher, "Researchers have a good start (regarding understanding the rain forest) but much research must be conducted to help conservation efforts (Kricher, 1997)." High school students could design and conduct experiments in Neotopical Biology which are designed initially in the classroom setting but performed on a visit to a Neotropical community. Animal behavior studies such as ethograms could also be valuable learning experiences.
Objective #2: Evaluate information derived from popular technical sources to determine it's scientific validity in making evidence-based decisions.
Currently, there is much debate over the rate of deforestation in the rain forest. One possible activity in which students could engage this objective is to compare and contrast the current models of deforestation and to create there own wild life management systems as well as their own predictions on deforestation. Factors such as agricultural growth, resettlements of indigoes peoples, pollution, and timber harvesting, are only some of the variables that would have to be considered (Kricher, 1997).
Objective #3: Given a personal, societal or global circumstance, identify, interpret, and/or apply safety precautions and equipment.
Safety when visiting the Neotropics is a serious issue. So much so that an appendix was created in the book A Neotropical Companion. When the students on safety is the motivation for learning, many concepts could be easily taught. Internal parasites like tapeworms, flatworms and tapeworms, diseases associated with internal parasites like amebic dysentery, sleeping sickness, malaria, and chagas disease would all have to be taught. Other threats like snakes and biting and stinging insects would have to be presented along with microbiological concepts such as food precautions (Kricher, 1997).
Objective #4: Given a particular scientific theory or protocol, explain how and/or why the theory or protocol may have changed over time.
The usefulness of the tropical rain forest from past to current trends is a fascinating topic. Agriculture, medicinal, and biodiversity debates still rage on in our current culture. In the article Medicinal Treasures of the Rain Forest, Many facts are presented dealing with the importance of the rain forest. Students could be asked to compare and contrast past practices with current practices regarding rain forest preservation, based on the information available dealing with the importance of the rain forest.
Objective #5: Relate uses, properties, and chemical processes (reactions) of matte to the behavior and /or arrangement of small particles, which compose matter.
After completion of a basic chemistry unit, the interactions of chemicals in plants and animals in the Neotropical system could be studied. The chemical structure and function of alkaloids, saponins, cyanogenic glycosides, cardiac glycosides, terpenoids, toxic amino acids, and calcium oxinates, could be studied with a biological and chemical function infuses (Kricher, 1997).
Objective #9: Relate internal and external sources of energy in the earth system to processes and cycles (air, water, or land) occurring since earth origin.
The effects of deforestation and how it effects rain fall, weather, and the carbon cycle is well documented. The effects of plate tectonics on climate and biodiversity could also be integrated (Kricher, 1997).
Objective #10: Describe relations among the Earth, other planets, and other objectives in the solar system.
The Neotropical climate is dependent on the Earth's tilt and its position in the solar system (Feldcamp, 2002). As a teacher I have found that this science objective is not met with most students that I have taught. An understanding of the driving forces regarding Neotropical climate would eliminate my student's misconceptions.
Objective #11: Relate changes in the form or distribution of matter to the cyclic and finite nature of resources within a closed earth system
Colleen Yows, a Middle School teacher at Taft, has already created hands on science lessons for her middle school classroom regarding this objective. She uses multiple methodologies including research, readings, and labs (Yows, 2001). Topics should include renewable and nonrenewable resources, succession, farming, and soil types.
Objective #12: Analyze and compare regulatory processes (neural, endocrine, immune) in living things.
With the tremendous diversity in the rainforest, selective organisms could be selected for closer studies. A basic understanding of anatomy will help the students process many of the systems that are used by life in the Neotropics. Many vertebrates and invertebrates that are very commonly presented in Biology texts could be studied (Feldkamp, 2002).
Objective #13: Relate the chemical basis of life to heredity, diversity, species survival, adaptations, and extinction's.
In my current Advanced Biology class in which I teach, I teach units involving DNA technology and taxonomy, survival strategies, extinction issues, adaptations for survival, and basic mendilin genetics. Being able to see the practical application to these subjects would help retention as well as depth of understanding.
Objective #14: Relate heredity of organisms to the long-term survival of populations based on mutations, variations in populations and changes in populations as a result of differential reproductions.
Tremendous examples of natural selection and speciation exist in the Neotropics. Reproductive and survival strategies are diverse and many are so unique they would surely interest my students (Kricher, 1997). The uplifting of the Neotropics may be one of the most important isolation events in current geological history (Feldcamp, 2002)
Objective #15: Explain how living things interact with living and non-living components of the environment.
"Covering only six percent of the worlds surface tropical forest contain at least half of all species ( Rainforest Action Network, 2001)." Students visiting this ecosystem, what a tremendous opportunity to engage students in one of the most unique diverse systems on the planet. The interactions are so numerous a teacher could spend years teaching this objective alone and not possibly address all these interactions. Currently only one percent of the living things have been researched (Rainforest Action Network, 2001).
Teachers are being asked to create lessons that students care about. The challenge is to get the students active in their learning because the current traditional lectures and labs are simply not creating as many scientifically literate students as the state of Ohio would like. A Neotropical Biology class in which the students would be able to travel to experience and scientifically explore this unique system can effectively meet the Science Proficiency objectives currently being developed for the State of Ohio. The curriculum overlaps and the opportunities for effective engaging activities are tremendous.

Works Cited

“An informational Guide for the Ohio High School Graduation Qualifying Examination.”
Ohio: Ohio Department of Education Assessment center, 20000.
Drake University, "Teaching in an Hyperactive Society." 1999.
Feldamp, Susan. "Modern Biology." Holt, Rinehart and Winston: Austin, 2002.
Kricher, John. “A Neotropical Companion.” New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1997.
Rainforest Action Network, “Medicinal Treasures of the Rainforest Fact Sheet.” 1Dec. 2001. 24 Dec. 2001. http://www.ran.org/info_center/factsheets/05f.html.
Texley, Jullian, and Ann Wild. “NSTA Pathways to the Science Standerds: Guidelines for Moving the Vision into Practice.” Virginia: National Science Teachers Association, 1996.
Yows, Colleen. “Hands on Science teaching Rain Forest Ecosystems.” 24 Dec. 2001. http:/labd.unm.edu/retanet/plans/retrieve.php3?ID%5BO%5d=434.





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