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Introducing Geography and Technology into Science Via Biodiversity

Joseph Kerski

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Abstract:

Incorporating geographic concepts into biology was accomplished through a biodiversity investigation project in Colorado. The project brought together scientists and educators from the US Geological Survey, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, the University of Colorado, the University of Northern Colorado, and K-12 schools across Colorado's Front Range. Participants in the project created lessons, new maps, and new digital spatial data, which were used to conduct training sessions over a two year period for hundreds of teachers statewide. The project provides a model of collaboration across multiple organizations to improve inquiry-based, hands-on, interdisciplinary teaching and learning about the interaction among urban growth, climate, vegetation, transportation, rivers, wetlands, landforms, watersheds, and biodiversity of plants and animals.


Introduction

Through a grant from the National Geographic Society, geography and technology has been effectively spread into science curricula through a project entitled "Exploring Biodiversity Along the Front Range of Colorado."

This project was innovative in four areas. First, it brought together federal, state, university, and K-12 researchers and educators to produce educational lessons based on biodiversity. Second, it brought concepts of biodiversity conservation to Colorado high school students, while simultaneously satisfying important state geography standards and providing a model for similar instructional activities in other regions. Third, it incorporated GIS technology and methods into some of the lessons, and resulted in the production of new spatial data and a new series of maps. Fourth, teachers and students began to use geographic concepts in their biology and other science courses.

Biodiversity is the variation among life and its processes at all levels from genes and individual organisms, through species and ecosystems, to landscapes, regions, and continents. Global species biodiversity is now being lost at a rate similar to that of the mass extinction of the geological past, even though the goods and services that flow from biodiversity in the USA alone are worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Because many concepts pertinent to biodiversity conservation have spatial aspects, geography proved to be an excellent means of introducing students to biodiversity.

A group of a dozen teachers created the lessons. In a series of three workshops, they trained other teachers to incorporate the lessons into the curricula throughout the state.

The US Geological Survey, the University of Northern Colorado, the University of Colorado, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and dozens of school districts partnered to make this project a success.


US Geological Survey

University of Northern Colorado

University of Colorado

Colorado Natural Heritage Program

Colorado Division of Wildlife

Images provided by the author.

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Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal
a service of NC State University, Raleigh, NC
Volume 5, Issue 1, Winter 2002
ISSN 1097 9778
URL: http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/win2002/515/
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