The Diack Ecology Education Program
A Program of the Oregon Science Teachers Association
Sample Grant Application
School : Alliance High School @ Meek
Project Name: Student Led Forest Ecology Research
Teacher(s): Joe Ferguson
Phone number: (503) 916-5747
4039 NE Alberta Ct.
Portland OR 97204
Students will engage in forest and riparian ecosystem monitoring at Whitaker Ponds Nature Park Forest in Portland, Oregon. Alliance High School at Meek has partnered with Whitaker Ponds Natural Area and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council to bring relevant place-based inquiry-driven experiential learning to Natural Resources CTE (Career and Technical Education) students. Last year, students used the site for a field-based water chemistry experiment where they compared water quality data at different places in the wetland as well as to historic data collected by past. We also used the site to study riparian plants and did a vegetation restoration project to revitalize a damaged area of the site. On another field trip, students conducted a water quality investigation by learning about and collecting macroinvertebrate specimens and determining if water was polluted or pristine. Students then did a service learning project by removing invasive English Ivy from a section of the forest. Our final trip to the ponds last year was a canoeing trip where students from my bird ecology class were able to paddle out to observe the diversity of birds that call the slough home in the spring and observe their behavior up close.
Moving forward to the 2016-17 academic year, and with the grant items requested here, we will be able to deepen our understanding of forest ecosystem dynamics and students will be able to design their own investigations to learn the kinds of things that they wish to know about in the forest in an authentic, experiential, inquiry-based way.
Students will be in charge of establishing and marking a 100m X 100m forest plot at the study site divided into 25 individual 20m X 20m experimental plots. Students will work with Whitaker Ponds staff to map the study site as well. Students will utilize these 25 plots to conduct their experiments this year, and for years to come. This year students will collect baseline data on a variety of forest metrics including, but not limited to, GPS coordinates, plant biodiversity, canopy coverage, percentage of invasive vs. native flora, signs of wildlife, diversity of bird nests, age of dominant trees, thickness of litter layer, etc. These, and other topics, will be determined by students. They will determine what baseline data they want to collect and will work in small groups to collect data. We will then compile data and look for trends between plots. Students will then come up with their own scientific questions that they will conduct individual and group research projects on. Students might investigate questions such as...
Are more pollinators found at the edge of the forest on in the middle of the forest?
How does plant biodiversity relate to animal biodiversity in the forest?
How do the growth rates of invasive plants compare to the growth rates of native plants in forests?
How does soil respiration compare in areas of high vs. low soil compaction?
How does tree growth rate compare in areas close to water sources vs. away from water sources?
Additionally, students will work with folks from Whitaker Ponds and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council to determine what kinds of data the park might be interested in knowing about and then create questions based on those.
Students will create authentic questions, develop hypotheses, collect data, show results, and make conclusions based on their findings. Students will present their work in the form of a poster or PowerPoint presentation to their class, Whitaker Ponds staff, and the community when and where appropriate.
This project will be ongoing indefinitely and future students will not only be able to use the plots to create their own investigations, but will be able to build off of previous students’ data and findings.
Budget - explain by dollar amount and item:
Forest Quadrant Marking Flags (Bundle of 100) $6.05
Rite in Rain Notebooks for long-term data collection in the field (12 @ $16.45 each)
Forest Measuring Tape (2 @ $21.95))
DBH Measuring Tape 2 @ $44.95
Vernier Labquest 2 (3 X $329)
Vernier Temperature Probe $29
Vernier CO2 Sensor $259
Vernier Soil Moisture sensor $95
Vernier PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) Sensor $199
Vernier pH Sensor $79
Total Cost: $1985.25