Ms. Alaina Brandsma’s and Ms. Melissa Jackson’s Science 9 classes have been working on a month long science project for their biospheres unit.
Students in pairs of two (and at least one group of three in Brandsma’s block B class) are working on an original or a pre-made experiment that involves an environmental problem and how altering an abiotic (nonliving) factor can affect a biotic (living) factor. The experiment must be done using the scientific method with the question, hypothesis, list of materials, detailed procedure, data analysis, and conclusion written in a lab write up.
“I was looking at the learning competencies for this course,” said Brandsma. “And it (the experiment) fits well as a science project. The scientific method meets most of the main outcomes that a class has to learn in a year. It was the perfect project to meet those outcomes.”
This project will also teach students more about our environment and how scientists learn more about our world. “The project was a good fit with what students are supposed to be able to do and the skill sets that are part of this course,” said Brandsma.
According to Brandsma, the hardest part was finding a partner for the project; after the partnership picked their question, the process moved smoothly straightforward into the process.
Grade 9 students Mark Iversen, Isaiah Barnes and Liam Campbell did an experiment where they divided 20 worms into four pots and gave each group of five worms a different diet. They did this to see if the diet caused any changes to the nutrients and pH levels in the soil.
“We ended up getting all of the levels in the soil changed,” said Iversen. “Because we tested the phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and pH levels. We tested all those and for each of the levels that we got, they all changed.”
When the group started their investigation, they left the worms in the soil filled pots for a week and tested the soil level once a week for a period of two and a half weeks. Sadly, during the experiment, one worm escaped and another one died.
Grade 9 students Natalia Dzwinka and Alyssa Emery are testing plants to see if they could stop soil erosion. They filled two bread pans with soil and planted radishes in one pan and left the other pan without any seeds. They are going to let the radishes grow and then leave pans on a tilted surface. They will water the plants in a rainfall-like motion to see if any of the soil erodes.
“We just figured that radishes would grow faster than some other vegetables,” said Dzwinka. “It was really just a random pick.”
The deadline for Brandsma’s inquiry project was on January 20, 2017, while Jackson’s deadline for the inquiry project is January 25, 2017.