Magazine article MultiMedia Schools

Probing Questions

Magazine article MultiMedia Schools

Probing Questions

Article excerpt

On a brisk, overcast day a busload of budding scientists from Old Orchard Elementary and Monroe Middle schools in Columbus, Ohio, embarked on a field trip to Spruce Run Environmental Education Center. Spruce Run is located on 50 acres of land donated to Columbus Public Schools by Robert and Dorothy Patton in 1974. It is well suited for outdoor education, with a variety of geologic features including a succession plot, woodland, meadow, shale creek bed, flood plain, and ridge. A portable classroom equipped with electricity and running water serves as a shelter and area for indoor activities.

As the students emerged from the bus, the air was filled with excitement and anticipation. This was no ordinary field trip. These urban scientists were going to collect data with science probes that would help them find the answers to questions posed about the differences in the ecosystems of a stream, forest, and meadow. Which type of soil supports more plant life? Why do you think the habitats have different pH levels in the soil? Are there different temperature readings among the ecosystems? After being divided into groups, students were given worksheets (see "Soil Sample Worksheet" at right) and rotated through stations where they learned about the characteristics of ecosystems, soil pH, difference between air and ground temperatures, and how to use probes. Laptop computers were set up in the shelter house to manipulate the information. Prior to this scientific expedition, students were prepped with background information on habitats, pH, making predictions, and soil composition. Web sites provided valuable background information and contributed to the prior knowledge necessary for scientific inquiry.


Biomes of the World

Basic concepts about biomes and ecosystems around the world are presented along with photographs and illustrations. You can find facts and definitions about deserts, forests, grasslands, streams, wetlands, and oceans. The site is easy to navigate and suitable for elementary and middle school students.

Fantastic Forest

Take a virtual walk through the forest, complete with sights, sounds, and panoramic views. Find hidden creatures and features and learn about plants and animals in the woods. Build your own forest by selecting from objects and placing them in the picture. This activity produced by National Geographic will be a big hit with elementary students.

Forest Conservation Portal

Links and news to hundreds of sites can be found by visiting this portal. The mission of the organization is to help end deforestation, preserve old-growth forests, and foster ecological restoration. The site is updated frequently with new articles and conservation alerts.

Water Quality Program: Streams

Why is the temperature of a stream important? How does pollution affect the pH in water? These and other questions are answered. Nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and suspended solids and turbidity are also presented.



Need a multimedia explanation of the pH scale with lab activities? Drop by Brainpop and view a movie clip on the pH scale that defines acids and bases and gives a technical explanation of hydrogen's role. This highly interactive site is a barrel of fim. Content is based on the needs of its users and the National Science Education Standards. At present, has over 80 original animated movies covering health, science, and technology topics. Th play more than three movies per day, you need to purchase a subscription. More information about school pricing can be found on the site.

pH Factor

What do cabbage water and litmus paper have in common? Paper strips dipped in cabbage water and dried can be can be used as an indicator of pH. Predict the pH of substances, and then click on the item to see where it falls on the pH scale. In addition to activities and lessons, there is a clear explanation of water and pH. …

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