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Grades 9-12 Lesson Plans

Pika Population Genetics (Grades 9-College)

The goal of this lesson is to answer the question: Are pikas living at low elevations genetically different than those at high elevations? Students investigate this question in two ways, both commonly used by modern population geneticists. First, students investigate general gene flow in these populations by looking at the proportion of individuals that are heterozygous in a population. Second, they will look at single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data to identify DNA regions (loci) that may be undergoing natural selection and will use their creativity to guess possible functions of these genes. Finally, students will develop methods for testing their gene’s function and consider the ability of low elevation pikas to survive in the future.

Pikas and their Environment: Predicting Where They Live (6-12)

In this web-based lesson, students collect general information about the American pika, develop hypotheses and predictions about what limits where pikas live, and then use real scientists’ data to test their hypotheses and graph their results.

The Effect of Snowpack and Connectivity on Pika (Grades 6-12)

This engaging, interactive classroom activity helps students understand how snow pack, climate change and habitat connectivity can impact the American pika.

Pika Body Size and Adaptation (Grades 6-12)

This multi-part lesson focuses on natural selection of body size in pika populations. Part 1 focuses on the importance of body size in animal thermoregulation, using geometry to assess heat loss in different size pikas. Part 2 is an exercise in natural selection, in which students simulate several generations of pikas and how the population’s average body size changes depending on the environment they are in. Part 3 allows students to analyze and graph real pika body size data and interpret their results.

What the Bees Need: Pollinator Nesting Phenology (Grades 6-12)

This lesson brings real native pollinator data into your classroom! Students will improve their graphing and quantitative skills by exploring citizen science-generated data from the University of Colorado’s Bees’ Needs program. The lesson explores the phenology, or timing, of native pollinator nesting behavior and the environmental factors that trigger this behavior. It also incorporates the concepts of variation in populations and natural selection, as well as the effect climate change is having on species-environment relationships.

Insect Pollinator Diversity: Activity Cards and Bee Bingo ( 6-12)

This activity is a fun way for students to explore the amazing diversity of bees and wasps. Students are given incomplete pollinator species cards that they must fill out before moving on to the next activity. Using the ScienceLIVE website students can research their species and complete the needed information regarding it's natural history and ecology. Once completed they will use the species cards in an educational game of "Pollinator Bingo".

Capturing Ecological Patterns with Camera Trapping Data (6-12)

In this open-ended, inquiry-based lesson, students use skills learned in earlier lessons on camera trap data to develop their own question about wildlife that can be answered with data from Colorado's City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP). Students develop a question, hypothesis, and research plan, they then collect appropriate data from the OSMP to answer their question and draw conclusions from their results.

Of Microbes and Men: The Nitrogen Cycle Game (6-12)

Students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle to gain understanding of the varied pathways through the cycle and the relevance of nitrogen to living things.

Pine Tree Anatomy & Pine Beetles (Grades 6-12)

To better understand the process by which beetles kill their host tree and how trees defend themselves against beetle attacks, it is useful to know some basic tree anatomy. The activities in this lesson will familiarize students with the basics of softwood anatomy at the macroscopic and microscopic scales as well the process by which the bark beetle infects a host tree.

Predator-Prey Beetles Game (Grades 6-12)

In this lesson, students play a simulated board game of Clerid Beetle vs Mountain Pine Beetle. This game and graphing activity is a fun way to represent the predator prey model showing how each population responds to the other.

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