Quantifying Terrestrial and Marine Species Biodiversity in Pelham Bay Park

My school is starting an Advanced Placement (AP) program next year, and I have been asked to create/teach the first AP Environmental Science (APES) course. I would like to create a trip so that my APES students can explore biodiversity and accumulate lab and field work hours. The guiding questions will include: How many species exist on our planet? How do scientists make estimates on the biodiversity of a given area? Are some methods better than others?

General Goals for this trip:
Students will observe firsthand marine and terrestrial biodiversity.
Students will engage in multiple techniques used to estimate biodiversity (transections, “catch and release,” quadrant gridding, etc.)
Students will apply mathematical models to estimate populations within an area based on data they themselves obtain.

Pelham Bay Park is, by far, the largest public park in New York City and is easily accessible by public transportation (it is the last stop on the 6 train). The park has over 2,700 acres of natural space, including the 115-acre Orchard Beach (the only public beach in the Bronx) and the famous Thomas Pell Animal Sanctuary, home to species such as raccoons, egrets, hawks, and coyotes.

external image application.pdfexternal image application.pdf

What I envision my project looking like:
Entrance activity with critical WebQuest of various articles and video on estimating biodiversity.
Two complete 4-hour lab activities to take place in Pelham Bay Park that will require common household items and that will focus on methods of estimating biodiversity
Exit activity involving gathering all data from the two lab activities into a class GoogleMap of the area, and team presentations on tri-fold boards of field data and conclusions.

APES Standards that will be addressed:
Students will be performing hands-on scientific inquiry and experimental design.
Students will be analyzing the abiotic factors of waves, light and heat on ecosystems through interactions of energy and matter.
Students will be directly investigating the interdependence of organisms, the organization in living systems and the behavior of organisms.
Students will properly analyze the abundance and distribution of living organisms in the target ecosystem, students have to understand energy transfer in the earth system and geochemical cycles.
In using a variety of sampling equipment and statistical analyses, students will need to understand the abilities of particular technological designs.Students will be documenting population growth and environmental quality in the target ecosystem, as well as observing human impacts on the environment.

UPDATES - My PowerPoint presentation and all of my resources are posted below, including the kickoff WebQuest, student and teacher versions of the two lab activities (with material lists), Exit Project description and evaluative rubric, and permission slip.