Sometimes, nature is the best classroom. What young scientist wouldn’t leap at the chance to get practical, hands-on experience in the natural world?
Sixteen Colchester High School students in Mr. Warren’s AP Biology class took their learning outdoors at Colchester Pond Natural Area on October 12. (If you haven’t explored Colchester Pond Natural Area—which is part of Winooski Valley Park District—you might find it well worth a visit. Aside from being a great town resource for low-impact recreation, it provides, as Mr. Warren describes it, “a glimpse into Vermont’s recent ecological past.” Did you know, for example, that approximately 80 percent of Vermont’s land was cleared of trees 150 years ago?)
The biology students measured out survey plots, inventorying all of the woody species exceeding a diameter of 2.5 centimeters within the plots and collecting data about the size and types of the trees. They also identified them using a dichotomous key. With the help of Google Docs (an open-source, Web-based office suite), they will use this data to quantify the observable differences between the two survey sites, calculating such values as species dominance and species density and creating graphics supporting their findings.
For more information, please e-mail Mr. Warren or call (802) 264-5700.
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