Learning to Evaluate Forest Habitat, Wherever It May Be
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m studying local wildlife with Dr. Nina Huff, Research Instructor at the Piedmont Governor's School for Mathematics, Science &Technology, and some of her students (juniors in high school). We are using digital wildlife cameras to survey animals (mostly mammals and birds) in Martinsville and Henry County, Virginia. We’ll put the cameras in different habitats (e.g., dense forest, open pasture, backyards in the city) to “capture” as many different species as possible.
As part of that project, I developed an activity to show the students how scientists record information about different forest types by measuring attributes such as vegetation on the ground (ground cover) and high branches and leaves (overstory). The weather didn’t cooperate on the day we were supposed to go outside for the activity. However, we made the best of it, and the students evaluated the (imaginary) forests in the hallways of the New College Institute, where the PGSMST classrooms are located. We’ll go outside in the coming weeks so the students can use their newly acquired skills to characterize habitat in real forests.