Ecology

Citizen Science for Your Classroom: The Great Sunflower Project

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Immerse students in how they can make a difference in the pollinator crisis by practicing real world science with the Great Sunflower Project. A combination of disease, habitat loss, chemical misuse, and climate change is causing a decline in pollinators – like birds, bats, butterflies, and bees. Discover how scientists are working with volunteers across the country to identify where pollinators are doing well, and where they are not, in this video produced for American Spring LIVE.

Support materials from the Great Sunflower Project are available, including lesson plans and other materials developed in collaboration with teachers from Peralta Elementary, a small, diverse, K-5 arts demonstration school within the Oakland Unified School District. Peralta has been partnering with the Great Sunflower Project's citizen science program since 2011 to study and understand native bees. In the accompanying classroom activity, students use their observation skills to look for pollinators.

For students who are new to citizen science, see introductory activities for Grades K-5 or 6-12, included with this resource.

Otter Power! | Wild Kratts

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The Kratt brothers learn about adapting to their environment. They have a close call with a gar fish while they teach Slider the otter how to hunt. The brothers come to the creature rescue.

Salmon | Science Trek

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This video segment from IdahoPTV's Science Trek follows the life cycle of Idaho's salmon from a mountain stream to the ocean and back. These anadromous fish face some obstacles in completing this cycle. Find out how dams affect their progress.

Watershed | Episode 4: Balancing Act

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Water in the American West is a scarce resource allocated for multiple uses from urban drinking water to agriculture to habitats for endangered species. Journey east from high above the North Platte River across the region of Wyoming once called the Great American Desert, and see how the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation captures and releases water to irrigate millions of acres of farmland throughout one watershed.

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River Rewilding: Hester-Dendy Installation

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In this video, a high school teacher and her students construct and install a Hester-Dendy sampler to collect macroinvertebrates, which are an indicator of water quality.

What Do Bumblebees Do All Day? | Science-U

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Penn State entomologists visited Science-U Nature Camp and took the campers to the Penn State Arboretum to observe bumble bees in action. Campers learned how to be safe when watching bees fly about the flowers. Using the campers’ tips as a guide, you can safely observe bees at home and learn what bumblebees do all day! Try it yourself with our step-by-step instructions and guided scientific questions available in the downloadable support materials, or on the Science-U.org website.

Bison Roadblock | Wild Kratts

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The Wild Kratts crew embarks on a race to determine which prairie animal can run the fastest. When Martin and Aviva activate their fast-running prairie creature powers in a race to the finish line, they stumble upon a herd of angry bison blocking their path!

Ash Meadows | Outdoor Nevada

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In this episode host John Burke discovers life in extreme environments at Ash Meadows.

Watershed | Episode 5: Lifeblood

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Meet the ditch riders of western Nebraska. They have the little known, but vitally important job of monitoring canals in an area of the United States so arid the locals refer to the river there as the American Nile. Ditch riders hold the keys to valves that turn on and off the water that irrigates 60,000 acres of cropland. They also make certain that enough water is conserved and released to maintain habitat for endangered species downstream.

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Farming in the Platte River Valley | A Fertile Ecosystem

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Grassland biomes are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. More than 600 species of vertebrates inhabit this region, making it one of the most diverse biomes on the planet.

Today, only 10 percent of tallgrass prairies remain, and nearly 60 percent of the entire central grasslands has been converted to row crops, particularly corn and soybeans, grown for livestock feed, alternative fuels, and human consumption. In the last 150 years, the landscape of the Great Plains has been reshaped more quickly and radically than any environment in human history.

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