Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rotting Log Experience

published on: 6/21/2004

Contributing Teacher(s): Angie Voelmeck

Subject Area: Integrated Curriculum/Environmental Education

Grade Range: Middle Grades (6-8)

Materials Needed:

    For each group of students:1 white paper plate1 hand lense1 pair forceps1 large screwdriver2 petri dishes, or zip-lock bagsfield guide for insects

Objective: Students will understand terms related to and the organisms involved in the study of succession. Students will write and illustrate a children''s book explaining succession.

Process Standards:

  • Goal 2.1 plan and make written, oral and visual presentations for a variety of purposes and audiences
  • Goal 3.1 identify problems and define their scope and elements

Content Standards:

  • Communication Arts 4. Writing formally (such as reports, narratives, essays) and informally (such as outlines, notes)
  • Science 3. Characteristics and interactions of living organisms

    Time Allowance: Science—three 90-minute class periods

    Description: Exploring succession with rotting logs and children''s books. -- environment, organic process

    Comments: Logs that are partially rotted—the softer, the better, best if there is still bark on the log (Oak, hickory, and elm). The more fungus and/or lichens, the better. Cut sections approximately 12 inches long. Use heavy-duty trash bags, or Rubbermaid containers to place the logs in. Use a shovel to pick up 2 inches of soil from under the log and the log itself. Try not to roll the log around during transportation.

    Classroom Component:


    Teacher Notes:

    Succession is an organic process in which organisms alter their environment.

    After a unit of study about succession in science class, the students are allowed to dissect a rotting log. A lab sheet is provided to record observations. Students also collect samples that are observed under a microscope.

    Student Prompt

    Congratulations! You have been hired by the S and A Publishing Company to create a children's books about succession. Your first step is to design a storyboard or graphic organizer that will guide you when writing your story. Your storyboard or graphic organizer needs to be approved before you begin your final copy. You will also design a front cover, which should contain the story title and names of the author and illustrator. Please use the following checklist to ensure the proper information is included in your finished product.

    checkbox explanation of succession is appropriate for non-readers

    checkbox colorful illustrations

    checkbox proper layout  
    checkbox interesting and entertaining
    checkbox length is adequate for non-readers
    Your finished book is due in two weeks.

    Rotting Log Lab

    Describe your observations in detail for each of the zones. To the best of your ability, draw what you see in your science notebook. Later you will be allowed to color what you have drawn. Be sure to use descriptive words in your observations.

    Collect samples from each of the areas, and place them in the petri dishes. Do not collect spiders. This is not the great bug hunt! Be sure to collect samples of fungi, mold, and lichens. We will use microscopes in the classroom to look at the samples that you collect.

    Zone A - The outside of the log
    In this part of the lab we will observe the outside of the log. Be sure to make your observations before you "tear" into the log. Record the plant life, fungi, and evidence of animal's habitation found on the outside of the log.


    Zone B - The layer under the bark
    When observing this part of the rotting log, carefully remove a section of the bark. Look very carefully for evidence of animal life in this area. Also look for evidence of other decomposers, for example, fungi.
    What abiotic factors are different for this area versus the outside of the log?


    Zone C - Layer within the wood
    Carefully use the screwdriver to pry open the rotting part of the log. List as many types of insects that you can find. Do a detailed drawing of the tunnels or dens of animals that you may find. How do the abiotic factors in this area differ from the other areas?


    Zone D - Layer under the log
    Gently roll the log over; record what the bottom of the log looks like, and what the soil under the log looks like. Record any evidence of life in this area. How do the abiotic factors in this area differ from the previous areas?


    Name ______________________________

    The Children's Book Scoring Guide

      5 pts. 3 pts. 1 pt.
    Story has few (1-2) errors in mechanics. Story has some (3-4) errors in mechanics. Story has many (5+) errors in mechanics.
    Illustrations Illustrations are colorful, appealing and enhance the story content. Illustrations are somewhat colorful and appealing. Illustrations lack color and appeal.
    Appearance Book is extremely neat and eye catching. Easy to read. Book is neat and readable. Book is unattractive and difficult to read.
    Organization Well organized. Nice page layout. Organized. Page layout is somewhat confusing. Unorganized. Page layout is confusing.
    Content Clearly explai

    For additional information contact :
    Angie Voelmeck
    Clinton Middle
    (660) 885-3353

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