Author:
Sandy Benton, Melissa Wimmler
Subject:
Environmental Literacy and Sustainability, Life Science, Mathematics
Material Type:
Lesson Plan, Unit of Study
Level:
Lower Primary
Tags:
  • Bar Graph
  • Connect-explore-engage
  • Inches
  • Measurement
  • Numbers in Nature
  • Outdoor STEM
  • Picture Graph
  • Place-based Learning
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    Measurement and Data in Nature

    Overview

    This unit focuses on measurement and data for second-grade. The second-graders learn how to accurately measure natural objects using nonstandard units (unifix cubes) and standard units (inches). During field experiences, the students learned how to use field guides and how to collect data for a BioBlitz. Students used their data to create bar graphs, picture graphs, and analyzed their data.

    Measurement and Data in Nature

    Unit Title: Measurement and Data in Nature

    Grade Level: 2nd

    Content Area(s): Math and Science

    Standards of Mathematical Practice Addressed:

    SMP 1 - Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

    SMP 3 - Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

    SMP 5 - Use appropriate tools strategically.

    SMP 6 - Attend to precision.

    Content Standard of Mathematics Addressed:

    M.2.MD.A.1 - Measure the length of an object by selecting and using appropriate tools such as rulers, yardsticks, meter sticks, and measuring tapes. 

    M.2.MD.A.4 - Measure to determine how much longer one object is than another, expressing the length difference in terms of a standard length unit. 

    M.2.MD.D.10 - Draw a picture graph and a bar graph (with single-unit scale) to represent a data set with up to four categories. Solve simple put together, take-apart, and compare problems using information presented in a bar graph.

    Context (Briefly describe the unit of study): 

    This unit focuses on measurement and data for second-grade. The second-graders learn how to accurately measure natural objects using nonstandard units (unifix cubes) and standard units (inches). During field experiences, the students learned how to use field guides and how to collect data for a BioBlitz. Students used their data to create bar graphs, picture graphs, and analyzed their data. 

    Description:

    During the second-grade plant unit the students were learning about flowers. Before our field experience the students learned how to measure using trains of unifix cubes and how to identify prairie flowers. When the class headed to Goose Pond Sanctuary the students brought along their unifix cube trains, prairie flower field guides, and science notebooks. During the field experience the students identified a prairie flower, recorded the name, measured the height with unifix cubes, and recorded the height. During the class discussion the students compared their plant height data and made comparisons between prairie flowers and other plants.

    In the classroom the students learned about palmate and pinnate leaves. During morning meetings the students used tally charts to vote for their favorite choices such as favorite fruit. Before heading to a local city park the students put a tally chart in their notebook with a row for palmate leaves and a row for pinnate leaves. The tally chart had a column for students to record a tally mark for each leaf and another column to record the total number found. As the class walked to Washington Park each student picked up one leaf. When the class gathered for a discussion the students shared their observations and the differences between palmate and pinnate leaves. The students paired up and spread out. Each student picked up ten leaves so each partnership had a total of 20 leaves. The partners worked together to identify their leaves as palmate or pinnate and record a tally mark on their chart for each leaf. The class gathered and the students shared how many palmate and pinnate leaves they found. The class discussed the differences between the data from each group and the type of trees at the park. 

    For the next three field experiences the students used their experiences with tally charts and field guides to collect BioBlitz data at three different locations. Before each trip the students put a chart in their science notebook to record the name of the species, a tally mark for each time they found the species, and total number. Students were divided into groups of three and worked with the same partners for all three field experiences. Each group had a small hula hoop, a small white tray and field guides for trees, fungi, lichen and decomposing logs. Our first location was Otsego Marsh. The class headed down to the wooded area near the edge of the pond and found a place for their hula hoop. Groups started identifying organisms in their hula hoop and recording the data on the chart in their notebook. Students were encouraged to cooperate, place items on the white tray to investigate further and to continue exploring into the soil. Before leaving the marsh the groups shared their data and observations with other groups. Our second location was Astico Park on a wooded trail on a hill that goes down to the river. Groups repeated the procedure from the first trip and collected data for the number of species they found. Again groups shared their data and observations with other groups. The class also discussed the differences between the two locations and their data. Our third location was Astico park on a mowed trail in the middle of a prairie area. This time the long grass made it a little more difficult for the students to position their hula hoops and move the items as they were identified and counted. This time as the students shared their data and observations they noticed the huge difference between the third location and first two. After each field experience the groups worked together to create a bar graph for their data. After all three field experiences the students compared the bar graphs from each location and recorded their observations. They wrote about which species they found the most of, which they found the least of, how many of one they found compared to another, the total number they found at all three locations, and why they think there were similarities and differences between the locations. 

    When it started to snow the students were learning about picture graphs and measuring in inches. During a field experience to Otsego Marsh the students measured and graphed the snow depth in three different sites. The class decided to use foot long rulers to measure because they did not think there would be more than 12 inches of snow on the ground. The class also decided to use circles on their picture graph to represent the inches of snow they measured. Students measured the snow depth in a shrubby area near the marsh pond, in a wooded area with deciduous trees, and a wooded area with coniferous and deciduous trees. Students used their picture graphs to make comparisons between the different sites and compared their graphs with other groups. Back at school the students wrote about their picture graph observations. They wrote about which site had the most snow, the least snow, the difference between the depths at different sites, and the reason for the differences.

    Throughout the unit the students were engaged in measuring, data collection, graphing, asking and answering questions about their data, and sharing and comparing their data with others. Students tried to be accurate when measuring and counting. As an educator I strived to teach my students math skills while connecting with nature.   

    Resources:

    Beetles project. (n.d.). http://beetlesproject.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Fungi-Exploration-Key.pdf.

    Lichen key - beetles project. (n.d.-b). http://beetlesproject.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Lichen-Key.pdf.

    Student activity guide case of the disappearing log - beetles project. (n.d.-c). http://beetlesproject.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Case-of-the-Disappearing-Log.pdf.

    Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin Urban Tree Key: Broadleaf and Conifers.