Signs of the Seasons: A Maine Phenology Project
Festival Dates: Comparing Celebrations of the Past and Present
(can be paired with “Phenology Snapshots” activity)
Authors: Beth Bisson1, Medea Steinman2, Esperanza Stancioff2,1, and Abraham J. Miller-Rushing3
1Maine Sea Grant
2University of Maine Cooperative Extension
3National Park Service, Acadia National Park and Schoodic Education and Research Center
Grade level: 6-12
Themes: Phenology, climate change
Activity type: Historical research, evidence-based thinking, and supporting claims with evidence
Setting: Classroom, outdoors, meeting space
When do natural and human events happen in your community?
Is the timing of some events changing?
If you think so, how do you know? Can you find evidence to support your claim?
Students conduct an investigation using past and present source materials to compare the timing of seasonal festivals important to people in their communities. They learn to make use of library, news media and Internet-based resources to conduct research, develop stories and arrive at answers about the seasonal rhythms of their own human community and how those may have shifted in response to changes in the timing of phenological events. Optionally, students also learn to conduct interviews and to tap the potentially rich resources of information within families and homes. Where such resources aren’t available, or in cases where events are no longer held, students may turn to the photographic record, past and present, to compare the timing of festivals and plant phenology (see Phenology Snapshots).
Students are encouraged to infer meaning from the comparisons (e.g., with respect to climate change), engage in speculation, and learn to articulate and support claims and conclusions. Alternatively, they have the opportunity to share what they learn through other creative means, such as visual collage, story-telling, publishing interviews in local media or giving presentations at school. If a festival is no longer held, perhaps they could take the lead in reviving one. This can be used as a basis for classroom discussion, leading students to learn about their communities and explore lines of inquiry, reflection and creative expression.
Maine Learning Results (Science and Technology)
A1 Unifying Themes – Systems
3-5. Students explain interactions between parts that make up whole man-made and natural things.
6-8. Students describe and apply principles of systems in man-made things, natural things, and processes.
9-Diploma. Students apply an understanding of systems to explain and analyze man-made and natural phenomena.
A3 Unifying Themes – Constancy and Change
3-5 a. Recognize patterns of change including steady, repetitive, irregular, or apparently unpredictable change.
6-8. Students describe how patterns of change vary in physical, biological, and technological systems.
B1 Skills and Traits of Scientific Inquiry
3-5 a. Pose investigable questions and seek answers from reliable sources of scientific information and from their own investigations.
6-8. Students plan, conduct, analyze data from, and communicate results of investigations, including simple experiments.
C1 The Scientific and Technological Enterprise – Understandings of Inquiry
3-5 a. Describe how scientists answer questions by developing explanations based on observations, evidence, and knowledge of the natural world.
9-diploma. Students describe key aspects of scientific investigations: that they are guided by scientific principles and knowledge, that they are performed to test ideas, and that they are communicated and defended publicly.
E2 The Living Environment – Ecosystems
3-5. Students describe ways organisms depend upon, interact within, and change the living and non-living environment as well as ways the environment affects organisms.
6-8. Students examine how the characteristics of the physical, non-living (abiotic) environment, the types and behaviors of living (biotic) organisms, and the flow of matter and energy affect organisms and the ecosystem of which they are part.
Expectations and Misconceptions: It’s important to mention to students that they probably will not find changes in the timing of all events. They may not find changes in the timing of any events. The goal is to know which have changed, which haven’t, and why.
Guard against the notion that, “If I see changes in timing, that’s climate change. If I don’t see them, then the climate is not changing.” Remind them that the climate is changing, that some things are impacted more than others, and that things are impacted differently.
– One-two hours (or as needed) for historical research, plus travel time if research involves a field trip
– One-two hours (or as needed – can be completed outside of class) for attending festivals and interviewing people in the community, or for photographing present-day phenological events
– One-two 30-40 minute class periods to develop presentation about any conclusions or findings
–One 30-40 minute class period for presentation(s) and group discussion
10. When the presentations occur, make sure there is ample time for questions, discussion, and reflection.
REFLECTION/FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT IDEAS
Reflection: Ask participants to describe their investigation and reflect on what worked well and what they could do differently next time. Ask them to talk about any changes that have occurred in the timing of the festivals they researched. Can they speculate about possible climate-related causes for these changes? How much can they infer, and what more evidence/information would they need to make any claims about climate change causes?
Formative assessment: Collect the students’ science notebooks or journals to see how well they recorded their initial predictions and the data they collected through their species observations. Were they able to make connections between what they saw and their original predictions? Do they understand the process of collecting evidence that either supports or does not support their predictions? Save examples of student work for reference next time you try this activity. Work that shows a range from solid understanding to common misconceptions is particularly helpful.
Consider having the students present their stories or photographs publicly, at the local library, nature center, education and research center (i.e., associated with a national park), town meeting where a relevant discussion is on the agenda, and consider drawing media attention to the event. If students find that an historic seasonal festival no longer takes place, ask them to research the reasons for that. If the phenological event still occurs, do any of the students have an interest in trying to revive the festival? Can you help them lead such an effort?
Signs of the Seasons (http://umaine.edu/signs-of-the-seasons)
USA National Phenology Network (http://www.usanpn.org)
For information about conducting interviews: http://www.folklife.si.edu/education_exhibits/resources/guide/introduction.aspx
For assistance contact:
Esperanza Stancioff, Climate Change Educator
University of Maine Cooperative Extension/Maine Sea Grant
(207) 832-0343; 1-800-244-2104
Signs of the Seasons Partners
In complying with the letter and spirit of applicable laws and pursuing its own goals of diversity, the University System shall not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, including transgender status or gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other areas of the University System. The University provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. If you are a person with a disability and will need any accommodations to participate in this program, please contact Esperanza Stancioff at 1-800-244-2104 to discuss your needs. Please contact us at least 10 days prior to this event to assure fullest possible attention to your needs. Questions and complaints about discrimination in any area of the University should be directed to the Executive Director of Equal Opportunity, The University of Maine, Room 101, 5754 North Stevens Hall, Orono, ME 04469-5754, telephone (207) 581-1226 (voice and TDD). Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative Extension and other agencies of USDA provide equal opportunities in programs and employment. 02/11
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