The second grade curriculum is driven by participation in authentic research projects to document the biodiversity of species in the schoolyard and local community, including trees, birds, and insects. In the garden, students plant multiple varieties of peas to explore variation in traits within a species. They design and conduct experiments to test the effects of water, light, compost, and fertilizer on crop production.
Students will define biodiversity and conduct a simulation showing how diversity in life forms ensures survival. This theme will be applied to the garden with several varieties of the same crop, peas, to investigate how well each thrives.
Students will model the roles of each part of a tree. They will use a dichotomous key to identify tree species based on their leaf patterns. Students tour the school campus to create a tree ID guide detailing characteristic seeds/cones, leaves, bark patterns, branching patterns, flowers, and leaf arrangements. This lesson correlates with the Art in Action lesson on Japanese brush painting and branching patterns.
Students conduct a bird count in diverse areas of the school as part of a citizen science project called Celebrate Urban Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Data will be logged and used to see how the school campus evolves over time. Extra data collection sheets will be sent home over the break for families to participate as an extension. The harvest peas if possible, before frost sets.
Students model the rock cycle using shredded colby jack cheese. They examine the properties of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks and crystals using a sample collection and sort them by shared characteristics. They evaluate frost damage and harvest remaining vegetables.
Students will dissect peas to identify the parts of a seed and learn how a plant embryo develops. They will investigate and classify seeds by their method of dispersal. They start beans plants in pots indoors to prepare for transplant.
Students will divide the garden beds into rows for experimentation and plant a monoculture (opposite of biodiversity) of bean plants. They will learn about control and variables by testing soil percolation rates. They design experiments to change the variables in each row to test the best methods for bean growth.
Students will investigate the variety of insect species present in the native plants garden. They will use authentic entomology tools to find, observe, and document insects by their observable characteristics. They search for signs of insect damage in the vegetable and monitor the progress of the beans.
Students will measure plant growth and harvest spring salads. They will complete journals. Students will draw conclusions from their garden experiments and present the data in graphical form. They will prepare the beds for summer dormancy.