The third grade BUGS curriculum focuses on the life cycle and heredity. Students learn about variation and how traits are selected for in nature to give an advantage in the survival of the species. The students observe the life cycle of the butterfly and explore local ecology in the native plants garden. The year culminates in a debate over solutions to habitat loss in monarch butterflies and the Florida panther. In math, third grade students learn about area, and students will put this into practice in the garden using the method of square foot gardening.
Students learn the method of square foot gardening. They measure and partition the raised beds into boxes. They make a sample garden plan on paper with appropriately spaced plants for the method.
Students learn about variation in traits within a species, using dogs and birds as examples. They are introduced to the idea of natural selection and conduct a simulation to show how certain traits may be selected for over time. They see how a change in the environment can create new pressure to select for different traits. They plant different members of the Brassica family to see the variation in traits that farmers have selected for.
Students model the movement of water across Earth’s surfaces. They learn the importance of evaporation and precipitation in purifying water and making it available for plants and animals. They discuss irrigation in the garden and harvest available fall crops.
Students use puppets to tell the story about how an oak tree grows over time and all the other animals that depend on it for life. They consider the importance of keystone species and predict the future of the schoolyard and the oak trees on it. They learn how to build a compost pile.
Students play a game to learn how energy is passed through an ecosystem. They explore the ecosystems represented in the native plants garden to explore species diversity and how each plant has adaptations that make it well suited to live in that zone. They inspect the compost bins for decomposers and plan their spring gardens.
Students watch the dissection of an unfertilized egg and perform various tests on egg properties. They enjoy a visit from backyard chickens to learn about flock behavior, variation in traits, artificial selection, and how chickens can be helpful in the garden. They plant their spring gardens.
Students grow butterflies from larva to pupa to adult in their classrooms. They learn about the parts and adaptations of a butterfly, as well as metamorphosis and migration. Students explore an interpretive trail about how habitat loss and restoration affects migrating butterflies. They add wildflowers to the native plants garden.
Students harvest their crops and prepare food. They close the beds for summer dormancy and add plants to the native garden. They paint rocks for the native plants garden to leave as a legacy to the school.
Students participate in a model of biological magnification to see how every changes at the bottom of the food chain accumulate in predators. In a town hall format, students take on the roles of diverse community members to debate a proposal to reintroduce the Florida panther to their local environment.
Optional Field Trip: Wunderlich Park Ecosystems Hike
Students experience and document the characteristics of the different ecosystems they pass though as they hike at Wunderlich Park in Woodside. They learn about local flora and fauna and the history of land use in the county.