This activity is meant to accompany lessons on biogeochemical cycles, not replace them. Students should already have been introduced to the carbon, nitrogen, and water cycles. The chaparral and riparian ecosystems of Rose Canyon in the midst of urban San Diego serves as an example in this activity. Rose Canyonís geology and biology, as well as the threats facing its inhabitants, serve as a microcosm for concepts such as biogeochemical cycling. By participating directly in data collection and analysis, students will gain an appreciation of the scientific process. Students will also be able to connect key concepts in earth science to their direct experience and local environment.

  • Day 1: Introduce the difference between climate and weather. Introduce seasonal changes, and how they differ in different parts of the world. Describe how seasonal changes affect biogeochemical cycling.
  • Day 2: Assess what the students have learned from the previous dayís lecture. Students should be able to relate classroom concepts to the surrounding environment, and make predictions based on their own observations.
  • Day 1: Introducing Seasonal Changes.
  • Day 2: Seasonal Change in the Field.
  • For Day 2 activity students may be divided into small groups. Each group will become an expert on one of the above three topics: animals, weather, or changes. They will monitor activity in their area, and report to the rest of the class with their findings.
  • Remind students to wear field-appropriate shoes and clothing.
  • Remind students of proper behavior in the field (e.g., no picking flowers) and of potential hazards (poison oak, cactus spines).
  • The warm-up is the first slide in PowerPoint presentation, showing a fall scene in Portland, OR. As a review, students should list one example for each of Four Spheres found in this photo, and two examples of sphere interactions. Then introduce seasonal change, noting that the sphere interactions can change with time (Teacherís notes included in Presenterís Notes section of the PowerPoint).
  • Conclude: Show warm-up photo again (end of slideshow) and emphasize that the biogeochemical cycles change with the seasons. What might change in the photo during the winter? Now that students can recognize seasonal changes and biogeochemical cycles, we will look for them on campus tomorrow.
  • Ask students to make hypotheses about the kinds of seasonal changes they may see in the field. Ask what might be different from the last time the class when on a field trip. For example, in Rose Canyon we reminded students that it had been winter, and what might be different now that it was spring (e.g., flowers, leaves, animals out of hibernation).
  • Conclude: Ask students about their observations. Ask them to make predictions: what would happen to their area of expertise if it rained for a month? What would happen if there was a drought?


Seasonal Changes

Lesson Specifics
  • California Science Standard: 5a, 5b, 5c, and 5f

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