High School Environmental Science Students Experience the Wonder of Biodiversity

Students in Norwin High School’s AP Environmental Science class recently experienced the wonders of biodiversity by sampling soil macroinvertebrates such as insect larva, beetles, and isopods (commonly known as pill bugs, rolly-polies, or wood lice).

They dug up soil samples outside Norwin High School, then returned to the classroom to investigate with the help of Berlese funnels, which separate the macroinvertebrates from the soil samples. Then they used three data analysis methods to compare macroinvertebrate biodiversity between a field and a forest habitat. They also used Google Sheets to analyze and share data.

After their analysis had been completed, the students learned that the field habitat had higher biodiversity than the forest did.  “While we might expect the forest to have higher diversity, sometimes edge habitats like the field will have higher biodiversity due to having organisms from more than one habitat overlapping,” said Mrs. Joyce Muchoney, a Biology and AP Environmental Science Instructor at Norwin High School.

This hands-on lesson represents one of many examples where a Norwin teacher provided real-world applications in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). According to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, STEM education helps students to develop a variety of important skills, including “problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, decision making, leadership, entrepreneurship, acceptance of failure and more. Regardless of the future career path considered by these children, these skill sets go a long way to preparing them to be innovative.”