OUTDOOR PROJECT – TREE CENSUS OF A CITY PARK
The aim of the biology and ecology teaching project is to promote and develop practical and analytical skills based on the use of the senses through a direct approach to nature. The activities involve a multidisciplinary approach according to the pedagogical principles of outdoor education and the pedagogy of doing, group work and the use of digital applications.
Brief introduction to the practice :
The goal of this project is to provide students with hands-on experience in all phases of preparation, analysis and processing of results.
Students will work both individually and in groups. The teacher will choose a city park, forest or any green area, and students will be guided through an analysis process organized in several stages. These involve preparing map material, recognizing species and their locations, and finally an assessment of the conservation status and biodiversity of the chosen place.
The project is also structured in such a way that links and activities can be included with other specific subjects in the school curriculum
- Period of implementation: 10 Hours
- Country where the practice was developed : Italy
- Provider of the practice : APRO Formazione - Alba
- Targetg group: 17-19 y.o. students, EQF 4 level
How to implement the practice :
The project can be carried out following these main point:
Step 1 - Introduction to the project: the class is presented with the educational project that will involve them in the analysis and recognition of trees in a public park. Students will be taken on a tour of the chosen site, and the teacher will show them the general naturalistic features of the area and their relationship with the people. (1 hours + time to go and see for the first time the chosen park)
Step 2 - Preparation of materials in classroom: pupils are divided into groups will create the materials for the outdoor activity (2-3 hours):
- A detailed map of the park. In particular, it is possible to create a paper or digital map. The teacher can choose the type of material he prefers to have produced. It is important to be able to insert the precise position of the trees into the map as a point and a number.
- Form for data collection. This form will be used to enter information relating to each individual tree: the progressive number of the plant, descriptive characteristics for recognition, name of the species.
Step 3 - How to recognize the tree species in nature: Frontal lesson about the procedures for tree
recognition: Species recognition diagrams based on morphology of leaves, bark, buds, flowers, and fruits; use of smartphone app based on recognition of the same parameters using the phone's camera and an online database. Definition of the characteristics that must be entered in the data collection form. (1 Hour)
Step 4 - Field activities (first outdoor activity): Students, divided into groups, are tasked to survey all trees in a specific assigned area of the park. Each team will have to use the tools they made in step 2. They could use only the recognition method based on direct observation of the morphological characteristics of the trees to identify tree species. Step 5 – Collect data: Each team will have to rework the collected data to present it to the whole class.
Step 6 – Self-check (second outdoor activity): in a second educational outing to the park, each group will be tasked with verifying the work done by another group and the accuracy of the species identified using new technologies this time through a smartphone tree recognition application (e. g. Plantnet). This will be followed by a brainstorming time in class on this verification phase.
Step 7 - Project conclusion: The whole class will be responsible for producing a final digital or paper map of overall data collection. This will be followed by a time of discussion and presentation of the final paper produced. If necessary, teacher could talk about biodiversity as a value in nature. The project will evaluate the entire educational project through the final paper produced and the work done in each steps.
- - Knowledge of the structural parts of trees and common descriptive morphological terms
- - Basics of cartography and orientation
- - Ability to use basic writing and graphics programs on the pc
- - Use of georeferencing applications for smartphones or pc
Main learning outcomes from the practice :
- - Ability to work in a team
- - Ability to manage time
- - Promoting autonomy in study
- - Ability to observe and interpret our surroundings scientifically
- - Promoting problem solving skills
- - Ability to orient and move in nature
- - Development of social skills
- - Use of their computer and digital skills
- - Presenting their work in front of people
- - Promoting sense of ownership of public green and raise awareness of environmental issues
- - Enhancing biodiversity
Needed/Suggested digital tools:
- Suite Office or similar
- Google map or similar
- Apps for smartphone: Plantnet, Starva
- The practice was carried: : Another way
"Other way" specification:
Frontal lecture, group work, outdoor activities, digital lab
Critical points to shift towards STEM learning and solutions:
Students sometimes need their teacher help in many phases. The teacher in such a case should not provide solutions but help find solutions to all possible problems. Outdoor activities are subject to unpredictable weather conditions so they should preferably be planned in spring or fall.
Positive aspects of participatory learning :
- - Outdoor and green activities
- - Project that gives space to be together and in the sharing of individual knowledge and skills
- - Students Cooperation
- - Each student can give their contribution to reach the goal
- - Less performing students can reach a higher level thanks to their classmates help and group work
Negative aspects of participatory learning:
Management involves a lot of versatility for the teacher and developed soft skills
Included green education (if any):
- - Outdoor education
- - Biodiversity