Manhattan High School
2100 Poyntz Ave.
Manhattan, Kansas 66502
The purpose of this report was to evaluate all of the Environmental History Institute’s materials and information used in my summer Field Biology Class. However, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the materials received through the institute leads to one major problem. Last year my Field Biology Class was in session before the Environmental History Institute occurred. This year the follow-up session for the Institute was held a month before my summer Field Biology Course. So I have not taught the course yet and cannot evaluate the effectiveness of the different labs, assignments, and just basic information that I have received. Nevertheless, I can explain how I am going to incorporate the information from the many different guest lectures and also the three labs that I developed during the institute.
As a very busy science teacher I read mostly periodicals so that I can stay current with new scientific information and the latest discoveries. When developing new lectures or updating old lectures I might read only a few sections from three or four books. So you can imagine my shock of receiving almost twenty books to read for this class. I did enjoy most and will definitely use almost all of them. Several of the books I found to be favorites. Mari Sandoz’s Love Song to the Plains was personally important because it provided me with the historical perspective of the Great Plains. John Ise’s “Sod and Stubble” supplied me with incredible insights into what pioneer farming on the Kansas plains must have been like. Carolyn Merchant’s Major Problems in American Environmental History, Donald Worster’s Nature’s Ecology, and Thomas Lyon’s This Incomperable Lande furnished both a historical summarization on the different environmental philosophies and also examples of writings reflecting those ideas. While I had already read Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and Mike Blair’s Prairie Chronicles, their land ethic ideas were important because they are the basis for my personal environmental philosophy.
I must say that even though I am continually finding the use of the books important, my favorite part of this course was the guest lecturers. Without exception, every guest speaker was extremely interesting. Although each presenter had a different style, they all shared an incredible amount of information in a very relaxed amiable manner. The relaxed atmosphere along with the question and answer period at the end of each presentation contributed to a great learning environment. I believe it helped each participant to completely comprehend and appreciate the information that was provided. The knowledge I acquired from each outstanding presentation is indisputable. An equally important factor was that I thoroughly enjoyed every guest speaker.
Collectively, these authors and guest speakers have made me reconsider history in a totally new way. Now, I firmly believe that the environment is not a passive background on which history occurs, but instead is an active participant which almost dictates how events must unfold to create history.
This is one of the basic ideas that I would like to convey to my students. I plan on doing this subtly by including the following essays, lesson plans, and labs into my Field Biology Course. I have developed three labs from the Institute that I plan on using in my course: a wild-flower lab, a prairie-fire lab, and a stream-study lab. Each lab has a historical component. In the wild-flower lab the students are asked to determine if a plant has any historical significance; was the plant edible, medicinal, or useful to Indians or pioneers in some way? In the prairie-fire lab students are expected to understand the impact that fire has on the prairie ecosystem. They are asked to imagine the appearance of our area prior to the control of prairie fires. In the stream-lab each student is asked to imagine the past importance of water on the life style of the Indians, pioneers, and prairie animals. An essay on the interrelationships between Cheyenne Indians, pioneers, and bison from Dr. Elliot West will be given to the students to read. Two other essays taken from Environmental History Institute’s guest speakers will be given to the students. As an example of our society’s manifest destiny philosophy, I have used Dr. Douglas Hurt’s lecture on creation of the Kansas and Nebraska National Forests. Also I am going to provide my students with a summarization of Dr. Samuel Hays’s lecture on cities. From the top of the northern hills on the Konza prairie, students can see Manhattan and the surrounding rural ecosystems. After reading Dr. Hays’s information and viewing old Manhattan Historical Society photographs, students will try to determine the impact of prairie fires and cities on the rural environment. All essays, labs, pictures, poems, and various assignments are to be kept in the student’s journal.
Another basic idea that developed from the course that I would sincerely like to convey to my students is that of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic. Hopefully parts of the labs, lessons, and assignments previously mentioned will help to accomplish this. I will also use a more direct approach. As we travel to Colorado we will listen to my tapes of A Sand County Almanac and then write on what they think "land ethic" means.
The last concept that I hope to convey is probably the most important. This is because students will not develop a true "land ethic" for the Great Plains, if they do not see any value in a prairie ecosystem. A huge percentage of my students cannot wait to graduate and leave Kansas. I believe this is the result of students not seeing the value of this environment, or as Dr. Dan Flores states: not developing a "sense of place." Dr. Flores probably had a greater impact on me than any other speaker. I am going to use his questions, and some of my own, to try to develop a sense of place in my students. Not only will my students answer those questions, but we will go out to the Konza at night, sit on the highest hill, write poetry, and watch the stars. If I accomplish nothing else, I hope I can instill in my students a sense of place for the plains and prairies.
Overview and Connection to the Curriculum: This lesson plan is to help students identify how fire affects the prairie. It should also provide an opportunity for each student to engage in a historical visualization of what prairie fires must of been like hundreds of years ago.
Time Required: The time required should only be one class period to visit the Hulbert Plots on the Konza Prairie.
Materials and Equipment: Each student will need only paper and pencil (and field guides if you wish to extend the activity).
Homework for the night prior to the field trip: At home close your eyes and visualize a prairie. Imagine that it’s a warm sunny day with a gentle breeze. Now try to conceive what the prairie sounds like, smells like, feels like, and looks like. For each sense quickly write down a few sensations that you experience as you visualize a prairie.
Burned Every Four Years:
Burned Every Four Years:
Overview and Connection to the Curriculum: This lesson plan is to help students identify plants. It can be used to identify plants found in any ecosystem. This lab can be modified so that variations can be used throughout the elementary grades, middle school, high school, or college.
Time Required: The time required depends on the quality of the presentation you demand and the variation of the lab that you use. I believe it will take a minimum of 2 class periods (1 class period if you only want rough drawings) to collect the data.
Materials and Equipment: Each student will fill out one wild flower form per plant, photograph the flower of the plant and the entire plant, and with their partner videotape the plant while their partner gives its name and a short narrative containing a description of the plant and any important facts about the plant (Ex. edible, poisonous, medicinal).
A. Prior to filming the plant, run a "focus test."
B. Do not walk with camera while filming. If you need to get closer, use
the zoom. If you still need to get closer to flower, then stop filming
and walk closer.
C. Hold shot of plant or flower for at least 30 seconds. Read description
of plant from taxonomic book or botany book. Include any thing of
taxonomic or historical significance. (Ex. - Square stem or Indian and pioneer
Place photograph of entire plant here.
Place drawing of 2 leaves (or 1 if leaf is compound) here.
Worksheet (page 2)
Place photograph of plant’s flower here.
Place drawing of flower here.
Notes Leaf Type - simple compound Leaf Arrangement - alternate opposite whorled basal Flower Arrangement - Petal # = 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 >10 Petals: ray flowers regular disk flowers irregular both Stamen # = 3 4 5 6 8 9 10 >10 Ovary: superior inferior Plant Height = ____________________ Flower density: Common in area, scattered throughout area, rare in area. (plants/area) 10/m2 1/m2 1/5m2 1/10m2 other=_____________ Ecosystem plant found in: tall grass prairie, gallery forest, disturbed soil, rocky slopes, marsh, meadows, riparian, other=_______________________________ Any unusual physical characteristics or adaptations? Does the plant have any historical significance