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Earth and Space Science

A classroom terrarium?

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Christine Medaglia Christine 770 Points

Hi, I was hoping to gain some feedback about making a terrarium as a class project for a 7/8 grade classroom. Some background that I think would be helpful, first. 1. I am a math teacher in an alternative learning program, but also teach one science class, so, my strengths aren't necessarily in science. I have 9 students. 2. My thumb is not green, it's the opposite of green. 3. I have a fish tank, a water supply and lots of willing students. (They love project-based learning and take pride in things they have a hand in creating. The idea for a terrarium came from several places. For starters, I found a huge fish tank in a cabinet when I moved into my current classroom. And secondly, my coworker teaches the rest of our program's students and he has a garden that the students maintain. My students feel a little left out that they don't really have anything to call their own. Hence my idea of a terrarium... With that being said, I think it's completely possible to create and sustain a terrarium in our classroom, I'm just not really sure how or where to begin. And that's where you all (hopefully) come in! Has anyone had a classroom terrarium before? Is it even possible to have a classroom terrarium? Is it too messy? Will it sustain the students' interest enough? Will the terrarium be interactive enough that the kids learn useful skills from it? This math teacher thanks you in advance for all your wonderful ideas :) Christine Medaglia Waipahu Intermediate School

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

Try doing a search for "bottle biology" and you will find several articles about terrariums in bottles. It should be easy to adapt these ideas to a large form such as your fish tank to a terrarium. Good luck.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92186 Points

I especially like the idea of the huge Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, Christine. You may find this article useful in encouraging you in that direction:
Chow Down! Using Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches to Explore Basic Nutrition Concepts
Carolyn

Patty McGinnis Patricia McGinnis 25635 Points

Hissing cockroaches are easy to raise...just make sure you put a film of petroleum jelly around the inside top of the aquarium to prevent them from climbing out.

Although not as glamorous as a terrarium with animals in it, you can put together a jar with rocks, soil, and moss. I have one in my room that has not been opened for two years which always amazes the students.

Here's a couple links that might be helpful
Make a Terrarium
Build a Terrarium
Terrarium lesson Plan

Shannon Hudson Shannon Hudson 2555 Points

This is a great idea! My students created one using an aquarium. They dug up some grass with soil (about 4 inches deep) from our school yard. They cut a plastic bottle and closely fitted it into a corner for the water source. Then, as an added bonus, they put in earthworms, a couple of slugs, and one of my student donated his frog his mother told him he could no longer keep. All I add is a few crickets once in a while :-)

Kendra Young Kendra Young 17180 Points

Bottle Biology is a resource from the NSTA Press that I've wanted to try for years. I think I might be teaching 8th grade next year and if so, I'll definitely be ordering this.

Heather Janes Heather Janes 1600 Points

I had a plan to do terrariums this year, but they were just too overwhelming. The 'recipe' I had called for algae, which I could not locate locally and didn't want to spend my whole budget on to ship it/purchase it. So...the bottles were recycled at the end of the year. I guess after reading the above posts, it is okay to start small!! :)

Jessica Irwin Jessica Irwin 1445 Points

I also teach 7th grade and have considered creating terrariums in order to explore some basic concepts in ecology. This past year I asked my students to develop a multimedia project based on any of the subjects that we have covered that interested them. As if he/she were reading my mind, a student created a fresh water environment that included a gold fish, a plant, a snail, and gravel. I understand that this is not self sustaining or a true terrarium. However, it did lead me to develop an in class project where students are required to develop a self sustaining environment (marine or land based). Great project that helps that students apply basic ecological concepts. Whether your school has the resources to purchase the actual supplies, the students can hypothetically design this environment.

Jessica Irwin Jessica Irwin 1445 Points

I also teach 7th grade and have considered creating terrariums in order to explore some basic concepts in ecology. This past year I asked my students to develop a multimedia project based on any of the subjects that we have covered that interested them. As if he/she were reading my mind, a student created a fresh water environment that included a gold fish, a plant, a snail, and gravel. I understand that this is not self sustaining or a true terrarium. However, it did lead me to develop an in class project where students are required to develop a self sustaining environment (marine or land based). Great project that helps that students apply basic ecological concepts. Whether your school has the resources to purchase the actual supplies, the students can hypothetically design this environment.

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