Project Member

LBSC 642 Fall 2011
Penelope Murnane
School of Information Studies, University of Maryland


This is a unit in a Science class of fourth graders in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The school is anticipating receiving two terrapins to raise to release into the wild and they are learning about how plants can be used to save energy, about soil erosion and runoff, and the environmental benefits of native landscaping to native animals and plants. In addition the fourth grade students will be taking a field trip to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Lothian, Maryland. The Science teacher is working toward preparing her students and integrating field experiences into their curriculum before the visit. Crofton Pines is also applying to be a Green School which requires it to implement recycling, native landscapes, and be environmentally conscientious. See: The science teachers are working with the media specialist to ultimately make a movie on Kerpoof to show what they learned about green roofs and energy conservation or soil erosion water runoff. Technology used will be Kerpoof, Google Earth, Evernote, and Google search and digital cameras.

Standards Addressed:

  • ISTE1.b engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources
  • ISTE 1.c promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students' conceptual understanding and thinking, planning and creative processes.
  • ISTE 2b. develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their invidual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning and assessing their own progress.
  • AASL Standards 1.2.1 Graphic organizers/ask essential questions; 1.1.5 Evaluation websites/Evaluating information, 1.3.2 keyword searching, 1.1.7 Extract Information, 2.1.1 Analyze sources, 1.3.3 Bibliographic Citations, 2.1.4, 3.1.3, Critical thinking, appropriate product. AASL Standard 2: Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situtations, and create new knowledge. AASL Standard 3: Share knowledge and participate ethically and productively as members of our democratic society.

Setting and Context:

The setting is a suburban Maryland elementary school which is located in a planned community from the 1960s. 70% of the students walk to school from their homes. 15% are dropped off by parents, and 15% come from daycares and before school programs. The neighborhood has mature trees and a creek which feeds into a river which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay near the school building.

This lesson will be taught at Crofton Pines Elementary School which is in a suburban neighborhood of Washington DC and Baltimore. It is in a county which has more shoreline than any county in the United States, 534 miles of coastline. It is surrounded by mature trees and bubbling brooks. Although Crofton Pines isn't as close to the shore as other schools in the county. The streams in the community feed into the bigger streams which eventually empty into the Chesapeake Bay. This matters because the public school is in the process of applying for the Green School status being a public institution. The topic affects the environment which affects the entire public. The students are learning about issues that will affect them in the public world when they get out of school. This opportunity offers an active, engaging way for students to learn about a potential future career choice, working with plants, ecology, and the environment. They are learning how to protect their own neighborhood and keep it looking nice.
Students in the fourth grade are mostly Caucasian. There are 36 white males, 48 white females, 5 Hispanic males, 4 Hispanic females, 2 Asian males, 3 Asian females, 6 African American males, and 2 African American females. There is one student with mild Downs Syndrome and at least two students with learning disabilities (autism and ADHD). Will you be teaching this yourself, or working with a teacher? What are the challenges of either scenario?
The science teacher has invited me to help her get her class ready for the field trip to Jug Bay. Since she knows that I helped with the integration of the school's rain garden and I have access to many resources on gardening as an Anne Arundel County Master Gardener she invited me to come and talk with her classes about rain gardens and native plants. Challenges of working with the teacher are planning times together. When she's busy during the day teaching, I'm available; and when she's available after school I'm not as available. But we have planned around that by emailing and planning to meet at least 2 days after school to go over the details. Benefits, are her knowledge of science and her experience of teaching for 18 years at this school. As a result she knows what resources are available around the school and what she has done in the past. She will be teaching the unit on Ecology before hand and I will be coming in to teach the specific topics of Using plants to save energy and Soil Erosion and runoff.
Some factors that attest to the value of this project and the importance of this lesson can be found in this recent article from the Baltimore Sun, "Teachers have given science and social studies lessons fewer minutes in the school day since the federal No Child Left Behind Act dictated testing of reading and math from grades three through eight. Science is tested, but the results don't count toward the rating of schools. Maryland began testing students on their science knowledge several years ago."(September 20, 2011|By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun)
Scheduling changes that will affect the number of students who participate are band and strings practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students just leave the class when their scheduled band and strings practice happen so they will miss out on part of the lesson. Also, the students are preparing for their Spring Concert. All fourth and fifth graders are in the Spring Concert so the classes will need to meet when they are not practicing so all the students will be able to participate and gain the most from the upcoming field trip. Students have their specials in the morning which are P.E. Music, Art, and Media; so the classes will have to meet in the afternoon when the students are not as fresh and alert. This will be a challenge; however, the use of the engaging technology and the opportunity to learn about the terrapins as well as the anticipation of the field trip in a 1,500 acre county park with beavers, deer, turtles, and wild birds should help in keeping the students engaged and alert. Unless they are done on a Friday when there are no specials. The teacher has allotted 45 minutes for each lesson 2 weeks to complete it before the field trip.
  1. What are the technology skills of the students and the teachers? How do you plan to work around these considerations? The students have been learning about computer technology at Crofton Pines since they were in Kindergarten. They haven't learned about Kerpoof, yet. The teachers' have been trained in how to use the Smart board through a beginning of the year training session through the School Library Media Specialist. . The Media Specialist will be the primary source of teaching about the technologies. She isn't as familiar with Web 2.0; but she is very familiar with the school's public access catalog and searching for information there. She has been teaching students about research using the online catalog and online encyclopedias since they were in third grade. The science teacher will be teaching about the unit on Ecology. The science teacher will also teach about turtles and their importance to the the environment and the Bay.
  2. The computer lab has thirty computers. It has one smartboard and a document camera. The computers are connected to the internet. The media specialist has a smart board in her classroom as well as the science teacher. All of the computers are connected to the internet. Students can search online encyclopedias on the school media website. The online encyclopedias that are available are World Book Kids. One limit is that the school blocks Youtube videos even if they are educational. However the websites that students will be reseaching should be accessible because they are government and non-profit organizations. My access to technology is limited to when the public library is open and going into school to use the school computers. My access is therefore not limited very much. The website is not blocked at the school.
  3. There are no ethical concerns related to this lesson unless one is ethically against protecting the environment. And it is the hope of the science teacher and the parent volunteer to impart the ethical stewardship of the environment with these lessons and the trip to Jug Bay Wetlands Area.
  4. Twenty three students will be working collaboratively in pairs so they will be sharing the computers. If one of the computers is offline then it won't matter; because not all of the computers will be used. Students will decide who has what job. One student will be responsible for recording the website information and citing references. And another student will be using search terms. If there is a complete technology failure and all of the computers are down then the students will do their research the classic way with encyclopedias and non-fiction books in the media center. There are ten computers in the media center so some students may use the computers in the media center while others use the print sources. They will still need to record the citation information and summarize what they find while practicing research skills. If in one pair of students their computer goes offlline or doesn't work for some reason they can move to a different computer.
  5. Because students will be learning about the environment I would want them to go outside for part of the time to see the school's rain garden and where the water runoff comes from. Factors that will affect this part of the lesson are if the weather is cooperating and sunny.

The Materials and Technology Tools You will Need

Materials for Teacher:

  • Computer with internet connection and projection device,
  • clean, dry soil,
  • plastic cover sheet for a table,
  • small table fan, (only needed as a prop)
  • Garden hose (small section)
  • Photographs.
  • Chart paper
  • Thermometers
  • Model structure with no plant material
  • Online resources on energy conservation and fossil fuels

Materials for Students:

  • aluminum baking pans (at least 5cm deep and 40-50 cm long),
  • Empty 2 liter bottle with cap (prepare cap by drilling small holes so the water comes out evenly),
  • Water supply,
  • Large blocks or other means to raise one end of the pan so that it has a slope
  • Small blocks of wood
  • Large plastic tubs to catch runoff
  • Computers with internet connection
  • Small plants, may be seedlings or tufts of grass with the roots attached and kept moist
  • Craft sticks or other sticks that can be planted into the soil
  • Plastic wrap or other materials that students can experiement with in controlling soil erosion
  • Science notebook for recording ideas, data and conclusions. Students will then transpose their notes to Evernote on the school computers.
  • digital camera to record the erosion test
  • Thermometers
  • Building materials such as cardboard, Popsicle sticks, and small pieces of wood, tape, glue, etc.
  • Small shallow trays
  • Grass or mustard seed and other ground cover seed options
  • Science Journals
  • Soil
  • (Here list, and write a short explanation of the different materials and technology tools you are using in your lessons. Provide an explanation of what the students will be doing with these tools and why they are relevant or good for learning the topic or skills you want to teach.]

The Implementation & Assignments

[There will be three lessons for this unit/project. The first lesson will be Using Plants to Save Energy. They will be able to measure and compare temperatures of different environments, build a small structure with green roof material, observe how plant material affects the temperature inside and learn about how termperature control is connected with energy conservation. They will explore different websites about green roofs. The second lesson is on soil erosion and runoff. In this lesson students will identify some causes and effects of soil erosion, observe erosion results via Google Earth and with their own experiment, and make conclusions about what are the best ways to reduce erosion. Finally the students will create a Venn Diagram explaining the best and worst ways to reduce erosion. The best ways will be in the center and the worst ways on the outside. The third lesson will teach students how to use www.Kerpoof to make a movie with three scenes and at least three characters. about what they have learned in the previous two lessons about the environment. In the movie the students will be collaborating with a partner so they will have the chance to interact with a peer and publish their movie as a team. The students will be applying the knowledge they've gained in the lessons on the environment to generate an original work of expression with a purpose. The students will be assessed on if they created a movie that either showed an area where erosion was a problem and did they identify at least two possible solutions to the problem area; or did they make a movie that illustrates energy conservation using green material and reducting use of fossil fuels. Also students will be evaluated on whether they used three scenes and had at least three characters.

The Lessons

1st Lesson: Using Plants to Save Energy
Grade Level: 4
Overview: This lesson allows students the chance fo explore the concept of how green space helps control temperatures. In winter green materials halp naturally warm areas and therefore less energy is needed. In the summer, green material helps shade and cool areas, which conserve energy. Energy conservation leads to less use of fossil fuels. This is one of the environmental benefits of green space and landscaping.
Students will be able to:
  • Measure and compare temperatures of different envirnonments with various plant material.
  • Build a small structure with green roof material and observe the effects plant material has on temperatures.
  • Link temperature control to energy conservation
Time Frame: 2 sessions
One 45 minute session for Engage and Explore with several days of growth of plants
One 60 minute session for Observations, Explain and Extend.
Teacher Materials: Model Structure with no plant material, thermometers, Online resources on energy conservation:,,,

Student Materials: Thermometers, Recyclable building materials, small shallow trays (approximately 1cm-3cm deep), Grass or mustard seed, soil, computers with internet access, Science Journals.
Classroom Activities:
Session 1
  1. Ask students to share what they know about thermometers and measuring temperatures. Distribute thermometers to students. Allow them to explore using the thermometers to measure various objects and substances in the classroom.
  2. Weather permitting, take students outdoors and ask them to stand in a sunny spot and then in a shady spot. Ask them to predict the temperature differences in the different areas and record these predictions in their science journals.
  3. Students can work in pairs to use thermometers to measure the actual temperatue difference in shade and full sun. Ask students to compare their predictions with the actual measurements.
  4. If going outdoors isn't possible, students may complete the activity in an area with heat lamps and without heat lamps.
  1. Students will use thermometers to measure temperatures of various landscapes and hardscapes around their school community. Encourage students to measure temperatures of asphalt and concrete versus areas with heav plant cover or tall grasses.
  2. Have students to record their results on chart paper in the form of a bar graph so that other classmates can observe the temperature differences.
  3. Students will then work in small cooperative groups to plan and create a mini model of a building or home with green materials and plants on the roof.
a. First, students will use small pieces of wood, cardboard, and popsicle sticks they have contribute from their recycling at home to create a basic structure.
b. Then, students will choose a plant material and grow it on a shallow tray on the roof of their model building. Plant material will take a few days or more to grow.
c. After several days to a week, students will measure temperatures of their model buildings. Students will compare the temperatures in their buildings with other groups in the class. The teacher will have a model with no plant material on it that students can compare to that model as the control.
d. After students have given the plant time to grow indoors, they may take their buildings outdoors and into other environments to observe the effect that this new environment has on the temperature of their buildings.
Session 2:
Observations and Explanation
  1. Several days after the first session, after students have had 15-20 minutes to explore results, gather students as a whole class to summarize their learning and make conclusions. Ask students to explain why controlling temperatures might be an important factor in environmental science. Why would it be important to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. How does plant material aid in using less energy to control the temperature in a house.
  1. Using the computers allow students to further investigate concepts such as energy conservation, the effects of fossil fuels on the environment through online databases such as: and the following websites:,,,
  2. Students will search using keywords like green roof, sustainable living, architecture, energy conservation.
  3. Students will record their notes on their science notebooks; then input them onto

2nd Lesson Soil Erosion and Runoff
Grade Level: 4
Lesson Overview: In this lesson students will investigate the role plants and trees have in preventing soil erosion.
Learning Objectives:
Students will be able to
  • Identify some causes and effects of soil erosion.
  • Observe erosion results made with different materials and draw conclusions about the best ways to reduce erosion.
  • Explain how planting plants and trees; especially native plants can reduce erosion and runoff.
Time Frame:
Two forty-five minute sessions plus one extension and one assessment lesson.
Teacher Materials:
  • Dirt/Soil (clean,dry soil is best for this exercise)
  • Plastic cover sheet for a table
  • Small table fan (only needed as a prop)
  • Garden hose (small section is sufficient)
  • Computer with internet access
  • Smart Board
  • Document camera
  • inexpensive digital camera
Student Materials:
  • Aluminum baking pans (at least 5cm deep and 40cm-40cm long)
  • Empty 2 liter bottle with cap (prepare cap by drilling small holes so that water comes out evenly)
  • Water supply
  • Large blocks or other means to raise one end of the pan so that it has a slope
  • Small blocks of wood (5cm-20cm long, should fit easily within the pan)
  • Large plastic tubs to catch runoff
  • Computers with internet connection
  • Small native plants like moss phlox with roots attached (keep roots moist in a wet paper towel)
  • planted grass tufts
  • mulch
  • Craft sticks
  • Plastic wrap or other materials that students can experiment with in controlling soil erosion.
  • Science notebook for recording ideas, data, and conclusions.
  • Optional: inexpensive digital camera to record the erosion test.
Classroom Activities
  1. Show Students a small pile of loose dirt on a table in the classroom, as well as an oscillating fan, a garden hose, and/or a bucket of water. Ask students to predict what might happen if either of the items were used on this pile of dirt.
  2. Use the computer, document camera and smart board to show students images of erosion on www.GoogleEarth. Show images of the Southwest United States where erosion has formed the landscape. Canyon areas in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Mexico are good locations.
  3. Ask students what might have shaped the rocks.
  4. Ask the following essential questions: a. What events in nature might cause soil or dirt to be moved from one place to another? b. Why is it important for dirt or soil to stay in its place in our natural environment? c. What things can be done to help keep soil in its place?
  5. Give each table a piece of big chart paper. Have students work as a team to record their responses on the chart paper.
  6. After 15 minutes invite students to come up and share the chart paper with responses with the class.
1. This part of the lesson is usually best done outdoors. (Indoors requires a plastic tarp to handle spills) There are a few different options for this exploration, depending on what resources are available to you. The ideal exploration would take place outdoors either on a paved slope or sidewalk. If this is not available, a sloped plot of land where you can temporarily remove the grass magerial would be a good alternative. If neither of these situations are feasible, this exploration can be done with a large aluminum baking pan filled with dirt and propped up to create a slope.
a. Divide students into groups of three or four and ask students to predict what will happen to the soil if they pour water down the slope.
b. Now guide students in using the bottles with perforated caps to pour 2 liters of wather onto the sloped survace mimicking rain. Observe the results.

c. Students should use the digital camera to photograph the before, during, and after part of the experiment. The images can be downloaded and students can add text to them for details. The images can then be projected so everyone can view the data.
1. Have students share the images the took via the main computer smartboard and digital camera.
2. Students should refer back to the essential questions they were intially given and answer the first two. They will then share their ideas about how to prevent erosion in Session 2.
3. Before they leave ask students to look around the school grounds and/or their neighborhood for signs of erosion. Encourage them to think about what may be causing those types of erosion. If they see steep areas where erosion is not taking place ask them think about what is keeping erosion from happening on those hills.

Session 2:
  1. Today, students will try out some ideas for stopping or slowing erosion. They will repeat the soil erosion test, but this time make a different environment on the soil.
  2. Provide them with the variety of materials to try, planted grass tufts, mulch on top of soil, soil with moss phlox or other small plants. Have students predict how the different environments will withstand erosion and then instruct them to run their tests and record their results in their science journals.
  3. Have them take pictures with the digital camera of the 2nd experiment from the same camera angle and location so they can be compared side by side with the baseline test from day 1. Here I think that students may become impatient as they are waiting to use the digital camera. If they have one from home they can use that would lesson the waiting time.
  4. Students can share the results from their group with the whole class after they've uploaded the pictures onto the computer. Then, the class can compare the different materials used and determine the best environment for the least amount of soil erosion.

3rd Lesson, Using Kerpoof to make a movie showing what students have learned about ecology and the environment
Grade level: 4
Lesson Overview:
In this lesson students will apply their existing knowledge about science to generate a movie using a Web 2.0 medium. Students will be instruced to basic computer programming. They will employ Internet navigation to find the Kerpoof website then they will learn how to build scenes, create action, add characters, playback the movie.
Time Frame:
One hour long session; plus one 45 minute assessement session.
Materials for Teacher:
computer with internet access, Smartboard and document camera for projection.
Materials for Students
Computers with internet access
1st Session, Classroom activities:
  • The students will log in to their computers using their passwords. Then they will follow the teacher's search for Kerpoof by going to the Google website on their computers. Students will watch the five minute teacher demonstration of Kerpoof Make a Movie. and a screencast of things to remember about making a movie
    See They will learn that most methods are a two step process; but moving is a three step process. And they will learn how to save their scenes They will be given a checklist of what to include in their movie. They will be asked to:

  • Choose characters and drag them into the playback window and drop them into the scene.
  • Think through and outline their story using prewriting strategies
  • Place yellow waypoints
  • Select methods for characters that they have dragged and dropped onto scene.
  • Add up methods and any pauses between them to make sure their movie will be exactly 30 seconds.
  • Simultaneous methods (things that happen at the same time with characters) won't count toward their thirty seconds.

They can work on this part of the lesson for thirty minutes. For ten minutes after they've created their movie they will test their animation in this ordered manner. First play they just watch it. Second play the watch for parts that didn't turn out or things they want to change. This may include the fade to black happening too soon. Or the timing of the movement or speech may be off. The music may not be what they want. On the third play they write down the changes they want to make. For the next ten minutes if students have changes they want to make they will do so. If they like what they've done so far they can add to their scene. Finally, they will save what they've created so far and click the "Done" button. The last five minutes students will save their work using the pass code that the teacher has for her class that she created through the teacher tools in the Kerpoof website. Then they will log off the computers.

2nd Session Assessment
Students will come in and log into a computer with their password. While they are doing this the teacher is logging into the class kerpoof page. They will search for and find the www.Kerpoof website. They will log into the class page using the special code and they will find their movies. The teacher will let them know that today they will be watching their movies to see if they included all the points required in their checkpoint list. The will also be assessed on if they described what they learned in the science lessons about environmental impact of water runoff and green roofs for conservation.

Student Checklist for Making a Movie using Kerpoof:

Ahart, Melissa, et al. "Linking Up L4L: Web Sites to Support the New AASL Standards in Your Library. Teacher Librarian. 38:3, Feb. 2011, 12-17.
Lesson Plans for Science Retrieved from:
www:// roof (YouTube video Grow a Green Roof and eat it too) (Greenroofs 101 from