Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - Thursday, March 13, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company

Houston County Courier - March 2008

By CJH Journalism Class
Dr. Allan Sowards returned to Crockett Elementary School Friday, March 7, and helped 5th graders create ecosystems for the recently initiated science project.
Made from three 2-liter bottles, the ecosystems can support a small habitat where a population of a fish and a plant will live.  Later, roly-polys, crickets, snails, earthworms, frogs, grasshoppers, worms and other small living things will be introduced into the bottles.
Dr. Sowards explained how a population of living organisms of the same kind interact and form a community.  The community of living things interacts with the non-living world around it to form the ecosystem, a natural unit consisting of all plants, animals and micro-organisms in an area functioning together with all of the non living physical factors of the environment.
The habitat must supply the needs of organisms, such as food, water, temperature, oxygen, and minerals.  The terrariums are places where several populations peacefully co-exist in the same habitat. 
Habitats must supply water for all living things to survive; their needs are met through the water cycle.  Dr. Sowards used vocabulary words such as precipitation and evaporation to explain this process.
Examples of varying sizes of ecosystem include among others, aquatic ecosystem, coral reef, desert, human ecosystem, rainforest, and tundra.  Ecosystems can be as small as a puddle or the size of the liter bottle terrariums or as large as the Earth itself.
Dr. Sowards humorously related how he came to have enough "fish" for each child's ecosystems.  The minnows in the miniature but self-sufficient ecosystems were seined from a barrow ditch early Friday morning and collected by Dr. Sowards during the cold and snowy weather.
Curriculum facilitator Marie Massingill dropped a fish into each student's finished product after the professor's lecture.
These fifth graders' part of the project is to build the ecosystem and plant flowers for the butterfly garden. Butterflies from second graders and first graders will supply the frogs that will be released in the 5th grade ecosystems once all the components are ready for completion.
The journalism class of Crockett Junior High will continue reporting on the progress and various stages of this unique learning situation at CES.
Photos by Rachel Shroyer and Chelsea Gest



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