Pedagogy in Action > Library > Service-Learning > Examples of Service-Learning Projects > Field Biology

Field Biology, University of Maine-Farmington

Course taught by Nancy Prentiss, University of Maine-Farmington, prentiss@maine.edu. Example compiled by Suzanne Savanick, Science Education Resource Center, ssavanic@carleton.edu.
This material was originally created for Starting Point:Introductory Geology
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.

Summary

This field biology class uses a service-learning project instead of a course term paper. The students worked with 4th and 5th graders at Cascade Brook School (CBS) in Farmington, to teach them skills in wildflower and fern identification, and then to help them implement a nature trail, which will be accessible to the greater Farmington community.

Learning Goals

To further an appreciation for the natural history of our world, while concentrating on plant communities in selected Maine habitats. The purpose is not to learn all the plants available to us, but rather, to learn how to identify them and to recognize some basic plant communities. A second goal is to teach and guide others in the concepts of wildflower identification and conservation.

Context for Use

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Description and Teaching Materials

course syllabus

Teaching Notes and Tips

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Assessment

Course Requirements: A total of 400 points for this 3-credit course will be allocated as follows:
  • HERBARIUM COLLECTION: (200 points) A traditional herbarium collection will be made by preserving, mounting, and Identifying 50 NATIVE species of plants. Details for preparation will be discussed in class. Other options, such as drawings or photographs will be considered as a substitute for the plant herbarium. (Ask me first). The collections will include fifty specimens from the following categories:
    • Herbaceous or woody wildflowers. (30 to 50 species)
    • Ferns. (Up to 20 native, non-endangered species)

      NOTE: NO THREATENED OR ENDANGERED SPECIES, OR ELSE! 50 PTS. DEDUCTED! If you aren't sure if a plant is threatened or not, DON'T pick it! (Check the list) Include only native species from at least 20 different families. No cultivated or introduced species (aliens) allowed. You may use native shrubs, such as a Common Eldeberry, or Shadbush.

  • QUIZZES: (60 points)
    • Terminology for identification of flowering plants (10 points)
    • Terminology for fern identification (10 points)
    • Identification of "mystery plants" (40 points)
  • SERVICE-LEARNING PROJECT: (100points)

    The service-learning component this year replaces the "typical term paper." We will work with 4th and 5th graders at Cascade Brook School (CBS) in Farmington, to teach them skills in wildflower and fern identification, and then to help them implement a nature trail, which will be accessible to the greater Farmington community. Your own learning should be enhanced through the teaching of your new skills to others. This project is being funded by a federal grant awarded by "Learn and Serve America - Corporation for Service-Learning."

    You are expected to participate fully in class workshops, as well as to make commitments on your own time to meet with small groups of CBS students to help them with their designated portion of the nature trail. Finally, you are expected to evaluate your own participation in the service-learning project. Evaluation of your effort will be as follows:

    • My evaluation of your participation with CBS students and in-class (UMF) reflection. (20%)
    • Your self evaluation through your journal and follow-up report. (60%)
    • CBS teacher evaluation of your effectiveness in helping CBS students meet their goals. (20%)
  • JOURNAL (40 points) A journal/notebook will be kept during all class field trips and your own explorations. Include class field notes, work with CBS students, sketches, descriptions of plants, habitats, micro-habitats, family characteristics, plant associations within communities, variations within species, seasonal progression, attitudinal changes, dates and locations of specimen collections, poems, etc. It should be as detailed as possible and although your journal will not be graded for artistry, you should feel free to be creative.

References and Resources