Teacher Experience: “Zoologist” Task
A Defined STEM Learning Experience From:
Barnett Elementary (UT)
Here’s What We Did:
After reading the book Scat by Carl Hiaasen, as a class we explored the power one person could have to save an endangered species. Using Defined STEM, I searched for a science project to connect with the book and the grade science standards. I discovered the Zoologist performance task and loved the way it gave students choices.
Students or partners, chose an endangered species and engaged in weeks of research, digging deep into everything about their animal of choice: its natural habitat, the reason behind its decline in numbers, how humans have played a role, and the effects on the animal’s habitat and ecosystem. Students did the research and creation on their own with limited support and direction. They were content to find answers to simple questions like “What do they eat?” and “Where do they live?” I intervened to encourage them to dig deeper to answer the bigger questions like “How is the survival of species and their ability to adapt affected by natural and human-induced environmental changes?”
Their final projects aim to inform the public about their chosen endangered species and provide ways in which the community can get involved to help save them. Students chose from the recommended products, which include a flyer, a photostory, a podcast, an electronic billboard, or an editorial article. We presented our products to each other and our neighbor classes.
Why Defined STEM Was the Perfect Fit:
Students enjoyed the freedom to choose their own animal and loved finding information online. Having more time to teach them how to create a product with new and different technology resources got them excited. Having limited time with the students, I really count on them to teach each other. Defined STEM performance tasks get students excited about creating something with what they learn. They look forward to being able to create, and the fact that they get to do it digitally is an added bonus.