Community, Education, Springfield

Teachers create biodiversity field school at Dorris Ranch

SPRINGFIELD — As a creative experience and to meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Springfield Public Schools last week hosted its first-ever Biodiversity Field Study at historic Dorris Ranch with support from community partners on Oct. 4. 

Over 600 students from Springfield and Thurston high schools participated in this year’s Biodiversity Field Study event. The experience supports students taking NGSS Biology courses. The students explored several essential questions related to ecosystems and biodiversity. 

Instead of using traditional notebooks, students were encouraged to collect field samples, geotag location of items in the field using their phones, and participate in several activities. 

Student groups  also visited three out of the 15 learning stations setup around the ranch.

Students tackled serious environmental questions, such as: how has the land in Lane County changed over time? How is climate change affecting the make-up of Oregon’s forests? How can we measure biodiversity and what does it tell us about the health of ecosystems?

“This has been an incredible group effort to create a hands-on outdoor learning experience for our students that is directly related to our science standards. We hope that participants will come away with a stronger connection to their local ecosystems and a better understanding of the human impact on biodiversity,” said Dara Brennan, science teacher on special assignment at SPS.

The event has been supported by Lane STEM, the area’s STEM Hub (housed within Lane ESD), through grant funds for planning and materials. Willamalane offered the use of Dorris Ranch and many community resources.

Chakris Kussalanant / Springfield Public Schools. Students get up closer with lichens, a plantlike organism that forms a low crusty, leaf-like growth on rocks, walls, and trees.



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