The Water Habitat Global Science Project

This is the beginning of a science WATER HABITAT project that was evolved into youth participatory action research for the students and cycles of action research for their teacher, Kristi Rennebohm-Franz who describes her process of action research. 
Youth Participatory Action Research
Our Water Habitat Story

Second Graders from Sunnyside School in Pullman, Washington (Mrs. Rennebohm Franz's Multiage Primary Class)

We study a pond near our school every school year. The pond is a fresh water pond habitat at a park in our city. At the pond, we see mallard ducks, turtles, fish, dragonflies and black birds. Sometimes, we can see a great blue heron that lives there. We make observations about the wildlife and the water. We take the water temperature and water pH. We send our water temperature and pH to the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) website so scientists can see what is happening at the pond. Sometimes we study the macroinvertebrates to see how clean the pond water is.

We know the history of the pond habitat from the science observations of classes in other school years. A few years ago, the classes' science observations showed that the pond habitat was getting worse and the island in the pond was falling apart. The island is a safe place for ducks to rest and build their nests. The kids at our school talked with the city and gave a presentation to the city about how the pond was changing. They used photos, artwork and digital images from 1993 to 1996 to show how the pond was changing and asked the city to help them restore the island. The city decided to fix the island and clean up the pond. Now the island is big again,, and the ducks have come back to live there. Now, we see ducks all the time now when we go to the pond!

Every time we go to the pond, we take digital pictures of the pond and we take video. We make observations about the ducks, the turtles, the insects, the water and the weather. When we are back in the classroom, we use our digital pictures to make photo journals about our pond observations. You can see our photo journals on our classroom website.

We use the video to make a videotape about the pond. We use our computer to edit, title and narrate the video. Last year we made a tape called "Seasons at the Pond". It shows what the pond is like in fall, winter and spring. The year before the class made a video called "Our Pond Story" that tells how the class helped restore the island and pond.

We use the digital pictures in slide shows to help us write our own pond observations. We watch the slide show when we are typing our reports to help us remember what we saw at the pond.
We send our writing about the pond and our photo journals to other schools around the world to share our water habitat science with them. We like to get email from other schools who are studying their water habitats. We learned about a water habitat in Australia. This year we will use email to share our water habitat observations and learn about water habitats with schools in places like Uganda, Australia, and different places in United States from the schools we do email with. We are learning about oceans, ponds, lakes, streams and rivers. Sometimes, we do video conferences with other places to tell them about our water habitat project and learn about their water habitats. We can do video conferences right here at our school!

We make artwork about our water habitat. And we read lots of books about water habitats! We put our water habitat work on our classroom website at  (link doesnn't work) You can learn all about our water habitat project on the website.

Teacher Notes:
A curriculum has been designed for this Local to Global iEARN Water Habitat: Environmental Science Learning Using New Technologies using the Teaching for Understanding Framework from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. The curriculum can be accessed at: Link not operating
The project is featured on the NCREL teacher Professional Development website at:
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The project was featured in the PBS documentary Digital Divide (2000) as an example of how a school curriculum that bridges the digital divide.
The project is part of an overall environmental science curricula developed by Kristi Rennebohm Franz for which she received the Washington State and National Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Elementary Science in 2001 and part of her whole classroom teaching and learning with new technologies for which she received the 2000 Milken National Educators Award.

Students presented their work to their peers and to city planners  to help find effective strategies to save the population of the ducks and geese and restore their habitat. 

Students used documents from the past and from students who each year took the project to a new cycle.