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AP Environmental Science High School Programs

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To cater to the needs of different high school programs, the following hands-on, learning experiences are individual activities. To create a program, choose the activities you would like your students to participate in and contact Corina Silva at corina@encenter.org or (949) 645-8489 to book a field trip. Please notify us at least a month prior to the desired date of the program in order to ensure availability. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. Fee = $6.50/student for first two activities, $3.50/student for each additional activity. Minimum 20 students.

Each activity also has suggested companion activities that are similar in nature for a cohesive class, if so desired.

 Biodiversity

Students determine which ecosystems at the ENC have the highest biodiversity by determining sampling and data gathering methodology. Students will then gather their data in different ecosystems throughout the nature center. Once the data is collected, the students will analyze their information and describe the characteristics the ecosystems share. Students discuss the ecological benefits that greater biodiversity provides, and the human and natural activities that result in a loss of biodiversity. Student teams present a practical strategy to reduce the loss of biodiversity. Goes well with: Biodiversity- Tree ID, Ecosystem Survey- Forest, Ecosystem Survey- Wetlands and Ecosystem Survey- Desert

On a hike though the Center students learn to identify different ecosystems, and use a dichotomous key to ID plants and trees. Students make leaf rubbings in their field journal to inventory each ecosystem’s biodiversity after having correctly identified the plant or tree. Goes well with Biodiversity- Ecosystem Comparison, Ecosystem Survey- Forest, Ecosystem Survey- Wetlands, Ecosystem Survey- Desert

One of the ENC’s visions is to give students access to a variation of California ecosystems, each representing the native population through plants that in turn attract native animals. There is a constant battle between the native plants and their invasive cousins which is mirrored with the animals that live at the ENC. Students will catch and study a non-native species, determining what helps it live and thrive in its ecosystem. How does this invasive species specifically affect the food web it is in? What would the ramifications be of a non-native removal? Students will make their own decisions and support their reasoning with evidence. Goes well with Natives vs. Invasives- Plants, Carrying Capacity, Nature Surveyors, Ecosystem Survey-Desert, Ecosystem Survey- Forest, Ecosystem Survey- Wetland, Biodiversity- Ecosystem Comparison.

One of the ENC’s visions is to give students access to a variation of California ecosystems, each representing the native population through plants that in turn attract native animals. There is a constant battle between the native plants and their invasive cousins which is mirrored with the animals that live at the ENC. Students will study an invasive plant species, determining what helps it live and thrive in its ecosystem. How does this invasive species specifically affect the food web it is in? What would the ramifications be of a non-native removal? Students will make their own decisions and support their reasoning with evidence. Goes well with Natives vs. Invasives- Animals, Carrying Capacity, Nature Surveyors, Ecosystem Survey-Desert, Ecosystem Survey- Forest, Ecosystem Survey- Wetland, Biodiversity- Ecosystem Comparison, and Biodiversity- Tree ID.

Ecosystems

Students learn the concept of carrying capacity and participate in a simulation to analyze the interactions between a predator population of coyotes and a prey population of mice. They organize and graph data from the simulation, predicting future populations over several generations, and compare simulation results to data taken from nature. Goes well with Natives vs. Invasives- Animals, Natives vs. Invasives- Plants, Nature Surveyors- Animals, Nature Surveyors- Trees

Students visit an ENC desert. They will test the abiotic factors in the ecosystem to determine how the biotic factors are affected. They discuss the characteristics scientists use to define a desert, what the economic benefits of deserts are, and which human activities degrade them. They observe (and diagram) a desert food web in action. If all three Ecosystem Surveys are done, student teams discuss the effects of fire-suppression, climate change and invasive species on local ecosystems, and present their policies to help protect ecosystems from these threats. The students decide the predominant tree species in three sample plots, and which of the three plots is healthier. Student teams develop and present their ideas for a viable management plans for each of the three plots. Goes well with Ecosystem Survey- Forest, Ecosystem Survey- Wetland, Biodiversity- Ecosystem Comparison, Biodiversity- Tree ID, Natives vs. Invasives- Animals, Natives vs Invasives- Plants, Stupendous Soil, Nature Surveyors, and Carrying Capacity.

Students visit an ENC forest. They will test the abiotic factors in the ecosystem to determine how the biotic factors are affected. They discuss the characteristics scientists use to define a forest, what the economic benefits of forests are, and which human activities degrade them.  They observe (and diagram) a forest food web in action. If all three Ecosystem Surveys are done, student teams discuss the effects of fire-suppression, climate change and invasive species on local ecosystems, and present their policies to help protect ecosystems from these threats. The students decide the predominant tree species in three sample plots, and which of the three plots is healthier.  Student teams develop and present their ideas for a viable management plans for each of the three plots. Goes well with Ecosystem Survey- Desert, Ecosystem Survey- Wetland, Biodiversity- Ecosystem Comparison, Biodiversity- Tree ID, Natives vs. Invasives- Animals, Natives vs Invasives- Plants, Stupendous Soil, Nature Surveyors and Carrying Capacity.

Students visit an ENC wetland.  They will test the abiotic factors in the ecosystem to determine how the biotic factors are affected. They discuss the characteristics scientists use to define a wetland, what the economic benefits of wetlands are, and which human activities degrade them.  They observe (and diagram) a wetland food web in action. If all three Ecosystem Surveys are done, student teams discuss the effects of fire-suppression, climate change and invasive species on local ecosystems, and present their “policies” to help protect ecosystems from these threats. The students decide the predominant tree species in three sample plots, and which of the three plots is healthier.  Student teams develop and present their ideas for a viable management plans for each of the three plots. Goes well with Ecosystem Survey- Forest, Ecosystem Survey- Desert, Biodiversity- Ecosystem Comparison, Biodiversity- Tree ID, Natives vs. Invasives- Animals, Natives vs Invasives- Plants, Stupendous Soil, Nature Surveyors, and Carrying Capacity.

Students will learn and implement the correct techniques necessary in surveying animals. They will work with tools to measure and identify the species of animals in the nature center. Students will gather and interpret data before comparing it to previous data recorded at the ENC. Students will try to account for any large differences in data and will calculate the carrying capacity of the nature center for the species they observed. Goes well with Nature Surveyors- Plants, Carrying Capacity, and Natives vs Invasives- Animals.

Students will learn and implement the correct techniques necessary in surveying trees. They will work with tools to measure the height and width of trees, comparing different types of trees that grow within the nature center. Students will search for the tallest and widest tree in the nature center, and gather its data to verify if their data is comparable to our own. Students will then discuss how long to let a tree grow in such a public place and decide if there is a need for pruning or removal for safety, and what repercussions they might be. Goes well with Nature Surveyors- Animals, Biodiversity- Ecosystem Comparison, Biodiversity- Tree ID, Natives vs. Invasives- Plants, Paleclimatology- Tree Rings and Stupendous Soil.

Students test the ENC’s soil and take core samples. They compare it to soils from around the United States, and measure the percolation rate, porosity, pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels of soils in different ecosystems in the Center (i.e. Desert vs. Redwood Forest). Student teams make suggestions on what could be done to remediate poor soil to make it good for plant growth, and Naturalists address the wisdom of altering native soils. Goes well with Ecosystem Survey- Desert, Ecosystem Survey- Forest, Ecosystem Survey- Wetland, and Paleoclimatology- Lake Sediments.

Energy & Sustainability

The ENC is currently looking to build a new net zero preschool on a recently acquired, adjacent property. Students will look into what net zero truly means and discuss what is needed for a net zero certification. Students will then hike through the center to get to the property, where they will survey the site, determine what is needed, and plan a building. They will use the property, its landscape, and measurements to design their own net zero building. Students will determine the pros and cons of each idea before comparing it against a blueprint for the ENC’s own plans for the building. Goes well with Green Building Tour, Energy Audit, EV vs. ICE

Students perform an energy audit on the ENC’s LEED Platinum Certified building by calculating the energy the building creates and measuring and calculating the energy used. Students will then determine a gross energy usage for the building before comparing their calculations against numbers from a representative month. They will graph the types of energy used and see where the ENC can improve energy usage, and how close to net zero it really is. Goes well with Designing a Net Zero Building, EV vs. ICE, Green Building Tour

Students compare the electric car to the more traditional internal combustion engine. They study the ENC’s electric car and charging station, measure how much electricity it takes to fill a tank and compare that to a car that uses gas in the parking lot. Students will then calculate how much it costs, using a mpg and mpe analysis. Students will then weigh the other consideration for purchasing an electric car or internal combustion engine (cost of car, cost of upkeep, environmental costs, etc.) before dividing into two groups to debate the pros and cons of each. Students will finish by deciding which car they would choose and support their decision through concrete evidence. Goes well with Designing a Net Zero Building, Energy Audit, and Green Building Tour.

Being green is becoming more important to homeowners, businesses and schools, but what exactly does that mean and where do you begin? Students will join us for a tour of the ENC’s new green Learning Center — the first building to achieve LEED Platinum status in Orange County. Students will learn what being green is all about and how to make their home and school more environmentally friendly, reduce their carbon footprint and incorporate renewable energy. Goes well with Designing a Net Zero Building, Energy Audit and EV vs ICE.

Paleoclimatology

Paleoclimatology looks at the changes in climate through vestiges left by the Earth. Students will gather, interpret, and compare the meanings of the sediments in the lakes and rivers at the ENC. With the samples, students will read what the sediments tell us. They will create a short story telling us what their group thinks happened with evidence to support their claims. Students will examine some fossils and core samples from across Orange County to look at what they learned in a larger scope. Goes well with Paleoclimatology- Tree Rings, Stupendous soil, Ecosystem Survey- Desert, Ecosystem Survey- Forest, and Ecosystem Survey- Wetland.

Paleoclimatology looks at the changes in climate through vestiges left by the Earth. Students will gather, interpret, and compare the meanings of the rings in various sections of tree. Students will read what the rings tell us and create a short story expanding upon what their group thinks happened with evidence to support their claims. Students will then try to match the tree sections to trees in the nature center, explaining how they know which tree it is and where it’s located. Goes well with Paleoclimatology- Lake Sediments, Biodiversity- Ecosystem Comparison, Biodiversity- Tree ID, Natives vs Invasives- Plants, Nature Surveys- Trees and Stupendous Soil.

Traveling Naturalist Programs

A 60-minute assembly. In this exciting program, students see live birds of prey up close. As ornithologists, they will compare and contrast the traits and adaptations of hawks, falcons, owls, and other birds of prey. Students will play games and participate in hands-on activities, gaining knowledge that will aid them in playing our “Raptorology 101” game show. Assembly ONLY. Tuition: $385/1st assembly, $100 for each additional assembly on the same day. (Up to 150 students per assembly). This program has an extra mileage fee of $35.

A 60-minute program offered to Junior High and High School students. The CLIMATE REALITY presentation helps us understand our roles as humans in taking positive action for improving the way we interact and use our world’s resources. This presentation by Michael Winters, instructor with the San Gabriel Unified School District for 12 years, stimulates action-oriented dialog to empower real, local action. Droughts, floods, heat waves, insect outbreaks, wildfires, and sea level rise – we are encountering the reality of our changing climate every day. This latest presentation developed by Al Gore and the Climate Reality project highlight the extreme weather events of the past couple years and connects their increased frequency and intensity to anthropogenic climate change. The majority of the worlds’ scientists agree that burning of fossil fuels is changing the climate. There are those who would like to plant the seed of doubt about this reality. This new presentation will use scientific data to debunk the myths and misinformation being presented. Solutions are the final piece of the presentation; hopefully leaving everybody with the hope and inspiration that together we can turn the situation around and leave a better planet for future generations. Assemblies, $285/1st assembly (up to 150 students) $100 for each assembly thereafter on the same day.

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