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The Science Teacher





In this classroom, high-school biology students learned how pine beetle outbreaks in North America have become some of the worst in a decade. To make sense of this phenomenon, students created iterative models with in-depth explanations over the course of the unit. These models were formative in developing students’ conceptual understanding of ecology and applying their knowledge to a real-world context. The models showed students the detrimental effects of the outbreaks and helped them wonder about efforts to manage them and preserve the forests. This allowed the teacher to connect their learning to an ecological engineering task. This task pushed students to research various solutions and preventative measures scientists, engineers, or foresters might use to help forests recover from pine beetle attacks. Students used this information along with their models and explanations to write an engineering proposal to states who have never encountered the beetles before. From this unit, the teacher was easily able to connect and transition into an engineering activity in the biology classroom through creating in-depth models and explanations; and students were provided with clear, explicit connections between science and engineering.



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