Using Ponds Containing Native Fishes to Teach Fundamental Ecological Concepts to High School Students
Four Arizona high schools have ponds built on their campuses stocked with Gila Topminnow or Desert Pupfish, both native species. Current science teachers rarely use the ponds due to a lack of aquatic curricula. We designed a curriculum that meets Arizona’s new science standards (Next Generation Science Standards) and helps teachers use the ponds. Students will collect and access pond data to create graphs, observe variations, make predictions, and use statistics to describe the small aquatic world at their school. Our curriculum allows students to create their own experiments based on observations with an emphasis on the importance of natural resources. Ponds emphasize that resources are limited, just like in our larger world. Students will complete a population estimate for the pond and discuss how limiting factors can change the population number and the carrying capacity. In order to determine the effectiveness of the pond, only half of the students will visit the pond in person. The other students will use videos and pictures of the pond during the lesson. The lesson ends with comparing and contrasting the fishpond and plant Earth and discussing limiting resources of Earth. The use of pre- and post-tests will determine the difference between the two groups of students and the knowledge they gain. A curriculum was developed, and a final paper for a non-thesis master’s degree was prepared. Covid 19 prevented in-person tests and work with classrooms.