Environmental Study at Argyle Lake

Babylon Junior High School students had the chance to perform a qualitative and quantitative analysis of organisms found in Argyle Lake as part of their research studies in the school’s Foundations of Science 7 class. Working in small groups and as a whole class, the students completed a three-week unit that focused on measuring the biodiversity of the lake. The unit of study both implemented the newly released Next Generation Science Standards and incorporated Common Core reading and math skills.

In class, the students created leaf packets, which were comprised of nylon mesh bags full of dried leaves. In follow-up classes, the students placed these packs in the lake, where they acted as habitats for organisms. After several days, the students retrieved their packs and began investigating the kinds of organisms found within them. Using keys to identify organisms and supplemental resources such as readings, diagrams and sorting cards, the students grouped and classified the organisms and described their interactions with the abiotic and biotic environment before assessing the current state of Argyle Lake’s biodiversity.

“This was a challenging but fun unit,” said teacher Mary Beth Schappert. “The field testing technique that we are using – the placement of leaf packs at the bottom of the lake – is new to field biologists and ecologists. It gained popularity last year when scientists used leaf packs to study the effects of the transoceanic highway corridor construction in South America on freshwater rivers and streams. The goal of the lesson is to teach the students about the importance of local biodiversity issues and also promote enthusiasm for science research.”