Ecological Dilemmas - Problem based Learning

Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites. ~William Ruckelshaus Business Week, 18 June 1990

dead birds

The choices we make impact ecosystems. Development is an obvious example of an impact. But there are many others.

Here are a few examples of how people impact wetlands: Runoff of lawn fertilizers & pesticides, winter salting of roads, sidewalks & parking lots, automatic dishwasher detergent, clothes washing detergent, grey water systems, discarded cigarette butts, medications in the potable water supply , soil erosion, mine drainage, careless dumping, weed and insect control programs, dioxins, waterway dredging, mercury toxins, flood control measures, glycol runoff, lead shot for hunting and lead sinkers for fishing, oil & chemical spills, West Nile Virus control programs, feeding wild animals - A Vicious Cycle, releasing alien species into the wild, and dams in waterways. General Ecology website

blue arrow Select one of these actions. (If there is another one that is of particular local interest, you may investigate it)

Describe the action.

Explain the issue including its ecological impact. Show several sides of the argument.

Identify alternatives that achieve the goals of people, while minimizing or perhaps eliminating the negative impact.

Decide: Should the change be made?

How - by law, by regulation or by individual personal choice?


blue arrow Extend your efforts - Make a VE video about the issue.
(VE Rating - Very educational making a strong use of data and critical thinking skills.)

Excellent examples: Requiem for the Honeybee from Charles Greene CSPAN Student Cam project

Down to the Last DROP from Madison Richards CSPAN Student Cam project


Extend your thinking:

blue arrow Competition Conundrums - Two wetland birds are presenting challenges.

Investigate one of the issues. What are some solutions? Double Crested Cormorants - OR - Canada Goose


cattails Wetlands: Habitat / Mammals / Birds / Aquatic insects / Plants & trees / Amphibians

Wetland Vocabulary Exercise / Wetland food web / Map PA Waters / Make a schematic representation

Eagles Status Evaluation / Competition Conundrum / Lentic ecosystem or Lotic ecosystem?

Wetland or frog song activity / Wetland Poem Project / Water & Watershed Studies / Water Wars

Bats are our Buddies / Bats at the Beach Activity / Monitor Wetland

Map Wetlands in your Community / Pennsylvania HS Envirothon

School Habitat Garden Project


Internet Hunts / Puzzles and Projects / Plants and People / Problem based Learning / Habitat Garden / Nature / Home

Posted 9/2008 by Cynthia J. O'Hora Updated 3/2009

tree icon Save a tree - use a digital answer format - Highlight the text. Copy it. Paste it in a word processing document. Save the document in your folder. Answer on the word processing document in an easily read, contrasting color or font. (No yellow, avoid fancy fonts like: Symbols, broad font, dear font). Save frequently as you work. Enter your name and the date in a document header. Submit the assignment via a class dropbox or an email attachment. Bad things happen. Save a copy of your document in your computer.

Proof your responses. It is funny how speling errors and typeos sneak in to the bets work. smiling icon Make your own printer paper answer sheet

Pennsylvania Science Anchors
S.A.3. Systems, Models, and Patterns
S4.B.3.2 Biological Sciences Describe, explain, and predict change in natural or human-made systems and the possible effects of those changes on the environment.
S4.B.3.3 Biological Sciences Identify or describe human reliance on the environment at the individual or the community level.

Pennsylvania Science & Technology Standards and Ecology & Environment Standards

Science NetLinks Benchmark 5 - The Living Environment - How living things function and interact. A. Diversity of Life
"One of the most general distinctions among organisms is between plants, which use sunlight to make their own food, and animals, which consume energy-rich foods. Animals and plants have a great variety of body plans and internal structures that contribute to their being able to make or find food and reproduce. All organisms, including the human species, are part of and depend on two main interconnected global food webs."

D. Interdependence of Life - " In all environments freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain, and others organisms with similar needs may compete with one another for resources, including food, space, water, air, and shelter.

Aligned with Pennsylvania Academic Standards: Reading, Writing, Science & Technology, Ecology & Environment, Mathematics, Geography, Career.

Aligned with National Academic Standards: Technology, Science, Geography.