Ecology comes to life with eco‑columns

As part of “Diversity of Life” science standards, Ann Rougier’s 10th Grade Biology class at Stivers School for the Arts combined corn and ecology. Her students planted two corn seeds in eco-column terrariums along with three other types of seeds of their choice. As the corn grew, the roots entered the aquarium portion of the eco-column. In some cases, this provided a balance needed for the fish and snails in the aquarium. Others of the systems were not balanced and the fish died. Those groups did chemical water tests for dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrate, and phosphates.

Rougier wanted her students to understand the concept that “space is a resource”. She had the students “over plant” the terrarium, knowing that soon the corn would require more space and fight for nutrients in the soil, water demands, etc. As the corn grew, the class did the corn dissection activities.

The eco-columns were very popular with the students, Rougier said. Their comments included, “This is the most fun I have had in a science class” and “This is a cool project.” Rougier said the parents were particularly curious during open house!

Next, Rougier plans to test the soil for nutrient content of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. She plans to reinforce this activity with articles about Grand Lake St. Mary’s algal bloom and the lesson on the use of Lawn Chemicals.

Rougier attended the Ohio Corn and Wheat-sponsored Feed the World workshop this summer. She said the FTW workshop gave her exposure to new or less-familiar content. She said, “I highly recommend the workshop to other teachers, because it gives us new ideas and a group of colleagues to run old and new ideas by. And of course, the supplies and equipment are awesome!”

And there’s more corn science coming up: “We are growing corn in drywall buckets per the student’s request. They are so excited!”