Santa Cruz Outdoor Science School Curriculum Outline by wac15700


									                                Santa Cruz Outdoor Science School
                                       Curriculum Outline

I. Solar System + Astronomy – The solar system consists of the sun and a group of celestial bodies (planets,
asteroids, moon, and comets) which are held by the sun’s attraction (gravity) and revolve around the sun.
        A. Galaxies – assemblies of one million to hundreds of billions of stars held together by gravity that
        slowly revolve around a center. Most galaxies, including the Milky Way, have a massive black hole in
        the center. All of the objects (stars/planets) we see in the sky at night are within our Milky Way Galaxy.
        The only exception is the Andromeda Galaxy, over 2 million light years away, which appears as a
        distant cloud of light near the Great Square of Pegasus.
        B. Constellations – a group of stars identified by distinct patterns and have a name that is linked to its
        shape. Names were often derived from Greek mythology.
        C. Planets – celestial bodies, large enough to have become round due to its own gravity (larger than an
asteroid or comet) that orbits a star, does not shine on its own and dominates the neighborhood around its
orbit. The planets in our solar system include Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and
Neptune. Pluto has recently been reclassified as a dwarf planet and is no longer classified as a planet.
        D. Stars – a large celestial body composted of hot gases which emit electromagnetic radiation in the
        form of light as a result of nuclear fusion inside the star (hydrogen fusing to create helium). Our own
        star is our sun.
                 1. Stars shine from their own light while planets reflect the light of the sun.
                 2. Our sun is the largest body in the solar system and is composed primarily of hydrogen and

II. Ecosystem – A localized group of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) elements within an area and the
interaction among them. Ecosystems studied at the Santa Cruz Outdoor Science School include, redwood
forest, riparian woodland, grassland and Manzanita/blue brush chaparral.
         A. ABC’s
                1. Abiotic or non-living organisms included Land, Air, Water and Sunlight. The non-living
                components are the L.A.W.S. of the ecosystem.
                2. Biotic or living organism include animals, plants, fungus and bacteria
                       a. Producer – organisms (plants) that get their energy through the process of
                       b. Consumer - organisms (animals) that get their energy from consuming other
                                i. Herbivores – animals that eat only plants
                                ii. Carnivores – animals that eat only meat
                                iii. Omnivores – animals that eat both meat and plants
                       c. Decomposer – organisms that get their energy from eating dead material. The
                       digestive waste of decomposers add nutrients to the soil.
                                i. FBI – Fungus, Bacteria, Invertebrates
                3. Cultural factors in an ecosystem include those that don’t occur naturally (human induced
                elements such as roads, fences, power lines, etc).

       C. Habitat – An environment in which an animal can live and survive that provides Food, Water,
       Shelter and Space. (The Four Ways Species Survive in their habitat).

       D. Populations – are the number of the same animals and plants that live within a community. The
       focus is on the resource needs of individual species, group behaviors, population growth and population
               1. Species – a group of like animals and plants that can reproduce offspring
               2. Niche – an organism’s unique role (or job) it has in an ecosystem
               3. Carrying Capacity – the greatest number of animals (within a species or in total) that an area
               can support with sufficient food, water, shelter and space.
               4. Fluctuations are increases and decreases of populations and are caused by
                       a. Limiting Factors – amount of food, water, shelter, space available
                       b. Reproduction Rate
                       c. Disease and Predation – a disease can spread rapidly across a densely populated area,
                       especially across the same members of species. If predatory animals are thriving,
                       naturally, the populations of their prey species will begin to dwindle.
                       d. Human Intervention – development within environments (roads, building, landscapes)
                       e. Natural Catastrophes – earthquakes, floods, landslides, etc.

       E. Communities – are made up of the organisms that live in a particular area and depend on each other
       for survival. Communities are formed around the concept of interdependence – living organisms depend
       on one another and on their environment for survival.
               1. Predation – the process of one animal hunting for and feeding upon another
               2. Prey (n) – an animal that is a food source for another animal
               3. Competition – different kinds of organisms may play similar ecological roles in similar
               biomes and compete for food, water, shelter, space.
               4. Food Chain – the linear transfer of food energy from sunlight to plants and through a series of
               organisms connected in a predatory/prey relationship. The number of ‘links’ in a food chain is
               usually 4 or 5. The food chain is part of a much broader structure known as the food web.
               5. Food Web – composted of interconnecting food chains. Having a variety of food sources
               gives an animal a greater chance of survival.

III. Weather – state of the air or atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, wetness or dryness, calm or storm,
clarity or cloudiness. The radiant light from the sun heats the earth unevenly causing air to rise and fall and
create weather patterns.
        A. Convection Currents - circular currents or movement within a liquid or gas (in this case, the
        atmosphere) due to different densities of the hotter and cooler parts.
        B. Air Pressure – the force exerted by the weight of the air. It is not the same everywhere. Adding
        more molecules to an area will increase air pressure while taking air molecules away will decrease air
        pressure. This applies to weather in the heating and cooling of the atmosphere. Warm air molecules
        move faster, spread out and decrease pressure while cold air molecules move slower, pack closer
        together and increase pressure.
        C. Relative Humidity – is the amount of water vapor the air is holding relative to the amount it could
        hold at that temperature. When relative humidity reaches 100% the air cannot hold any more water and
        clouds, dew or fog will result. The most common cause of this is a drop in temperature as colder air
        (molecules moving slower and packed together) can hold less moisture than warmer air (molecules
        moving fast and spread out).
        D. Wind – air flowing from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure.
        E. Clouds – air temperatures are lower at higher elevations. When warm, moist air rises high enough to
        cool off the moisture will condense around tiny particles of dust, salt, pollen or pollution to form clouds.
        F. Precipitation – most precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, hail and drizzle) begins from clouds that are very
        cold. When moisture molecules become heavy enough by combining to form larger droplets, the

       droplets fall to the ground. The temperature of the atmosphere determines the type of precipitation that

IV. Vascular and Non-Vascular Plant Systems
       A. Vascular Plant – a plant with a specialized conducting system for transport of water and nutrients.
              1. Includes ‘familiar’ plants such as trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses.
              2. The xylem and phloem make up the vascular plant system. The xylem transports nutrients
              and water from the roots to the rest of the plant and the phloem transports glucose from the
              leaves to the rest of the plant.
       B. Non-Vascular Plant – plants without a vascular system. They have no roots and absorb water
       through membranes. Examples are mosses and algae.
       C. Photosynthesis – sunlight, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, water and chlorophyll in the leaves
       combine to create glucose in the leaves and emit oxygen as a waste product.
       6CO2 +6H2O = C6H12O6 + 6O2

V. Watershed – the whole region or area contributing to the supply of a river or lake; drainage area; the area
drained by a river or river system; a ridge dividing one drainage area from another; a divide.
       A. Water Cycle – evaporation/transpiration (water leaving plants), condensation, precipitation,
       accumulation/percolation (water percolating into the soil),
       B. Water usage and conservation – at outdoor school, turning water off while brushing teeth, soaping up
       hands, taking 4 minute showers.

I. Leave No Trace – 7 Principles
       A. Plan ahead and prepare
       B. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
       C. Dispose of waste properly (pack it in, pack it out) (Pack your trash)
       D. Leave what you find
       E. Minimize campfire impacts
       F. Respect wildlife
       G. Be considerate of other visitors

IV. Resources: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
       A. Renewable Resource – a naturally occurring substance that is economically valuable that has the
       ability to regenerate at regular intervals and maintain its stock quantity. Examples: sun, wind, trees,
       B. Non-Renewable Resource - Any naturally occurring substance that is economically valuable, but
       which forms over such a long period of time that for all practical purposes it cannot be replaced.
       Examples: fossil fuels (natural gas, coal, oil) and minerals.

V. Compost – decomposed organic plant and animal matter that can be used as a soil fertilizer
     A. Fungus, Bacteria and Insects (The FBI) – consume dead organisms. Work to disassemble the cells
     and structures that made up the living organism. In the process of breaking down dead plant and animal
     tissue, decomposers not only gain energy to drive their own life processes, but release nutrients back to
     the environment, where they can be used again by other organisms.
     B. Vermicompost – Using red worms in a ‘worm bin’ to decompose organic plant matter into nutrient
     rich soil
             1. How an earthworm digests - it eats dirt, digesting the plant and animal matter in the dirt and
             then eliminates the rest. It has an esophagus for the food to go down, a crop to store the food in, a

               gizzard that grinds the food down, intestines for the food to pass through and take out nutrients
               and an anus for the waste to come out. The waste creates nutrient rich soil!

I. Inquiry Cycle – The Scientific Method - a system of techniques for investigating phenomena and acquiring
new knowledge, as well as for correcting and integrating previous knowledge.
       A. Question – I wonder why…
       B. Hypothesis – an educated guess, usually a guess to answer the question
       C. Experiment – testing the hypothesis
       D. Observation – making observations during the experiment and recording any other observations
       relevant to the hypothesis
       E. Conclusion – determining if the hypothesis was proven to be true or false and interpreting results…
       F. More Questions…

II. Nutrient Cycle – The process in which nutrients cycle through the food chain and then back into the soil
through decomposition of biotic organisms.
        A. Producers
               1. Plants that make their own food (glucose) using sunlight through the process of
               2. Primary source of energy and matter entering most food chains
        B. Consumers
               1. Primary Consumers – herbivores, consume plant matter
               2. Secondary Consumers – carnivores/omnivores, consume plants and other animals
        C. Decomposers
               1. Fungus, Bacteria, Invertebrates
               2. Add nutrients to the soil through consumption/digestion of dead matter (plants and animals)
               3. Nutrients added to the soil make it possible for plants to grow.

III. Water Cycle – The process in which the earth’s fixed water supply is continually collected and redistributed.
       A. Evaporation happens when the sun’s radiant energy heats up the water molecules to create vapor.
       Transpiration is the process of the absorption of water by plants, usually through the roots, the
       movement of water through plants, and the loss of the water to the atmosphere through small openings
       on the underside of leaves called stomata.
       B. As the water molecules rise in the atmosphere they cool and Condensation occurs to create clouds.
       C. Precipitation occurs when the moisture molecules in clouds become heavy enough to drop. (See
       D. Water then accumulates (Accumulation) in lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans, puddles, etc. Percolation
       also occurs when water is absorbed into the soil and filters down to the aquifer (an underground bed or
       layer of earth, gravel, or porous stone that yields water)
       E. 97% of the earth’s water is salt water contained in the oceans. 3% of the earth’s water is fresh. 2%
       of the fresh water is trapped in the polar ice caps and in ground water (and in the water cycle). 1% of
       the earth’s water is available for consumption

IV. Rock Cycle – The sequence of events by which rocks are initially formed, altered, destroyed, and reformed
as a result of magmatism, erosion, sedimentation, and metamorphism. There are three stages of rock in the rock
        A. Igneous – originated from magma which cools and becomes solid. If magma cools slowly, large
        crystals are formed and granite rock is the result. When magma cools quickly the crystals are very
        small and lava rock is the result. Obsidian or volcanic glass has cooled extremely rapidly and
        contains no crystals at all.
       B. Metamorphic - rocks transformed from one form to another by intense heat, intense pressure, or
       the action of hot fluids. In other words, metamorphism changes the size, shape, texture, color, and/or
       mineralogy of a rock, thus creating a new rock with different characteristics. Since metamorphic rocks
       are altered forms of pre-existing rocks, every metamorphic rock has a parent rock. The parent rock is the
       type of rock that was metamorphosed. Parent rocks can be any of the three rock types (metamorphic
       rocks can be metamorphosed again into a new metamorphic rock).
       C. Sedimentary – approx. 75% of the rocks on the earth’s surface. Sedimentary rocks formed when
       sediments are compressed together or hardened. Sediments are loose grains such as rock fragments,
       parts of plants or animals, and rust which are produced by chemical and physical weathering (see
       geologic processes). Sediments are often carried around by wind and water until they are eventually
       deposited elsewhere in layers. Sedimentary rocks form by three main processes: compaction,
       cementation, and precipitation. For example, sand can be compacted until it is pressure-hardened into
       sandstone, or sandstone can form when sand grains are cemented together by chemical residues or
       crystals that have intergrown and are precipitated by water, (left after water has evaporated. Examples;
       gypsum and rock salt)

I. Geologic Processes – The earth, from its core to surface topography is in a state of perpetual change. The
impetus of plate tectonics is the vehicle for much of the change we observe in the form of geomorphic features
(mountain ranges, valleys, canyons, etc) and through geologic events (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, erosions,
landslides, etc).
        A. Plate Tectonics - A geological model in which the Earth's lithosphere (crust and uppermost mantle)
        is divided into a number of more-or-less rigid segments which move in relation to one another.
        Movement of the plates results in earthquakes and mountain formation.
        B. Layers of the earth
                1. Atmosphere – gaseous layer consisting of the troposphere (closest to the crust, where weather
                takes place) and stratosphere (ozone layer, the layer that absorbs the sun’s harmful rays)
                2. Lithosphere – The rigid outer layer of the Earth, consisting of the crust and the solid,
                outermost layer of the upper mantle. 3-25 miles thick
                3. Mantle - the layer in the structure of the Earth that lies directly under the Earth's crust and
                above the Earth's outer core. Made up of molten rock. Convection currents occur as the molten
                rock cools and descends towards the outer core then heats up and rises towards the crust. The
                temperature of the mantle ranges from 1600 degrees Fahrenheit at the top to 4000 degrees
                Fahrenheit closer to the center. 1800 miles thick
                4. Outer core – made up of iron and nickel in a liquid state. 1400 miles thick
                5. Inner core – solid, almost entirely composed of iron under so much heat and pressure that the
                metals are not able to move about like a liquid. About 800 miles thick.
        D. Shaping of the earth – mountains are formed through the process of plate tectonics and volcanic
        activity. They are broken down and shaped through the process of weathering and erosion.
                1. Weathering – the breakdown of rocks from physical forces (wind + water abrasion, frost
                wedging, root action, etc) and/or chemical forces (oxidation and acids).
                2. Erosion – the process of physically removing weathered materials. With the help of gravity,
                erosion is caused by running water, wind, glacial activity and human impact.

II. Adaptation – adaptations are special characteristics that enable plants and animals to succeed and survive in
their community. They are changes made in individual species that occur over evolutionary time.

III. Ecological Succession – the gradual and sequential change of dominant plant and animal community over a
given time. For example, an area may make a change from bare rock to full-fledged forest based on a series of
connected changes. Landslide, fire and logging are all examples of disturbances that may initiate succession.
I. Solar Radiation – the sun reaches our earth through radiation (electromagnetic waves that transport energy
through space). In other words, the energy from the sun is radiated through space to our planet without the aid
of fluids or solids. Solar radiation is the sole reason we are able to exist on this planet. It provides a necessary
ingredient for photosynthesis to occur in plants and warms our planet to just the right temperature for plant and
animal existence.

II. Photosynthesis – See vascular and non-vascular plant systems

III. Energy Transfer – energy is transferred from one object to another through either convection, conduction,
radiation or any combination of the three.
        A. Convection – the transfer of heat by the actual movement of the warmed gas or liquid. As the gas or
        liquid molecules are heated, they rise then cool and fall. This creates a convection current. Convection
        currents play an important role in weather and in plate tectonics.
        B. Conduction – the transfer of energy through matter from particle to particle. It is most common in
        solids (metals) but can happen in fluids. A spoon getting hot from sitting in a bowl of hot soup is an
        example of conduction.
        C. Radiation – electromagnetic waves that directly transport energy through space without the aid of
        fluids or solids. The energy from sunlight travels to earth through radiation.
        D. Energy transfer in ecosystems – energy moves through the food chain starting with photosynthesis
        and continuing through the process of primary and secondary consumption. As energy moves through
        the food chain some is lost in the form of heat at each level. Energy transfer is different than the nutrient
        cycle. As nutrients are cycled back into the soil through the process of decomposition, energy is
        ultimately lost in the form of heat in the atmosphere.

I. Interdependence – the concept that everything relates to everything else in an ecosystem. The interactions
within the ecosystem can be between non-living things (the amount of water in the air determines the relative
humidity), living things (a bird builds a nest in a tree), or living and non-living things (the frog lives in the
water). Everything in an ecosystem relates to everything else either directly or indirectly and usually in more
than one way. Interdependence is dynamic; the relationships are constantly changing as the various components

II. Community – See ecosystems

I. Biodiversity - the diversity of plant and animal life in a particular habitat (or in the world as a whole). A high
level of biodiversity is desirable. At the ecosystem level, biodiversity provides the conditions and drives the
processes that sustain the global economy – and our very survival as a species. The benefits and services
provided by ecosystems include, maintenance of soil quality, air quality and water quality, pest control,
detoxification and decomposition of waste, pollination, climate stabilization, prevention of natural disasters,
provision and food security, provision of health care and generation of income.

II. Nocturnal Animals – animals that are primarily active at night.
        A. Nocturnal animals have special adaptations that help them to thrive while active at night.
               1. Vision – nocturnal animals have more rod cells (detecting shape and movement) than cone
               cells (detecting color). They have an extra layer in the back of their eye called the tapetum that
               reflects light and therefore allows more light to the rod cells.
      2. Hearing – nocturnal animals often have larger, cupped and hairy ears to help trap sound.
      Owls have two, uneven holes for ears (one on each side of their head) for triangulation.
      3. Smell - most nocturnal mammals have nasal passages that are large and folded in a way that
      increases the sensory surface paired with an expanded olfactory nerve tract to process the
      information. In many mammals there is a specialized region in the back of the mouth, the
      vomeronasal organ that allows the animal to detect some odors through their mouth.
B. Diurnal – primarily awake and active during the day
C. Crepuscular – primarily awake and active during dawn and dusk


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