Open to all Middle and High School Classes
Division I – 6th – 8th grade
Division II – 9th – 12th grade
Due: January 25, 2013
Table of Contents
- The Challenge
- Range of Activities
- Essential Questions
- Student Outcomes
- Evaluation Rubric
- Curricular Goals
Let’s imagine that the State of Maine (or your local State) would like to update its biological survey to be more engaging and accessible to the public. They’re considering creating short documentary videos about the rise and fall of different species in Maine, in order to show their audience the ever-evolving biodiversity of the state.
Here’s what your team needs to do:
- Choose a local plant or animal that has experienced a significant population growth or decline over the past 50 years.
- Hint: You might want to focus on new/introduced/invasive species or threatened/endangered species.
- Research history of the species in Maine, using at least two different media formats – the Internet, newspaper, magazine, or book (keep in mind Field Guides).
- Create a two to three minute documentary about the past, present, and predicted future of your chosen species in Maine.
- The documentary must contain interviews from ‘subject matter experts’ or other people in your community who can help tell the story (Division II: two interviews, Division I: one interview).
- Division II only – If there are negative ramifications to the health of the biodiversity, include possible solutions to the potential problem.
- The documentary (this is the only Meridian Stories deliverable)
- Final verbatim script
- Resource Citation Paper – a reference document citing the resources used to research the documentary, as determined by the teacher
- Scientific Research – multiple sources
- Scientific Projection
- Community Engagement – Interviewing, researching local content
- Content Organization into narrative
- Documentary Video – Pre-production, Production, Post-production
- Image Collection, Interviewing, Scripting, Editing, Audio Recording
We recommend that this Meridian Stories Challenge take place inside of a three to four week time frame. The students must work in teams of 3-4. All reviews by the teacher are at the discretion of the teacher. Below is a suggested breakdown for the students’ work.
During Phase One, student teams will:
- Research flora and fauna in the state to find examples that meet the criteria for this challenge: species that have experienced a significant population growth or decline over the past 50 years.
- Teachers may, if desired, provide the students with a range of selections.
- Select a local plant or animal on which to focus and continue your research, using multiple primary and secondary sources.
- Research should focus on past and present conditions of the select species.
- Assemble the research and identify two ‘subject matter experts’ to interview as part of your documentary. Set up the interview
|Meridian Storiesprovides two forms of support for the student teams.
Recommended review, as a team, for this Challenge include:
|Media Innovators and Artists||Meridian Tips|
|On Documentary Films – Sarah ChildressOn Interviewing– Tom PierceOn Non-fiction – Margaret Heffernan
On Making Documentaries – Margaret Heffernan
|“Conducting An Interview”“Creating a Short Documentary”“Six Principal Modes of Documentary Filmmaking”|
During Phase Two, student teams will:
- Conduct the interviews.
- What has your team learned from the interview(s) and how will that affect the overall narrative?
- Brainstorm possible future scenarios for the select species. What is plausible without any human intervention and what might be plausible with human intervention?
- Outline all the relevant information that your team has gathered about the past, present and future of your choice. (This outline can be presented to the teacher for review and comment, at the teacher’s discretion.)
- Brainstorm about how your team is going to translate the information into a story. What is the story and how are you going to tell it? Write an outline of the proposed narrative.
- With the narrative/story roughly in place, brainstorm about how your team is going to translate this story into imagery. What visuals do you need to tell your story?
- Combine your script (narrative) with your visual shot list.
- Begin documentary pre-production that includes identifying the visual shots – still and moving — the locations and organizing the shoot.
During Phase Three, student teams will:
- Complete the video shooting and collection of still images.
- Finalize the script and record the voice over.
- Edit the moving and still images together and complete the post-production.
- Write the Resource Citation Paper (if necessary)
- How does your chosen species interact with the environment’s living (biotic) and physical (abiotic) features?
- To what extent can the history, present, and future of one species affect the biodiversity of Maine in its entirety?
- How does one research, select and organize content from a variety of sources – primary and secondary – in order to present a compelling, cohesive and scientifically accurate narrative?
- What are the basics of video production and, specifically, the documentary genre?
- How has working on a team changed the learning experience?
- The student will understand numerous characteristics of the organisms’ interactions with their environment, including but not limited to how the organisms of their chosen species obtain food and resources, change their environment, and interact with other organisms of the same and other species.
- The student will gain a deeper awareness of the wide-reaching repercussions of alterations in one part of an environment.
- The student will understand the processes involved in researching content from a variety of sources; selecting relevant information from those sources; and organizing this information in a way that yields narrative cohesion and scientific accuracy.
- The student will know the basic constructs of using video media to effectively communicate information and a story, and will know some of the basic constructs of the documentary video genre.
- The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration.
|CONTENT COMMAND – Clear understanding of the chosen species.|
|Criteria||1 – 3||4 – 7||8 – 10|
|Communication of Content – Past and present of the species||The historical and present state of the chosen species is not presented clearly||The historical and present state of the chosen species is evident, but is not presented in depth||The historical and present state of the chosen species is presented clearly, thoroughly and compellingly|
|Research||The range and depth of research to support your presentation is weak||The range and depth of research to support your presentation is adequate||The range and depth of research to support your presentation is compelling|
|Plausibility of Content – Future of the species (including solutions, where applicable)||The predicted future of the species is unlikely||The predicted future of the species is somewhat plausible||The predicted future of the species is plausible and likely|
|STORYTELLING COMMAND – Effective Use of Narrative Style and Interviews|
|Criteria||1 – 3||4 – 7||8 – 10|
|Scripting||The script does not convey the content in a well organized or consistently engaging fashion||The script clearly conveys the content||The script clearly conveys the content in an engaging narrative|
|Interviews||The interviews don’t significantly contribute to the informational value and clarity of the documentary||The interviews service the informational value and clarity of the documentary||The interviews enhance the informational value and clarity of the documentary|
|Overall Narrative Clarity||The narrative – combination of visuals, scripting and interviews – is hard to follow||The narrative is presented clearly, but is inconsistently engaging||The narrative is presented clearly and compellingly|
|MEDIA COMMAND – Effective use of the media to communicate narrative|
|Criteria||1 – 3||4 – 7||8 – 10|
|Visual Shot Selection||The combination of still and video shots does not effectively communicate the content||The combination of still and video shots inconsistently communicates the content||The combination of still and video shots effectively and engagingly communicates the content|
|Editing and Music||The documentary feels patched together and the overall editing and use of music detracts from the story||The documentary flows, but there are occasional editing or musical distractions||The documentary is edited cleanly and effectively, resulting in an engaging video experience that is also enhanced by the music|
|21ST CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (for teachers only) – Effective use of collaborative thinking, creativity and innovation, and initiative and self-direction to create and produce the final project.|
|Collaborative Thinking||The group did not work together effectively and/or did not share the work equally||The group worked together effectively and had no major issues||The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member|
|Creativity and Innovation||The group did not make a solid effort to create anything new or innovative||The group was able to brainstorm new and inventive ideas, but was inconsistent in their realistic evaluation and implementation of those ideas||The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively|
|Initiative and Self-Direction||The group was unable to set attainable goals, work independently and manage their time effectively||The group required some additional help, but was able to complete the project on time with few problems||The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project|
The Local Flora and Fauna Documentary Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that are articulated in the working document entitled ‘A Framework for K – 12 Science Education’. Published by the National Academy of Sciences, this document will form the basis for the Next Generation Science Standards, in which Maine is a ‘lead state’. Below please find the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
A Framework for K-12 Science Education – Dimensions of the Framework
|Subject||Grade 8 Expectations||Grade 12 Expectations|
|LS1.B LIFE SCIENCES
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Growth and Development of Organisms
|Organisms reproduce, either sexually or asexually, and transfer their genetic information to their offspring. Animals engage in characteristic behaviors that increase the odds of reproduction. Plants reproduce in a variety of ways, sometimes depending on animal behavior and specialized features (such as attractively colored flowers) for reproduction. Plant growth can continue throughout the plant’s life through production of plant matter in photosynthesis. Genetic factors as well as local conditions affect the size of the adult plant. The growth of an animal is controlled by genetic factors, food intake, and interactions with other organisms, and each species has a typical adult size range.||In multicellular organisms individual cells grow and then divide via a process called mitosis, thereby allowing the organism to grow. The organism begins as a single cell (fertilized egg) that divides successively to produce many cells, with each parent cell passing identical genetic material (two variants of each chromosome pair) to both daughter cells. As successive subdivisions of an embryo’s cells occur, programmed genetic instructions and small differences in their immediate environments activate or inactivate different genes, which cause the cells to develop differently—a process called differentiation. Cellular division and differentiation produce and maintain a complex organism, com- posed of systems of tissues and organs that work together to meet the needs of the whole organism. In sexual reproduction, a specialized type of cell division called meiosis occurs that results in the production of sex cells, such as gametes in animals (sperm and eggs), which contain only one member from each chromosome pair in the parent cell.|
|LS1.C LIFE SCIENCES
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms
|Plants, algae (including phytoplankton), and many micro- organisms use the energy from light to make sugars (food) from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through the process of photosynthesis, which also releases oxygen. These sugars can be used immediately or stored for growth or later use. Animals obtain food from eating plants or eating other animals. Within individual organisms, food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down and rearranged to form new molecules, to support growth, or to release energy. In most animals and plants, oxygen reacts with carbon- containing molecules (sugars) to provide energy and produce carbon dioxide; anaerobic bacteria achieve their energy needs in other chemical processes that do not require oxygen.||The process of photosynthesis converts light energy to stored chemical energy by converting carbon dioxide plus water into sugars plus released oxygen. The sugar molecules thus formed contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; their hydrocarbon backbones are used to make amino acids and other carbon-based molecules that can be assembled into larger molecules (such as proteins or DNA), used for example to form new cells. As matter and energy flow through different organizational levels of living systems, chemical elements are recombined in different ways to form different products. As a result of these chemical reactions, energy is transferred from one system of interacting molecules to another. For example, aerobic (in the presence of oxygen) cellular respiration is a chemical process in which the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and new compounds are formed that can transport energy to muscles. Anaerobic (without oxygen) cellular respiration follows a different and less efficient chemical pathway to provide energy in cells. Cellular respiration also releases the energy needed to maintain body temperature despite ongoing energy loss to the surrounding environment. Matter and energy are conserved in each change. This is true of all biological systems, from individual cells to ecosystems.|
|LS1.D LIFE SCIENCES
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
|Each sense receptor responds to different inputs (electro- magnetic, mechanical, chemical), transmitting them as signals that travel along nerve cells to the brain. The signals are then processed in the brain, resulting in immediate behaviors or memories. Changes in the structure and functioning of many millions of interconnected nerve cells allow combined inputs to be stored as memories for long periods of time.||In complex animals, the brain is divided into several distinct regions and circuits, each of which primarily serves dedicated functions, such as visual perception, auditory perception, interpretation of perceptual information, guidance of motor movement, and decision making about actions to take in the event of certain inputs. In addition, some circuits give rise to emotions and memories that motivate organisms to seek rewards, avoid punishments, develop fears, or form attachments to members of their own species and, in some cases, to individuals of other species (e.g., mixed herds of mammals, mixed flocks of birds). The integrated functioning of all parts of the brain is important for successful interpretation of inputs and generation of behaviors in response to them.|
|LS2.A LIFE SCIENCES
Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy and Dynamics
Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
|Organisms and populations of organisms are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors. Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources. In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction. Similarly, predatory interactions may reduce the number of organisms or eliminate whole populations of organisms. Mutually beneficial interactions, in contrast, may become so interdependent that each organism requires the other for survival. Although the species involved in these competitive, predatory, and mutually beneficial interactions vary across ecosystems, the patterns of interactions of organisms with their environments, both living and nonliving, are shared.||Ecosystems have carrying capacities, which are limits to the numbers of organisms and populations they can support. These limits result from such factors as the availability of living and nonliving resources and from such challenges as predation, competition, and disease. Organisms would have the capacity to produce populations of great size were it not for the fact that environments and resources are finite. This fundamental tension affects the abundance (number of individuals) of species in any given ecosystem.|
|LS4.C LIFE SCIENCES
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
|Adaptation by natural selection acting over generations is one important process by which species change over time in response to changes in environmental conditions. Traits that support successful survival and reproduction in the new environment become more common; those that do not become less common. Thus, the distribution of traits in a population changes. In separated populations with different conditions, the changes can be large enough that the populations, provided they remain separated (a process called reproductive isolation), evolve to become separate species.||Natural selection is the result of four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for an environment’s limited supply of the resources that individuals need in order to survive and reproduce, and (4) the ensuing proliferation of those organ- isms that are better able to survive and reproduce in that environment. Natural selection leads to adaptation—that is, to a population dominated by organisms that are anatomically, behaviorally, and physiologically well suited to survive and reproduce in a specific environment. That is, the differential survival and reproduction of organisms in a population that have an advantageous heritable trait leads to an increase in the proportion of individuals in future generations that have the trait and to a decrease in the proportion of individuals that do not. Adaptation also means that the distribution of traits in a population can change when conditions change.Changes in the physical environment, whether naturally occurring or human induced, have thus contributed to the expansion of some species, the emergence of new distinct species as populations diverge under different conditions, and the decline—and sometimes the extinction—of some species. Species become extinct because they can no longer survive and reproduce in their altered environment. If members cannot adjust to change that is too fast or too drastic, the opportunity for the species’ evolution is lost.|