Greetings! I am glad that you have selected this curriculum.
I am particularly enthusiastic about the field of ecology because it provides the basis for understanding how the environment functions. And a successfully functioning environment is becoming everyone's concern more and more every day. Your students will be involved in forming public policy on the environment as they become voting citizens. Even now, young people are making daily decisions that affect the environment-what to buy, how to conserve resources, what to discard, and how to discard it. Consequently, a solid understanding of ecology will serve them throughout their lives.
We were confronted by two main challenges in developing the ecology unit. First, how can the broad field of ecology be effectively related to the life of a middle school student? Second, how can the many different subfields of ecology be comprehensively linked and investigated as a cohesive whole? We decided to address both of these challenges by building the unit around the important and basic concept of energy. Energy is the unifying theme throughout this ecology unit. The students investigate energy in the environment, from the tiny amounts of energy that they use twitching their muscles to the massive amounts of fossil-fuel energy that power our industrial-based economy.
This unit was written with the students always in mind. The text and activities were researched and developed to empower students as critical thinkers and effective problem solvers. Of course this curriculum will provide students with important knowledge about their natural world. But, more importantly, what they do as they actively investigate their environment will provide them with the tools they will need to investigate more, seek solutions to problems, and make good decisions about the environment long after they've completed the last activity.
This program is activity-based. And it is in the activities that the students use and perfect scientific and problem-solving tools that will make them good decision makers. So I want to thank Heidi Ballard, Susan Schultz, Geri Horsma, and Marjorie Gray for developing the activities from whatever slender threads of ideas I had.
I hope you enjoy using the text and its activities. Our research and field tests heighten my confidence that your students will enjoy and benefit from this curriculum.
Robert B. Blair
Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology
Miami University of Oxford, Ohio