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Water in the Landscape: Vernal Pools

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Research Questions & Overview

What seasonal changes take place in vernal pools?
What do these changes tell us?

Grade Levels: 1-12
Minimum Field Time: 4 times during schoolyear
Project Active: 2005-present 

Vernal Pool Project Resources

Related Research at Harvard Forest:

Aquatic Ecologist Betsy Colburn is studying vernal pools and other freshwater ecosystems that provide a unique home to specific kinds of plants and animals (see Watershed Ecology and Dr. Colburn's datasets).

Schoolyard Research Methods:

Students can contribute to this study by measuring and tracking water levels of vernal pools near their schools. Teachers may also choose to coordinate information on hydrology and climate with water quality monitoring, biological sampling, and/or wildlife surveys.

  • Teacher participates in the Summer Institute for Teachers to learn project content and methods. Teachers are provided with project materials.
  • Teacher locates vernal pool in schoolyard or local conservation area and maps the research site.
  • Teacher and students collect data during designated time periods 4 times a year.
  • Teachers are encouraged to attend one of the fall Data Workshops.
  • Teacher and students provide data to the Schoolyard Coordinator (Katharine Hinkle).
  • Data are posted on the Harvard Forest website.
  • Teacher and students may choose to analyze their data and compare it to regional schoolyard data.
  • Teacher and students are encouraged to come meet the scientist at the Harvard Forest.
  • Teachers are encouraged to attend the Spring Workshop