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Emma Thomas Reporting
Posted on 01/19/2022

Ecosystems!  By Emma Thomas

Did you know you can build an ecosystem?  Fifth graders learned about ecosystems this year, and we built eco-columns out of plastic soda bottles to represent what we learned!  We learned a lot about ecosystems, and now we will share what we’ve learned with you.

We started with the terrariums.  We needed to do our research to learn about the terrestrial ecosystem.  The terrarium represents the land habitat for the plants, rolly pollies, and crickets.  Mrs. Rousakis would call groups up one by one to create terrariums. First, we put gravel in half of a 2-liter bottle, so the water doesn’t stay at the top and ruin the plants. Then, we added soil on top of the gravel for our plants. Next, we put 3 toothpicks to make sections to keep each type of seed in a separate section of the terrarium. Finally, after planting our seeds, we watered them, so they would grow into beautiful plants. Lastly, we added a few bugs to make it more realistic including crickets, and rolly pollies.  We were thankful for the risk-takers who caught the crickets and put them in the terrariums!  Some of the crickets were flattening our plants which was very disrespectful!  We had more crickets and rolly pollies than we needed for our terrariums, so we let the rest go near the school playground.  This was fun!

We moved on to our aquariums a few days later.  The aquariums represent the freshwater habitat for plants, small fish, and even snails!  We were so excited about these! A few people came to help with this project. Like last time, Mrs. Rousakis would call the groups to come up and make their aquariums. First, we put some gravel and small rocks in the aquarium. Then, we added water and struggled to get the plants stuffed in the ground. Next, we put algae and duckweed in the aquariums. Lastly, we added minnows and snails!  This was our favorite part of the project because we loved that there were fish, and snails. Later, we noticed that some of our fish were getting cannibalistic and eating the other fish because they didn’t have food. Some of our classmates' aquariums had baby fish that were dying. We also noticed that the duckweed was growing! We knew that they wouldn’t last very long without food. We noticed that some fish died and some stayed at the top of the aquarium, possibly because they didn’t have enough oxygen. 

Now it was time for the aquarium and terrarium to be joined with a ring. We called this the “wedding” and we played wedding music. This was the creation of our eco-column. Each group had an aquarium, terrarium, and most importantly a ring to hold them together. The aquarium was on the bottom and we tried to put the ring on half way. So far, that was the hardest part of all. We taped the ring onto the aquarium, and then we placed the terrarium on top. We taped the terrarium to the ring. It was such a beautiful moment! We placed the eco-columns near the windows so the sun could shine on them.  We thought that there may not have been enough oxygen for our beloved fish, so many started to die.  Maybe, there wasn’t enough room for all of them.  We had fun naming our fish and snails and we felt bad that they spent their last days in a bottle. Some of our plants in the terrarium were also dying. We suspected the crickets were flattening them, and that caused them not to get up.

In conclusion, we really enjoyed our project. It was so fun!  We learned so much about ecosystems and how we can help take care of them.  We also learned how much impact we have on ecosystems.  It’s interesting how organisms make up populations that come together in communities.  It sounds a lot like the way people come together in their communities.   We kept the eco-columns in our classroom until the day we left for winter break.  This gave us plenty of time to make observations and predictions.  We even recorded our findings in our notebooks.  We took our eco-columns home, so we could take care of them. It wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be, but it was definitely worth the experience!  I’m happy I had the chance to share our experience with you.

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