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  • Writer's pictureEthan Hoffman

Outdoors Looking In--Science Classes Create Ecosystems in a Bottle

Ecosystem projects from Ashly Sigmon's Biology classes take in some sunlight by the window. (Photo by Ethan Hoffman)

By Ethan Hoffman--Eagle Staff Writer

When the word ecosystem comes to mind, thoughts of science class and the outdoors soon follow suit. Biology teacher Ashly Sigmon has found an interactive way to bring these two subjects together.

Sigmon found the idea for building functioning ecosystems in empty soda bottles online. She adapted the idea for her own classes student by having each student draw up designs for the bottle, present them, and have the entire class give feedback.

“The designs each class came up with were very creative," Sigmon shared.

Then the class was split up into groups to create an ecosystem that has everything for living organisms to survive in the bottle, including nutrients and water. The class then took some of the best ideas from each group and made one bottle for the whole group.

“The students seemed to be enjoying the project,” Sigmon recalled. “Some of the students brought some stuff from home for the project, like insects and such, which was neat.”

Sigmon's hope is to continue this project for years to come. This decision was based on student feedback.

“It is very interesting to see the mold and other plants grow around the bottle, just like a real world ecosystem," sophomore Logan Haerer commented.

Sigmon said she plans for the project to stretch over the course of the whole semester, but there will be challenges.

“The biggest issue we have faced is keeping the insects inside the bottle alive for the entire length of the project,” she added.

If all goes well, Sigmon hopes to have students write a story about what happens in the bottle for 2nd graders at Rocky Mount Elementary School. For now, though, students are still marvelling at their living works of art.

“It is very cool that we can create an ecosystem above ground inside a little plastic bottle. It has been cool seeing the rolly pollies and snails inside the experiment survive in their new ecosystem,“ sophomore JJ Pratt concluded.

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