PGCPS LogoPrince George's County Public Schools
  • Oh My Orchids!

     Grade 6


    Program Description
    2 hour program
    1 class (32 students)
    The Urban Ecology Engagement Initiative (UEEI) is a collaboration between the student residents of the Anacostia Watershed, their public school teachers, local non-profit organizations, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). Since 2014, UEEI students and their teachers have been exploring the urban ecosystems around their schools. Through the UEEI program, students engage in activities to help them better understand their local ecosystems and the challenges they face. In past years, students have only been able to document and study these environmental changes. In 2018, UEEI will continue to focus on student inquiry and data collection, but students will also be able to take direct actions to improve their local environments. We will do this by working with students to grow native orchids in their classrooms and eventually plant the orchids in their schoolyards or in other public areas. Orchids are the most diverse family of flowering plants on earth, but many of the more than 200 species native to the U.S. and Canada are threatened. Part of the reason for their decline is that orchids are intimately tied to their habitats, relying on fungi and pollinators to complete their life cycles. The survival of orchids depends on a delicate balance within healthy ecosystems. This is why orchids can be key indicators of the overall health of the environment—and why they are so vulnerable to disturbances. The ecology of orchids is complex and all of the information needed to develop protocols for propagation, conservation and restoration is not known for any species native to North America. As part of a new direction for UEEI, we are engaging with several new partners: The North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC), and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (Fairchild) in Miami, home of Fairchild’s Million Orchid Project (MOP). The North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC) is working to ensure the survival of all orchids that are native to North America, north of Mexico. NAOCC is a joint venture between the Smithsonian and the U.S. Botanic Garden, along with public and private organizations across the U.S. and Canada. As part of ensuring orchid survival, NAOCC is working to understand what conditions are best for growing our native orchids. By partnering with students in the schools of Maryland and Washington DC, we are able to experiment with growing conditions at a much larger scale than would otherwise be possible.


    Pre-Visit Materials
    Lesson Plan
    Post Visit Materials

    Next Generation Science Standards

    Performance Expectation 

    MS-LS2-1: Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
    MS-LS2-2: Construct an explanation that predicts patterns in interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.
    MS-LS2-3: Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem.
    MS-LS2-4: Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
    MS-LS2-5: Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
    MS-ESS3-4: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact earth's systems.

    Science and Engineering Practices

    Engaging In Argument From Evidence
    Construct An Oral And Written Argument
    Evaluate Competing Design Solutions
    Develop a Model to Describe Phenomena
    Analyze and Interpret Data to provide evidence for phenomena.

     - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Connections to Nature of Science
    Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence

    Disciplinary Core Ideas

    LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
    LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems
    LS2.B: Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
    LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
    LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans
    ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

     Cross Cutting Concepts

     Stability and Change
    Cause and Effect Relationships
    Energy and Matter

     Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards (MD-CCRS)
    RST.6-8.-Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
    RI.8.8-Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.
    WHST.6-8.1-Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
    WHST.6-8.9-Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
    6.SP.B.5- Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.

    Computer Science
    CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, Revised 2017
    Grades 3–6 (L1:6.CL) (Level 1, Collaboration)
    The student will be able to:
    2. Use online resources (e.g., email, online discussions, collaborative web environments) to participate in collaborative problem solving activities for the purpose of developing solutions or products.
    Source: CSTA Computer Science Standards