Updated: May 10
We are inviting all homeschoolers to join us this semester in being an everglades explorer. Lessons are available for grade K-8 and can be done at your own pace. Share photos of you doing the lessons to be enter each week to win a prize. We will be posting new lessons each Monday. We also have a few opportunities to explore the everglades in person for those of you that live in South Florida. Let's get started!
Week 1 Lesson - February 7, 2022 - Cypress Dome
Welcome to the Everglades. We will start by exploring this amazing resource. Follow along with Richard Kern from Odyssey Earth as he explores different habitats of the Everglades using a drone with a 360-degree camera. Explore the 360-degree videos on habitats such as the Cypress Dome, Mangrove Swamp, Sawgrass Prairie, Seagrass Meadow, and more! Use your cursor to scroll up, down, and all around to view the habitats. You can use your computer, a smart phone, cardboard VR or VR Goggles to view. Local Students can "borrow" our VR glasses (limited quantity available - email firstname.lastname@example.org) Each video comes with a field guide and scavenger hunt questions created by Odyssey Earth. You will use the Field Observation Datesheets to complete a digital field study of the habitats. This week we will explore the Cypress Dome. The cypress dome habitat is one of the most mysterious, fascinating and important habitats in the Everglades. If you’re up for some adventure and don’t mind getting a little muddy, a trip into a cypress dome is an experience you’ll never forget! First, download your 1st field guide here:
Then, watch the first video here: https://www.odysseyearth.com/videos/cypress-dome-360/ Finish the field guide and take a screen shot of your online quiz. Email these back to email@example.com for credit toward your explorer certificate and for you chance to win a monthly prize. Next week we will explore the Mangrove Fringe! Want to explore in person? Here is this week's opportunities Saturday, February 12th (Space is Limited) Try-It Paddling at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge Session 1: 10:00 am Session 2: 11:00 am Session 3: 12:00 pm Loxahatchee Adventures invites you to try paddling a canoe or kayak on the refuge! Locations at Lee Road (Boynton Beach) and Hillsboro boat ramps (west end of Loxahatchee Road, west of Boca Raton) Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Sessions last approximately one hour. Space is limited, reserve your spot online. Cypress Swamp Boardwalk ToursFebruary 9, 2022 at 9:00 am February 10, 2022 at 1:30 pmFebruary 12, 2022 at 10:00 am and 1:30 pm Join a refuge naturalist for a walking tour of the 0.4-mile Cypress Swamp Boardwalk to learn about the plants and wildlife that live in the cypress swamp. Meet behind the visitor center. Groups of 5 or more should make reservations by February 3 by contacting Veronica_Kelly@fws.gov. Marsh Trail Guided WalksFebruary 7 at 2:00 pmFebruary 9 at 10:00 amFebruary 11 at 10:00 am Join a refuge naturalist on a one-mile guided walk to explore the Marsh Trail. This area of the refuge is similar to the habitat found inside the 141,000-acre Refuge Interior to the west and it contrasts with the 400-acre Cypress Swamp to the north. Along the way we will look for wildlife and discuss the different habitats of the Everglades and some of the key native plant species that call the refuge home. Meet at Marsh Trail Pavilion. Groups of 5 or more should make reservations by February 3 by contacting Veronica_Kelly@fws.gov. LILA ToursFebruary 8 at 10:00 am (bilingual tour, Spanish and English)February 8 at 11:00 am (bilingual tour, Spanish and English)February 10 at 9:30 amFebruary 10 at 10:30 am Join tour leaders from South Water Management District for a walking tour to learn about the Loxahatchee Impoundment Landscape Assessment – or LILA for short. LILA is a working model of the Everglades and the world's largest living laboratory. Space is limited, register by February 3 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Week 2 Lesson - February 14, 2022 - Mangrove Fringe
Welcome to Week 2 of our Everglades Explorer class. This week we are exploring the mangrove fringe. Grab some google cardboard VR google and explore this habitat in 360 degrees here: https://www.odysseyearth.com/videos/mangrove-fringe-360/ If you look at South Florida from above, the coast is fringed with…houses and hotels. But go back in time and you would have seen dense forests of mangroves. The coastal Everglades is still loaded with mangroves, which is a really good thing. Watch the video, use the field guide (click the button below) and take the quiz to identify three things you might encounter in an Everglades cypress dome. Good luck!
Send us a photo of you exploring a local mangrove habitat and learning about mangrove through this lesson to be entered in our February giveaway. Vocabulary List
Mangal: a community or forest of mangrove trees
Lenticel: a pore-like structure found on vascular plants that is designed to absorb oxygen and for the exchange of other gases
Pneumatophore: specialized aerial roots that enable certain plants to breathe air in waterlogged habitats, similar to a snorkel. Black mangroves have pneumatophores, and cypress knees are also considered pneumatophores. The surface of these pneumatophores are covered with lenticels
Exclusion: keeping apart; blocking an entrance
Aerial roots - Short roots above ground.
Brackish water - Fresh water mixed with saltwater
Drop roots - Roots that hang down from the branches of the upper stem.
Ecosystem services - Natural services that support life on earth and are essential to the quality of human life and to the functioning of the world’s economy.
Facultative halophytes - Plants that can live in either fresh or salty water.
Mangroves - A term for a variety of tree species and a habitat associated with brackish water. There are three main types of mangroves: red, black, and white. Mangroves provide a primary line of defense against hurricanes. LAB SUPPLIES:
2 Shallow Trays
Red, Black & White Pipe Cleaners
Mangroves are one of the most highly adapted species in the Everglades watershed. They have evolved a specialized root system and physiological mechanisms that ideally suit them to their specialized niche as the interface between land and sea along the coastline. This lesson on mangroves is a perfect vehicle for characterizing how biotic components can define an ecosystem. There are three species of true mangroves that live in Florida: red, black, and white. A fourth tree – the buttonwood, is closely related to the white mangrove and is sometimes considered a mangrove, but is intolerant of flooding, and is not limited to coastal mangrove swamps. The red mangrove’s shallow prop roots extend from the lower stem like arching spider legs, giving it the nickname “the walking tree.” Drop roots hang down from the branches of the upper stem. The parts of the roots that are above ground (and above water) contain small pores or lenticels that allow the roots to take in oxygen, which then moves down through the tissue and prevents water and salt from entering during high tide. The waxy, dark green leaves of the red mangrove are larger than those of the other mangrove species, and help the tree retain water. The red mangrove gets its name from the reddish layer just beneath its thin grayish bark. Its seedling, or propagule, is long and cigar shaped. The red mangrove grows closest to the coast and is even found in off-shore mud flats, and sand bars.
The black mangrove is typically found more inland. Its root system consists of shallow cables that radiate outward many feet away from the stem. Peg-like aerial roots called pneumatophores extend upwards from the cable roots. These pneumatophores contain lenticels that help in oxygen exchange. The black mangrove gets its name from the dark, blackish bark. The leaves have a silvery underside and are able to excrete salt. Its propagule looks like a lima bean. The white mangrove is found even further inland and its root system is able to exclude salt by filtering brackish water, freshwater mixed with saltwater. It is the smallest of the true mangroves and has oval shaped leaves with a distinct gland-like opening on the leaf stem, called a petiole. White mangroves also have pneumatophores like the black mangrove. Mangroves serve important ecosystem services in coastal communities, by helping protect the fragile coastline from erosion during storm surge. Mangroves also contribute to the growth of new land by trapping organic debris in their root system. They shed part of their leaves throughout the year, adding to that buildup. Preparation: 1. Gather materials.
2. Cut pipe cleaners in half (6 inch lengths).
3. Build sample model to show class (optional), or draw a sketch on the board of where to place the mangroves in the model (see diagram of mangrove models).
4. Have materials for each group’s station in place: sand, water in beakers, pipe cleaners, trays, and ruler. Directions:
You are going to construct two models to demonstrate the role mangroves play in the coastal community. One model will include mangroves, the other will not.
In each tray, students will: create a shoreline by placing a 3 to 4 inch pile of sand at one end of the tray. On one of the models, use the colored pipe-cleaners to simulate the three kinds of mangroves. Securely insert the pipe-cleaners into the sand. For red mangroves: twist together 4 sections of red pipe-cleaners at their mid-point to form the trunk and spread the ends apart to form prop roots. Add a coastal fringe of 3 red mangroves along the coast- line from side to side of the tray by interlocking the simulated prop roots and pushing them down into the sand. For black mangroves: twist 4 black pipe cleaners together but spread the simulated roots apart and flatten them like spokes of a wheel. Use one “spoke” to anchor the mangrove in the sand. Add pneumatophores by twisting the ends of the pipe cleaner so that they project upwards. Place the black mangroves in a band behind the red mangroves so that the pneumatophores stick up above the surface. Make 3 black mangroves. For white mangroves: twist 4 white pipe cleaners together. Spread the “roots” and stick them straight through the sand behind the black mangroves. Make 3 white mangroves.
Add more sand to cover the base of the mangrove root systems in the model. Add water to the model to a depth of about one third of the tray. For the mangrove model, make sure the water covers the lower part of the prop roots of the red mangrove and covers all the roots of the black mangroves so that only the pneumatophores project above the water.
Add the same amount of water to the model with no mangroves.
With a ruler, measure the depth of the sand just above the water line in each model. Create a data table and record this measurement. If students are not using science journals, have them create a data table on a piece of paper.
Use a ruler to simulate waves by placing it in the water end of the tray and moving it gently back and forward for 30 waves. Push it strongly towards the "beach" to simulate storm surge about 5 times. Repeat this procedure in the model with no mangroves.
Observe the results. In the same spot that you measured initially, take the measurement again of the depth of the sand. Repeat this procedure in the model with no mangroves. Record your results on your data table. Observe the amount of sand that has spilled into the water in each model.
Share your results with us by emailing your graph and photos to email@example.com. How do mangroves help protect our coastlines and our local wildlife? This week’s field trip opportunities:
Today is the last day to register for our Everglades airboat ride RSVP
Explore a local park with mangroves and try to identify the different species. Here are some parks we recommend but you can find mangroves at many parks that line the intracoastal waterways.
Deerfield Island Park
Anne Kolb Nature Center
West Lake Park
Secret Wood Nature Center
Mizell Johnson State Park
Oleta Rive State Park
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Par
Week 3 Lesson - February 21, 2022 - River of Grass
Ever wonder how the Everglades came to be known as the “river of grass?” Explore the amazing world of the sawgrass prairie with us and you’ll get it.
Watch the video, here: https://www.odysseyearth.com/videos/sawgrass-prairie-360/
Then use the field guide and take the quiz to identify three things you might encounter in an Everglades sawgrass prairie.
• Ecosystem services - Natural services that support life on earth and are essential to the quality of human life and to the functioning of the world’s economy.
• Hydric - An area saturated by water.
• Metaphor - A word or phrase that represents a concept or idea through another concept or idea.
• Wetland - An area of land that is wet at least part of the year, often containing unique soils, vegetation, and wildlife; sometimes referred to as swamps, bogs, marshes, or prairies.
Download this week's lab below:
(If file does not download, click this link)
For field trip options, see Lesson 2. Send us a photo of your lab to be entered into this week's giveaway.
Week 4 Lesson - February 28, 2022 - Seagrass Beds
Seagrasses don’t get enough love, but they’re really, really, super important. Follow us on a 360 tour of a typical seagrass meadow to find out why.
Watch the video, use the field guide (click the button below) and take the quiz to identify three things you might encounter in an Everglades seagrass meadow.
Watch the video, here:
Then use the field guide and take the quiz to identify three things you might encounter in an Everglades seagrass meadow.
Download the field Guide here
Then finish and complete the Field Data sheet. Download below. If you are unable to download, go to this link.
Seagrass live in the coastal waters of most of the worlds’ continents. They are the main diet of manatee and sea turtles. Sea turtles, manatees, parrotfish, surgeonfish, sea urchins and pinfish feed on Florida seagrasses. Many other smaller animals feed on the epiphytes and invertebrates that live on and among seagrass blades.
Seagrasses absorb nutrients from coastal run-off and stabilize sediment, helping to keep the water clear.
In order for seagrass to grow, the water must have a critical balance of temperature, salinity, waves, currents, depth, substrate and sunlight. If the balance is thrown off, the seagrass habitat can die.
Seagrasses are one of Biscayne Bay's critical habitats. Seagrass beds serve as a food source, a habitat for small marine organisms, and they regulate water quality by stabilizing sediments and cycling nutrients. However, seagrass cover in the Bay has drastically declined over the last decade.
Seagrass coverage over the last 10 years:
Seagrass coverage has significantly declined in Biscayne Bay over the last 10-20 years. The most notable area in Biscayne Bay experiencing this decline is near the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Seagrass coverage decreased by nearly 90% in some areas around the Causeway. The problem with seagrass decline is that once it's removed from the ecosystem, it's very hard to restore and recover.
Google Satellite images of seagrass coverage, represented in darker shading, near Julia Tuttle Causeway in 2011 (pictured left), contrasted with coverage in 2016.
High volumes of nutrients from leaky septic systems and sewage spills (SSOs) as well as fertilizer runoff are a few of the contributing factors causing the decline in seagrass coverage. As an estuary, Biscayne Bay requires both fresh and saltwater to support its diverse ecosystem. While the Bay receives freshwater through the region's intricate canal system, the quality of that freshwater can be poor. This poor water quality is having measurable impacts on the Bay and is likely contributing to the localized seagrass die-offs we are seeing in the Bay.
Interested in learning more about how you can improve local water quality? Read more HERE.
Download Science Lab Activity
In today, lab you will map out the many everglades habitats we have explored. Access the lab here: https://www.evergladesliteracy.org/_files/ugd/8d5061_c2469a62b695441da28df555b3d6116e.pdf
Field Trip Option:
Seagrass can be found all over Florida. Most is located in our waterways and bays. A kayak or paddleboard adventure can be a great way to explore some of these habitats. Access this map for a close up look of seagrass beds in our area.
A trip to Biscayne Park is a great opportunity as well. Biscayne National Parkis as big as Austin, Texas, and a full 95 percent is underwater, with reefs, wrecks, seagrass meadows and marine life ranging from manatees and dolphins to loggerhead turtles and lionfish. There are fields of fan coral, brain coral, sea anemones and sponge. And they’re all in water that averages about 10 feet deep. You’ll need a boat to get to them, but at least
Week 5 Lesson - March 7, 2022 - Florida’s Aquifers and Springs
Florida’s Aquifers and Springs Ready to learn more about Florida’s aquifers and springs? Watch this video to explore these environments and learn how important they are for our drinking water.
How many times have you popped open a plastic bottle of spring water and wondered where it came from? Probably not that often. But chances are that crystal clear water came gurgling out of Florida’s incredible, massive spring system. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself!
Watch this video, do the online test them complete the worksheet below http://www.odysseyearth.com/videos/floridas-aquifers-and-springs/
Week 6 Lesson - March 14, 2022 - Where Does Our Water Come From?
WHERE DOES OUR WATER COME FROM? Watch this video: https://youtu.be/W_qRoqGXldE
Natural resources are derived either from the air, soil, water, and organisms of the biosphere, or from the subterranean areas of the Earth. Resources of the first type come from more usual parts of ecosystems, and are labelled ‘renewable’, and include things like wind power and trees. Resources of the second type are labelled ‘non-renewable’, for example the fossil fuels coal, oil and gas. Current unsustainable rates of human growth and consumption are threatening to use up all the non-renewable resources, and pollute much of what is renewable.
How do we manage resources that seem to belong to everyone? Natural food reserves, energy resources like fossil fuels, a clean environment, with clean air, water and soil belong to everyone and yet are protected by no one. Today, protecting such common-pool resources has become a challenge, not only on the local scale but on national and global ones as well.
Watch Now: Why is Water So Crucial to Body Function?
The River of Grass provides the drinking water for South Florida. Altogether, the Everglades ecosystem supplies the drinking water for eight million Floridians. That’s one out of every three people living in the state. In South Florida, much of the water we drink comes straight from the Biscayne Aquifer, an underground river replenished by the flow of water through the Everglades. The wetlands act like filtration systems, removing impurities from the water that moves slowly through them.
Coastal aquifers are at risk from saltwater intrusion. South Florida’s aquifer is made of limestone, which is highly porous and permeable rock. Limestone contains tiny holes that allow water to move through it, like the holes in a sponge.
The wetlands of the Everglades store excess water during the rainy season. When the dry season sets in, excess water seeps through Florida’s porous aquifer, acting as an underground river recharging the water supply. Florida cities tap into this underground water source for use in homes and businesses. Problems occur when water is used at higher rate than it can be replenished.
At the coast, the freshwater in the aquifer meets the saltwater of the ocean. The pressure of freshwater within an aquifer serves as a barrier to that ocean water. But, when there is less freshwater in the aquifer and there are higher sea levels, saltwater can start creeping in. If the saltwater advances to the wells we use to draw up drinking
water, those wells can’t be used anymore.
South Florida’s projected population growth will further increase demand on our aquifers and rising seas levels will exacerbate saltwater intrusion. Getting more freshwater into the Everglades helps fight saltwater intrusion and recharge our aquifers.
Water is the most critical issue facing the Everglades. It enters the system directly in the form of rainfall, or indirectly by flowing down from the north. Historically, the rain that fell within the Kissimmee River Basin eventually made its way south into Lake Okeechobee and then the Everglades. Today, much of the water is diverted for other uses before it reaches the southern Everglades; hence, little is available to evaporate back into the atmosphere. The quality, timing (when the system receives the water), and distribution of the water are as important as the quantity of water the area receives.
Then have a parent help you complete this worksheet: http://sitesmedia.s3.amazonaws.com/creekconnections/files/2014/12/Water-Availability-Table.pdf
Our planet is covered with water (71%), but the availability of water is the main limiting factor for life on Earth. The Water Availability Tablesummarizes the major factors affecting the amount of available water on Earth. There are about 2.18 million gallons of clean, freshwater available per person on Earth, equaling only about 0.0003% of the total water on Earth. With the known supply of freshwater on Earth, availability per person is not evenly distributed. Factors such as politics, geography, climate, and weather affect the availability and distribution of water. Land and water use for agriculture, industry, and homes affect the quality and quantity of available freshwater. These uses can have cumulative effects on soils, watersheds, and wetlands and can hinder their ability to hold and filter water.
How are people trying to fix it?
The ongoing Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) aims to recreate the original north-to-south flow of water. Water that is now sent out to sea will be cleaned and rerouted south once again in the right quantities and at the right time. The wetlands will receive the water they need and our drinking water supply will be replenished. CERP is funded by the federal government and the state government of Florida. As one of the largest ecosystem restoration projects in the world, CERP is an ambitious project to protect Florida’s ecology,
Because of changes in water flow, the Everglades doesn’t receive the fresh water that it needs. Plants and wildlife depend on that water, and so do we. communities, and economy.
What can we do? Here are 3 options to consider:
Refrain from using the resource - preservation. During time of less rain, cities may make restrictions on our water use. This could include restrictions where we can only use water at certain times or days.
Use the resource, but fix it afterwards - remediation/restoration. For example, building a desalinization plant to create fresh water from salt water.
Use the resource wisely and ecologically - sustainable-use strategies. These would include conservation measures and public awareness campaigns to encourage sustainable practices
Which do you think is our best option? What are the ways YOU use water? Make a list.
Do you know where your water comes from? Rainwater seeps into the aquifer and then is drawn through wells into pipes that run to our homes and businesses. Draw a picture of how water gets to your home.
Choose one of the two labs below:
LAB 1 - Why must we use water wisely?
Scientists often use models to recreate specific scenarios in a simplified way. In this activity they will use a model to
better understand water usage.
Brown Paper Bag with 16 beads or other small items (even candy) inside
Water Use Handout: Saving the Everglades = Protecting Our Water Supply (optional)
Do this project as a family at dinner. You will need more than one person.
Tell the student(s) and family members: “Each one of you represents the head of a family. In order for your family to survive, you must grow enough food for them to eat. The only water source to grow your crops is a small local lake (represented by the bag). Once a year you will get a chance to pump water and irrigate your crops to feed your family. The more water you have, the more crops you can grow. Without talking or looking in the bag, reach in and take ‘water units’ from the lake. Pass around the bag until everyone in your group has had a turn. It is your choice how many units you take. However, if you only take one or none, your crops will fail and your family will starve. Keep the water that you ‘pump’ in front of you.”
Pass the “lake” around the table. On the worksheet, have the student record the number of “water units” that are left in the bag (round 1).
Tell student(s) and family members: “Growing crops is not a one shot deal – there is always next year! At the end of each year the rainy season starts and the lake can recharge (replenish). This year has been an especially wet rainy season so put all of your beads back into the bag. During this round, you may communicate with your group. Pass around the bag until everyone in your group has had a turn. It is your choice how many units you take. However, if you only take one or none, your crops will fail and your family will starve. Keep the water that you ‘pump’ in front of you.”
After the family member each have taken their water from the lake, record the number of water units that are left in the bag (round 2).
Tell student(s) and family members: “We are going to play round 3. In this round, it is a normal rainy season so you are going to double the amount of water that is left in the lake after round 2. For example, if you have 6 beads in the lake, add 6 beads more to the bag. However, the carry-ing capacity of your lake is only 16 ‘water units.’ That is the amount your lake will hold. When you are doubling your water units you may not put more than 16 units in the bag, even if you have more than 8water units left. Pass around the bag until everyone in your group has had a turn. It is your choice how many units you take. However, if you only take one or none, your crops will fail and your family will starve. Keep the water that you ‘pump’ in front of you.”
After the family member each have taken their water from the lake, record the number of water units that are left in the bag (round 3).
Subsequent Rounds - Give students time to play several more rounds. Tell the student(s) and family members: “Play the game again, and keep playing (doubling the units left at the end of each round with a maximum of 16 units). Record the number of ‘water units’ that are left in the bag after each round. Play several more rounds until you see a pattern emerging.”
Did you notice that the sustainable harvest of water each year is 8 units or 2 beads/student? Read the information at Sustainable Environment and answer the questions on the worksheet as a family.
Answer these questions:
1. Describe how this activity modeled water usage and the ways in which models can help us make predictions. This activity used a specific number of beads to represent water in a community, the bag represented the lake, and the various rounds represented different water use scenarios. This activity is a simple way to predict what will happen to our water resources under various scenarios. Water is a common resource, but not an inexhaustible one. In order for everyone to have equal access to water we must conserve use and not use more than our fair share.
2. Think about water use on a global scale. Is this resource being used wisely? Why or why not? Does everyone have
equal access to water in a fair and equitable manner? Why or why not?
3. What can people do to use these resources more wisely?
Lab 2 - How can we make fresh water out of salt water?
The earth’s plants, animals, and people depend on fresh water to survive. But the water on our planet is almost all saltwater! That’s why it’s so important that we protect all the freshwater we have. With more and more people on the planet, and more and more water being used, in some parts of the world freshwater is already hard to come by.