Things will go wrong in ecocolumns, they always do. And that’s part of the magic of ecocolumns. Being able to say “hmmm” or “huh, I don’t know” and being okay with the mystery.
Teach kids that its okay to fail. There is a great article about that in Scientific American.
No matter how well an ecocolumn is built, some columns will have issues. Fish die, plants, die, fish disappear (yes, they do), plants disappear. Weird plants grow, bugs infect, they’re dropped, etc. Its all OK. Its part of learning and discovering and as teachers, sometimes we have to say we don’t know either and leave it at that. Read about some things they will learn, however, through ecocolumns.
(To read about building ecocolumns, go to these posts: Student directions for building ecocolumns, Cutting and filling bottles, planting seeds and taking data , adding bugs, worms and leaf litter, and building the aquatic chamber.)
My kids build great ecocolumns and learn a ton, but here’s some failures from this year.
And of course, fish will die. I do a lot to prevent this, but it still happens.
And theres more for which I don’t have pictures. Over the years, I’ve had
- Fish that jump out of the ecocolumn and die
- Infestation with ants
- Infestation with aphids
- Seeds that never grow
- Fish that devour elodea in a couple of days.
And more. Its all okay. Its still super fun for the kids.