1) understand the biodiversity of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
2) learn several characteristics of Tardigrades
3) explain what is meant by an extremophile
There is a microscopic world around us that few people are fortunate enough to explore. In this unit, we will discover the hidden world inside a collection of lichens. Using a simple lab extraction method, we will isolate Tardigrades, Rotifers, Nematodes, Water mites and possibly other creatures. This activity pairs well with our Lichen Monitoring study and both units together explore the impacts of acid deposition on lichens and the fascinating world that lies within.
This lesson specifically introduces students to Tardigrades and the terminology used to describe them.
Teachers coming on the accompanying field trip should download our complete field trip packet that includes this Tardigade Research Preparation pre-site lesson, information and directions about the field trip and the Tardigrade Research Wrap-up post-site lessons.
Download the full Tardigrade Field Trip Packet here (includes Preparation and Wrap-up lessons).
Link to the Tardigrade Research Preparation lesson
Students will be introduced to Tardigrades and the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in Great Smoky Mountains National Park via two information worksheets.
Tardigrade information worksheet
ATBI and Tardigrade worksheet
Computer with internet connection
This sheet contains some student background information on Tardigrades. It should be read over by students before their field trip to the Smokies. Download
This information sheet for students introduces them to the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It focuses specifically on the Tardigrade inventory. Download
Step 1: When students visit the Smokies on their field trip they will be collecting, isolating, and viewing tardigrades. This lesson will introduce tardigrades and their characteristics. Read aloud to the students the following information regarding the ATBI and Tardigrades. Students should read individually the vocabulary and definitions worksheet and tardigrade information worksheet. After the students have finished their reading, discuss the characteristics of tardigrades and what adaptations they have in order to live in extreme environments.
Step 2: To view the Biodiversity podcast video go to
http://www.thegreatsmokymountains.org/eft/10modules.html Turn the microscope knob that appears on the computer screen to Section 1, Understanding Biodiversity. Click "Watch Video" and view video.
Students can create a concept map for the subject of "tardigrades" before starting the series of lessons. They can create a second concept map for comparison after the lessons. Did students show any gains in their organization of their knowledge; the use of concepts, content and terminology and connections; and knowledge shown between the relationships of concepts. Please see our concept map scoring rubric for grading guidance.
When most students imagine national parks and nature in general they probably think of large animals such as bear and deer. Although bear, deer, and other visible animals are important parts of the ecosystem, there are other important pieces that we often overlook. Tardigrades and other microorganisms are some of the most numerous and most biodiverse organisms on Earth. This unit explores the biodiversity of these microscopic organisms and the threats to some of their preferred habitats.