BIORAMA! The Biome Project

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Many of our students refer to the Biome Project – and specifically the creation of their biome diorama (BIORAMA!) – as their favorite of the year.  The Biome Project celebrates the best parts of project-based learning by having students work independently to create a project that is both academic and artistic.  Plus, who doesn’t love learning about plants and animals?

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Inspired by the Native Lands unit at NYC’s Earth School, the Biome Project has students conduct research on how animals and plants adapt to the climate of their biome. We start with mini-units on the rainforest and desert, the latter of which includes an awesome virtual field trip to California’s Anza-Borrego State Park.  These units provide scaffolding for students eventually to do independent Internet research on a biome of their choice.

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The end result of this research is the BIORAMA!  Students are proud of the work they do in teams without teacher support and love the opportunity to work with arts and crafts in an otherwise tech-heavy program.

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Taking a page from Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence, we save the Biome Projects from year to year to use them as models.  As a result, the projects get more creative and excellent each year.

Check out the video below to see all our students working on the BIORAMAS!  If you have had success with a similar unit, share it in the comments section.

2 comments

  1. ELizabeth · January 11, 2014

    Love this project. I would like to do this with my students. Were your materials subsidized by a grant of some sort? I have no budget at all (seriously). It all comes from my pocket but I might be able to make a list of needed materials and put it out there on Facebook or Donors Choose. DId you use a rubric so that your students knew the elements to include, how you would grade, etc.?

    Thanks.

    • banyangloballearning · February 12, 2014

      Our students brought in their own materials, but I’m sure you could do this with some found materials – paper bags from the grocery store, cardboard shoe boxes, cutting up pieces of plastic, gathering scraps from a forest floor, etc. We did use a rubric, yes, like all of our assignments! We focused a lot on adaptations, so much of the score was based on whether or not these were communicated clearly. We also included scores for accuracy of the dioramas, creativity, and presentation, in additional to requirements about numbers of animals and plants, etc. If you do the project as well, please let us know! Our students would love to communicate with yours, perhaps over Edmodo or some other social network.

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