Welcome to Project Crystal Code! During this virtual program, you and your middle school students are invited to help UC Irvine, Crystal Cove State Park, and Crystal Cove Conservancy study the best way to help seedlings grow. Project Crystal Code participants will learn about the real-life challenges we face in protecting Moro Canyon and how we can use technology to address those challenges as they investigate scientific questions, design a model, build scientific sensors, analyze data, and finally create a recommendation for Crystal Cove State Park.
How to Join
If you are a new teacher and would like to run Project Crystal Code through your own online learning platform, please complete this survey and let us know!
Project Crystal Code is designed to address Next Generation Science Standards for middle school, includes concepts such as how matter and energy move through an ecosystem, the carbon cycle, and how we can use science ideas to protect our wild places.
The online distance learning version of the program is divided into ten sessions, which consist of 60-90 minutes of investigations, including an optional Explore at Home extension. The twelve sessions include:
- Session 1: Introduction to Moro Canyon
- Session 2: Changing Landscapes in Moro Canyon
- Session 3: Introduction to Our Research Project
- Session 4: Exploring Decomposition
- Session 5: Designing a Model
- Session 6: Making a Hypothesis & Designing the Experiment
- Session 7: Building Circuits
- Session 8: Learning to Code
- Session 9: Coding a Soil Moisture Sensor at Home
- Session 10: Recording Data
- Session 11: Analyzing and Graphing Data
- Session 12: Sharing Our Findings
Within each session, you will find the following sections:
- Introduction: A short Google Slides presentation with 4-5 slides, with a video introducing the session topic, a outline of the session’s activities, learning objectives, and materials needed.
- Investigation: Short activities ranging from 30-90 minutes in length, exploring the main topic of the session. Each Investigation also includes an accompanying Science Notebook page, which can be set up as a Google Document.
- Dig Deeper: Includes additional background reading, videos, and other media to learn more about a particular topic.
- Explore at Home Extension: A few sessions will also include standalone activities that students can take part in at home to relate what they’re learning about with Crystal Cove State Park to their own home or neighborhood. As much as possible, we’ve tried to include options for students who may not be able to access the outside.
- Discussion: A reflection prompt that students can respond to, helping to connect their investigations with the broader research topic. If you are hosting files on Google Classroom, we suggest setting these up as a Question post so that students can post their thoughts publicly and respond to others in your class. You can also set up a Flipgrid or other online platform.
Please feel free to use and adapt any materials that you find here. You are welcome to use any parts of the lessons, whether as stand-alone activities or as part of the full curriculum. However, we do ask that you credit Crystal Cove Conservancy as you adapt and share them.
If you have any questions or need anything in a different format, please reach out to Kaitlin Magliano by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
Resources for Returning Teachers
- Welcome Video for New Students
- Resources to Share with Parents
Session 1: Welcome to Moro Canyon
- Introduction: Crystal Cove State Park’s Moro Canyon
- Investigation: What plants and animals live in Moro Canyon?
- Explore at Home Extension: What plants and animals are around your home?
- Discussion Question: Do you think that Moro Canyon is a place worth protecting? Why or why not?
Session 2: Moro Canyon’s Changing Landscape
- Introduction: Changing Landscapes in Moro Canyon
- Investigation: How has the landscape changed?
- Dig Deeper
- Explore at Home Extension: What human impacts can you find in your neighborhood?
- Discussion Question: How can we restore degraded areas in Moro Canyon?
Session 3: Introduction to Our Research Project
- Introduction: Meet Lana Nguyen and Kendra Walters!
- Investigation: What is our research question?
- Discussion Question: What are your initial ideas? Which type of mulch will decompose the quickest? How will the two types of mulch affect soil moisture?
Session 4: Investigating Decomposition
- Introduction: What happens during decomposition?
- Investigation: Exploring Decomposition
- Dig Deeper: What affects decomposition rates?
- Discussion Question: What different factors do you think might influence the decomposition rates of mulch?
Session 5: Designing a Model
- Introduction: Designing a Computer Model
- Brainstorming: What affects the growth of seedlings?
- Investigation: Make a Computer Model
- Explore at Home Extension: Go on a photo scavenger hunt!
- Discussion Question: Based on your model, which type of mulch do you predict will decompose and lose mass the fastest? Where do you think soil moisture will be highest and lowest?
Session 6: Making a Hypothesis & Designing the Experiment
- Introduction: The Next Steps in Our Experiment
- Investigation Part 1: Making a Hypothesis
- Investigation Part 2: Designing the Experiment
- Discussion Question: What are your hypotheses? What were your ideas about designing an experiment to test each hypothesis?
Session 7: Building Circuits
- Introduction: Building Our Own Soil Moisture Meter
- Investigation: Exploring Circuits
- Dig Deeper: Developing a Plan to Build a Soil Moisture Meter
- Discussion Question: Why do we need to know about circuits to build a soil moisture sensor?
Session 8: Learning to Code
- Introduction: Exploring Block-Based Coding
- Investigation: Learning to Code
- Dig Deeper: Coding a Rock, Paper, Scissors Game
- Discussion Question: What questions do you have about coding?
Session 9: Coding a Soil Moisture Sensor
- Introduction: Putting It All Together
- Investigation: Coding a Soil Moisture Meter
- Discussion Question: How does measuring soil moisture help us answer our research question?
Session 10: Collecting & Recording Data
- Introduction: Collecting & Recording Data
- Investigation: Recording Data
- Dig Deeper: Calculating Percent Mass Loss
- Discussion Question: What are your first impressions of the data?
Session 11: Analyzing Data
- Introduction: Analyzing Our Data
- Investigation: Using SageModeler to Analyze Our Data
- Dig Deeper: Is Our Data Significant?
- Discussion Question: Did your graphs support your two hypotheses?
Session 12: Making a Recommendation
- Introduction: Making a Recommendation
- Investigation: Constructing an Explanation
- Dig Deeper: Sharing Our Findings
- Thank You Slideshow
- Discussion Question: What did you enjoy most from Project Crystal Code?