Welcome to Project Crystal Code! During this virtual program, you are invited to help UC Irvine, Crystal Cove State Park, and Crystal Cove Conservancy study the best way to restore Moro Canyon. 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 them as you investigate scientific questions, design a computer model, explore how to code an environmental sensor, analyze data, and finally create a recommendation for Crystal Cove State Park.
The program, designed to address Next Generation Science Standards for middle school, addresses concepts such as decomposition, modeling, coding, and how we can use science ideas to protect our wild places. It is divided into twelve sessions, which consist of 60-90 minutes of investigations, including an optional Explore at Home extension.
How to Join
Program materials are available below. You are welcome to work through them at your own pace!
- Welcome Video for New Students
- Getting Started & Program Overview
- Tips for Science Facilitators [Spanish Version]
- Materials & Supplies
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?