Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

Noble Students Use BioCubes to Study Ecosystems

Biocube on ground

Nov. 15, 2018 -- A lot of living can take place within one cubic foot of space. Just how much living is the subject of ongoing research at Noble Elementary School.

The building’s science and social studies teacher Jodi Burke has partnered with BioCube, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian to place three BioCubes on the Noble property. The open-sided square boxes, measuring one cubic foot, are located on three different sides of the school, and serve as collection sites for observational data. 

The project was inspired by photographer David Liittschwager’s article in National Geographic featuring detailed pictures of life within one cubic foot of space in dramatically different habitats which “highlighted several things about biodiversity in small spaces, including a staggering number of nook and cranny species; almost every cubic foot they sampled yielded hundreds of species.” According to the website, “Most of the world’s biodiversity occurs at small scales: organisms hidden in leaf litter, soil, and the nooks and crannies of environments.”

Students in the 4th and 5th grades, plus the after school STREAM program, make periodic visits to the cubes to observe, collect and record data. They are studying everything from the weather (including cloud cover, temperature and precipitation) to the plant and animal life found within that small space.

The students are using an app called iNaturalist to help them identify any specimens they find within their BioCubes, especially tiny and unknown insects. They plan to share all their images and data with both the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian. And they hope that by focusing on one tiny bit of space, they can learn a lot about the great big world around them.
Children studying biocube and taking notes

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