Bog Field Studies Programmes

Study Programme – Primary Schools

Motivators
(a) ‘Discovering the Wild Boglands’ DVD or talk by a Wildlife Warden
(b) Discussion of Bog Bodies
(c) Debate on the future of a peatland area
(d) Poetry about bogs or a story about turf cutting
(e) Brain storm about peat and bog wildlife

Preparation for Bog Visit
(a) Make up bog plant and pool bug identification dials. Make up or purchase pond-dipping nets and plant quadrats.
(b) Use the bog flower dial to identify plants collected from the bog in class.
(c) Make a model of bog formation: raised bog or blanket bog, depending on the type of bog you intend to visit. Make drawings of each stage to accompany the model, and write simple explanations of bog formation.
(d) Make special notebooks to present the bog project .
(e) Examine peat sods cut by different methods. Look at other peat products, for example – moss peat, activated carbon and peat fibre.

Activities on the Bog 
(a) Short energetic tasks for 5 minutes: (Find something you like and something you do not like, or find something dry, something slimy, something red, something green. Have a class discussion.
(b) Making observations: Collect words to describe the bog; When time is up collect different colours matching them with crayons; collect different patterns; collect different shapes (draw outlines and label them); different sounds (describe them).
(c) Study a peat bank. Collect peat samples.
(d) Look at plants of wet and dry places using the quadrat.
(e) Look at plants of hummocks and hollows along a transect.
(f) Look at Sphagnum moss.
(g) Pond-dipping.

Follow Up
(a) Finish drawings and diagrams from field work. Copy into project books, make up food chains and pyramids. Web of Life Game. Make mobiles in Art and Craft.
(b) Make up slogans and poems about bogs based on the words collected on the trip. Paint posters.
(c) Carry out simple investigations of peat and school soil. Investigate the growing properties of peat. Water content of Sphagnum moss.
(d) Organise a role play on a case study.
(e) Visit a museum or power station.
(f) Organise a class exhibition for other classes in the school, teachers and parents.
(g) Visit the IPCC web site at www.

 


Secondary Schools – Study Programmes

Study Programme – Junior History

Motivators
Discovering the Wild Boglands DVD or Ceíde Fields video or talk by an archaeologist or local historian.

Discussion of items found in bogs, e.g. bog bodies. Poetry by Seamus Heaney on Bog bodies.

Preparation for visit to a peatland archaeological site.

Make models of bog formation, raised or blanket bog depending on the type of bog you intend to visit. Make drawings of each stage to accompany the model and write simple explanations of bog formation. Include a time scale.

Study newspaper cuttings, descriptive written reports, maps and photographs of the site you intend to visit. Seek assistance from your local archaeological society or local museum.

Site visit
This should be seen as a fact-finding mission where students observe and make sketches on location. Study a peat bank. Calculate the age of the peat on view based on the fact that the peat accumulates 1 cm every 10 years. Use this as a dating tool.

Follow up
Model making of the archaeological site visited. Research into lifestyles and customs associated with the time the site visited was built.

Visit to the national museum or local museum to study artefacts associated with different periods in Irish archaeology.

Make a bog calendar for your locality based on the study of the peat bank.

 


Study Programme – Junior Certificate Geography

Peat and Bog Issues
Bog Formation: Model making of a raised bog with descriptions and reconstruction diagrams of the different stages.

Discovering the Wild Boglands DVD for background information

Bog Wildlife: Identification of plants from the bog using specimens and flower dials.

Peat distribution and climate – map exercises.

Peat as a resource: World wide peat resources, peat industry products: fuels, water treatment products, horticultural products. (collect samples for class study). Conflicts between peat industry and conservation. Case study and role play. Video programme on a peat issue (search You Tube).

Practical Work
Investigations of peat properties and their application to horticulture. Comparisons with other non peat gardening products. Growing experiments.

Taking Action

  • Peat use audit. Make a display of the results.
  • Visit to a peat bog. Examine structure, flora and fauna, peat bank.
  • Visit to a peat-fired power station, a briquette or moss peat factory.

 


Study Programme – O-level Science, Junior Cert Science

Motivators
Discovering the wild Boglands DVD/talk by a Wildlife Warden/ or any Film from You Tube dealing with a peat issue such as Turf Cutting and Raised Bogs in Ireland.

Preparation
Theory of Ecology: definitions, habitat types, balance of nature, feeding relationships, interdependence, competition, adaptation, colonisation, succession, factors affecting the environment.

The Bogland Habitat: Uniqueness, specialised conditions, plant and animal adaptations to survival. Use of peat conservation.

Plant identification using flower dials (make up in class) and specimens collected from a bog.

Demonstrate use of practical equipment, quadrats, nets, pitfall traps, pooters, recording a line profile transect in school grounds.

Make models of bog formation: raised or blanket bog depending on the site to be visited.

Bog Field Trip
General observations, sketch map of site, features of the bog. Quadrat study of plants in wet and dry parts of the bog, record line profile transect from a hummock to a pool. Pond dipping. Peat bank. Examples of interdependence and adaptations. Bog moss study.

Follow up
Peat soil study: moisture content, humus content. Complete food web of bog pool species. Complete line transect drawing and interpret based on the ecology of bog species. Complete quadrat study, compare and contrast the frequency of plant occurrences in wet and dry parts of the bog. Prepare report of field study.

Case study and role play on a peatland issue or site.

Taking Action to Save Bogs: organise a class exhibition of the work carried out. Invite parents, other classes in the school etc.

 


Transition Year Study Programme

Peat and Bogs
An investigation into the effects of peat cutting on the vegetation, hydrology and peat soil properties of a bog.

Aims
1. To test for similarities and variations that might occur in
a) the % humus or organic content of the peat soil
b) the % moisture content of the peat soil
c) the depth of the water table in the bog
d) the acidity of the peat
e) the topography of the bog surface
f) the vegetation cover and species composition
g) the growth of plants
2. To practice field recording methods, analysing and interpreting raw data.
3. To carry out research on the sustainable us of Irish peat resources.

Motivators Show the Discovering the Wild Boglands DVD/distribute leaflets for background information/ display the IPCC Bogland Wildlife Wall Chart in class or laboratory. Visit the IPCC’s web site at www.

Preparation Prepare a lecture on overhead projection sheets on the ecology of bogs using the information provided in the Living Bog Ecology Slide Pack. Deliver to students before the bog visit.

Microscope Work: examine leaves of Sphagnum moss under the microscope to see the network of two cell types. Take a transverse section through the base of the stem of Bog Cotton to see aerenchyma tissue. Take a transverse section across the leaf of a Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) or Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) to see inrolling of the leaf margins and hairs on the underside of the leaf protecting pores from excessive water loss.

Plant Identification: familiarisation with plant and animal species of the bog using IPCC slides and/or keys with specimens of plants and animal droppings collected beforehand. Specimens should be dried and stored to avoid collecting fresh material each year.

Field Methods: familiarisation with the field data collecting methods/ecological methods using the Wake Up to Bogs Training DVD. Practice in the school grounds.

Evaluate a Peatland Interpretative Display
Visit a peatland interpretative display and evaluate.

Visit a Living Bog to Undertake a Bog Study
Fieldwork: using a line transect set up from the cut margin towards the centre of the bog as a guide you might test the following hypothesis:
1. That there will be difference in the height of the water table between the margin and the centre of the bog.
2. That there will be a difference in the moisture content of the peat in the two areas.
3. That there will be a difference in the humus content of the peat in the two areas.
4. That there will be a difference in acidity or pH of the peat in the two areas.
5. That there will be a difference in the topography of the bog surface in the two areas.
6. That there will be a difference in Sphagnum moss cover and other wet bog species between the two areas.
7. That there will be a difference in the height and density of Ling Heather and other dry bog species between the two areas.
Set up work targets for each member of the class group to do (i.e. record plant cover, measure the profile, take a peat sample for soil analysis etc.) and pool all the data collected.

Laboratory Work: Soils Analysis

Background Research Topics: students should be encouraged to carry out research using the internet, library books or making direct contact via questionnaire to peat producing companies, conservation groups and so on.

Computer Work: Use a computer spread sheet package to plot graphs of field data such as EXCEL or LOTUS. Use a word processing package to prepare a report and seminar materials such as Microsoft, Word for Windows or Powerpoint.

Communications and Reporting
Hold seminars to present research findings.

Report Prepare a report to include description of research and field methods used, the results of the laboratory and field work and the ecological insights and the conclusions drawn. It might also include analyses of the audio-visual and interpretative material examined by the group, the potential to restore the bog, the sustainable use of peatlands, and a note on conservation.

Revision Show the Wake Up to Bogs Training DVD.

Resources: visit IPCC’s Nature Shop to see the full selection of resources to support this study available from IPCC.

 


Study Programme – A-Level Biology and Leaving Cert Biology

Motivators
Show the Discovering the Wild Boglands DVD/distribute leaflets for background information/display the IPCC Bogland Wildlife poster in class or laboratory.

Preparation
Prepare a lecture on overhead projection sheets on the ecology of bogs using the information provided in this pack. Deliver to students before the bog visit.

Microscope Work: Examine leaves of Sphagnum moss under the microscope to see the network of two cell types. Also, take a transverse section through the base of the stem of bog cotton to see aerenchyma tissue. Take a transverse section across the leaf of Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) or Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) to see inrolling of the leaf margins and hairs on the underside of the leaf protecting stomata.

Familiarisation with at least five plant and five animal species on the bog using IPCC slide file and/or using keys with specimens collected beforehand.

Familiarisation with the data collecting methods/ecological methods and equipment to be used in the school grounds.

Site visit
Visit a peatland interpretative display and evaluate e.g. Peatlands Park, Bog of Allen Nature Centre, Connemara National Park, Glenveagh National Park etc

On the bog visit record a profile transect and quantitative vegetation descriptions along the transect using 1/2m2 quadrats. Set targets for each class group to do so many and pool all the data collected.

During the visit collect samples of peat for laboratory analysis, including moisture content, ash content, pH.

While on the bog a species list of animals should be recorded to make food chains and webs. Discuss interdependence between plants and animals.

If pools are present on or at the edge of the bog, quantitative pond dipping activities can be used as a basis to estimate the relative numbers of individuals at each trophic (feeding) level in a food chain or food web. A pyramid of numbers is produced, the length of each bar gives a measure of the relative numbers of each organism. The primary producers outnumber the primary consumers, which in turn outnumber secondary consumers. The data collected will only produce a crude estimate but it demonstrates the theory. Pyramids of biomass and energy should also be explained, and the advantages and disadvantages of each analysed.

Follow Up
The study should pay attention to the abiotic or non-living component of the ecosystem. This should include measurement of edaphic factors (concerning soil), climatic, topographic and other physical factors. These factors on a local level influence the distribution of species, and in close association with biotic controls such as competition and predation, influence the structure of communities and the nature of ecosystems. Factors to consider are the following: soil studies, water analysis, temperature of the ground, air and water, pH of the water, topography and shelter.

Preparation of report to include description of methods used, plotting and presentation of data using computer package if possible, analysis of data collected, the ecological insights and conclusions that can be drawn from the data. It might also include analyses of the audio-visual and interpretative material examined by the group and a note on conservation.