Fireflies Blinking Out

(1 review)


A technician noticed that a long-term ecological experiment was accidentally collecting fireflies. What can 16 years of data tell us about firefly populations? Are they stable or declining?

Each Data Nugget comes with three student versions, based on the type of graphing skills required. Type A activities provide the graph for the students (allowing a focus on graph interpretation, making claims based on evidence, and explaining reasoning), Type B activities provide axis labels but requires students to graph the data, and Type C provides an unlabeled grid on which to draw a graph.

The supplemental resources for this lesson are extensive:

  • Grading Rubric
  • links to original research papers
  • interview with the researcher and
  • Datasets on Dataclassroom
  • R code on Github
  • A webinar related to this activity
  • Videos and powerpoints

We also really like that this lesson emphasizes the human element of science — we learn about the researcher, and how serendipity let us “discover” data that already existed.

Additional information

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NGSS STEM Practices

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PDF Download, Text/Web Page

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Reviews (1)

1 review for Fireflies Blinking Out

  1. LessonHiveAdmin

    Data Nuggets are free classroom activities, co-designed by scientists and teachers, designed to bring contemporary research and authentic data into the classroom. Data Nuggets include a connection to the scientist behind the data and the true story of their research. Each activity gives students practice working with “messy data” and interpreting quantitative information. Students are guided through the entire process of science, including identifying hypotheses and predictions, visualizing and interpreting data, making evidence based claims, and asking their own questions for future research. We strongly recommend them!

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