Decomposition project - A joint project for students in Israel and the USA as part of the LTER-EDU program.
LTER-EDU is an educational project that offers school students an opportunity to be partners in the LTER global monitoring effort. The students collect meteorological data and monitor vegetation, arthropods, butterflies, birds and other ecological data, which is uploaded onto an educational website, enabling other students to participate in data analysis and to draw conclusions based on all the data gathered.
Currently monitoring already takes place in 17 schools in Israel. During 2012 cooperation with one school in Portland Oregon was initiated and is now in its beginning phase. Educators from Europe; Bulgaria, Greece and Portugal have been trained to establish LTER-EDU centers and begin monitoring with their students during the coming school year.
One important component of the program is decomposition monitoring taking place in different educational sites. The decomposition of plant litter is an important recycling process in the ecosystem by which litter is decomposed into simple components that are released into the soil and absorbed by plants. Litter monitoring includes checking the growth rate of trees and bushes; tracking the production (quantity and composition) of litter accumulated on the ground over the year; tracking the rate of litter decomposition; and examining the small arthropods that live in the litter layer and play an important role in its decomposition.
Long-term climatic-ecological monitoring and cooperation with students who gather data and study their environment in different sites, supports the development of various dimensions of ecological literacy, particularly the temporal and spatial dimensions. Building educational monitoring networks and understanding the complexity of ecological systems may contribute to sharing responsibly for a change.
The LTER-EDU program and the decomposing protocol will be introduced in an innovative and interactive way using the web. Participants will be offered to join the collaborative monitoring effort in their sites.