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OBIS Welcome

Welcome to OBIS

OBIS is an outdoor program that offers young people fun and challenging opportunities to investigate ecological relationships in their local environment.

The 97 OBIS activities, which take youngsters outdoors to investigate biology and to increase their environmental awareness can be used together or individually.

Examples of OBIS Activities

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Animal Diversity

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Using sweep nets, the youngsters sample and compare the insects living in two different areas: a managed lawn and a weedy area.

  • Time 65 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size8 or more
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Animals in a Grassland

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In this introductory activity, use sweep nets to sample the variety of animals living in lawns.

  • Time 45 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Beachcombing

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Search for evidence of animal and plant life as beachcombers on a sandy beach and speculate on the origins of their finds.

  • Time 35 min. or more
  • Age 6 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Bean Bugs

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Learn how to census a population of organisms too numerous to count.

  • Time 50 min
  • Age 10-12 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Habitats of the Pond

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Teams hunt for organisms in different areas of a pond or lake. The term habitat is introduced.

  • Time 40-50 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size12-15 per leader
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How Many Organisms Live Here?

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Using homemade sampling gear, participants estimate the numbers of organisms living in a small section of a pond.

  • Time 45-50 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size16 per leader
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Litter Critters

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After searching for small animals living in the ground, use the OBIS Litter Critter Wheels to "match" the catch.

  • Time 75 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeSmall or large
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Plant Hunt

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Participants collect and sort leaf samples to determine how many species of plants grow in the activity site.

  • Time 40-50 min
  • Age 10 and older
  • Group SizeSmall and large
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Shake It!

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Try to find a community that matches a "mystery community" by shaking the animals out of different trees and shrubs.

  • Time 30 to 40 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Water Holes to Mini-Ponds

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Observe and compare changes that take place in unfertilized and fertilized water holes. This activity requires regular visits to monitor the water holes for eight to ten weeks.

  • Time 40-60 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeSmall and large
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What Lives Here?

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Discover the plants and animals that live in and around a water environment.

  • Time 45-60 min
  • Age 8 and older
  • Group SizeAny size
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Ants

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Investigate the behavior of ants.

  • Time 40-60 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeGroups of 8-12
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Attract a Fish

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Explore the behavior of minnows by "fishing" with a variety of potential baits and lures.

  • Time 35-45 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Birdfeeder

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Construct birdfeeders and set them up at home, at school, or at camp, and investigate bird behavior.

  • Time 45 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Cardiac Hill

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Using heart rate as an indicator, the youngsters establish the maximum steepness for a footpath.

  • Time 50-60 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeUp to 16
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For the Birds

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Investigate bird behavior by feeding pigeons, ducks, jays, sparrows or sea gulls.

  • Time 50 min
  • Age 8 and up
  • Group SizeDepends on birds
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Hold a Hill

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Investigate the relationship between erosion and slope.

  • Time 50-60 minutes
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Jay Play

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After discovering the food-color preference of jays, try to change this preference by salting the food of that color.

  • Time Depends on the birds
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size10 per leader
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Mapping a Study Site

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Using a mapping technique, become familiar with the major features of their activity site.

  • Time 45-50 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size2-4 per area
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Out of Control

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Release a portion of lawn from human control and then observe the resulting changes over the next few months.

  • Time 3 visits, weeks apart
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Salt Water Revival

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During a low tide, create an artificial high tide and observe its effects on marine animals.

  • Time 1-2 hours
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size small and large
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Super Soil

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Use a simple alum-profile test to compare local soils with a commercial garden mix for organic content.

  • Time 40-50 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size large and small
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Food Chain Game

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Investigate food chains by assuming the roles of animals that are part of a food chain.

  • Time 40 min
  • Age 9 and up
  • Group Size12 – 40
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Invent a Plant

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Construct models of plants that are adapted to living under specific environmental conditions.

  • Time 40-45 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Metric Capers

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Use metric units of measurement to measure various objects in their environment.

  • Time 40 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size8-30
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Plants Around the Building

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Discover how the environment around a building affects the growth of plants.

  • Time 30-40 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeAny size
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Population Game

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In a feeding game, participants find out how many deer can survive in a herd's "home range."

  • Time 40-50 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size10-50
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Seed Dispersal

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Find seeds, observe where they came from, discover how they are adapted for travel, and then modify a seed to model dispersal adaptations.

  • Time 30-50 min
  • Age 10 and older
  • Group SizeSmall and large
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Sensory Hi-Lo Hunt

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Use only senses to find the extremes of several environmental variables: wind, temperature, light, slope and moisture.

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Sound Off!

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Pretend to be animals that communicate by sound and try to find secret partners before being "captured" by a "predator." After this game, participants listen to real animals.

  • Time 30-40 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group Size15-30 players
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Sticklers

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Play a simulation game exploring concepts of habitat and distribution, then discover where real organisms live and how they are distributed.

  • Time 40-60 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeSmall and large
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Variation Game

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By playing simple games, investigate variations between individuals.

  • Time 40-60 min
  • Age 10 and up
  • Group SizeMedium or large
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Web It

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Investigate the behavior of spiders with the aid of spray misters, straws, and sweep nets.

  • Time 40-60 min
  • Age 8 and older
  • Group Size8-12 per group

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