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I live in southeastern Wisconsin. I recently had a scout in my troop ask about earning Environmental Science MB. He is of course a Life scout trying to wrap up his last couple of required merit badges and his project. Because everything is dormant and will soon be covered in snow, I recommended that he wait until spring to work on this merit badge because he would not see much in his study areas for requirement 4.
My question is, could a scout actually complete requirement 4 in winter, in a northern state? I do not want to add to a requirement, but to me, trying to complete this requirement in winter, when there would be virtually no animal life, does not really meet the intent of identifying biodiversity and populations.
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Req. 4b says in part:
Make at least three visits to each of the two study areas (for a total of six visits), staying for at least 20 minutes each time, to observe the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem. Space each visit far enough apart that there are readily apparent differences in the observations. Keep a journal that includes the differences you observe. Then, write a short report that adequately addresses your observations, including how the differences of the study areas might relate to the differences noted, and discuss this with your counselor.
I would ask the Scout how he plans to "space each visit far enough apart that there are readily apparent differences in the observations."
I live in the Houston area so I have to mow my lawn year-round. This has never come up here. I grew up in New Jersey, though, and I could imagine a journal that shows a sketch of the study area - a square on a white sheet of paper - with notes that the snow appeared powdery on the first visit but had a crust the next time.
- Bronze Palm
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As a MBC for this merit badge, I would say it is doable. You can get variable weather around Wisconsin even in the winter.
- Bronze Palm
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Go ice fishing while you observe. What sort of fish did you catch, what sort of fish did other people catch? How do fish survive the winter? How are they different?
What about trees? Some trees have leaves, some have neeedles -- how do these types of trees survive the winter? What eats the trees? What lives around there? If you head out into the forest, you're bound to see some tracks. What tracks do you see, what animal left them?
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