Backyard Mystery, a free curriculum about pathogens

A free curriculum for grades 5 – 7

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About Backyard Mystery

Backyard Mystery LogoBackyard Mystery is part of the STEMware™ project, “Collaborative Research Strategies: STEMware™ – Designing Immersive Biology Learning Simulations for Formal and Informal Settings”. The curriculum was developed by Dr. Peggy G. Lemaux and her assistant, Science Communication Specialist Ms. Barbara Alonso at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Jenne Stoanker at Stanford University has also helped in development of the curriculum.

How the Curriculum Works

This curriculum is intended for participants in grades 5-7. The curriculum adheres to National Science Education Standards in Life Sciences. Activities are organized for 8 to 20 participants. The curriculum features four different mysteries in the backyard, represented by four different panels.Backyard Mystery panels

For each panel, a subgroup of participants have to identify the problem – what doesn’t look “right”, i.e., wilting plants, a sick animal, a friend who looks ill and a dying fish.

The mystery challenge is to figure out what “culprit” or pathogen is responsible for the problem. Participants will be introduced to severalPaper activities “cool tools” that can be used to win pieces of a puzzle that will help them identify the mystery culprit. These tools can be explored with either hands-on or paper activities. Participants will also learn about what careers they could pursue related to curriculum content.

The curriculum is designed in two formats to accommodate different afterschool learning situations: Expanded and Combined.

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