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1998. GEMS. The schoolyard, be it rural green or urban asphalt, is the environment to be investigated. Many ecological, environmental, and life science concepts are explored. Students learn biological sampling techniques; mapping and related mathematical skills are developed. In addition to temporarily collecting samples in "shake boxes," special investigations focus on ants and spiders, and can be extended in many directions. Students learn that a bush may be home to a "community" of interacting plants and animals. Based on their observations and findings, students select a small area as their favorite location. Environmental writings about their favorite location crowns the closing activity. This guide is designed to spark student curiosity about the patterns and interactions in nature, beginning with their immediate environment-the schoolyard. 124 pages, soft cover, b&w photos and illustrations. Five activities, grades 3-6.