Since 1999, 9th grade biology students at Roland Park Country School  have been conducting an on-going research project to investigate the soil ecology of microbes.  Funded by grants from the Carey Institute for Ecosystem Studies, the Paul F-Brandwein Institute, the ReliaStar/Northern Life "Unsung Heroes" program, the Toshiba America Foundation, the Captain Planet Foundation, and the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens/Fuji Film Environmental Excellence Award, this annual project has had and continues to have 5 major goals:


        "Little Things" has served and continues to serve as the culminating activity in the spring for the RPCS 9th grade biology courses.  Participants learn a wide variety of basic research skills and protocols for studying the role of microbes in the soil, including:

 Moreover, they also learn how to place their investigations within the context of the larger scientific community, and recently, the project has been able to move beyond simply developing and implementing a curriculum for studying the fundamentals of soil ecology and has begun to examine the impact that humans and human usage have on the microbe ecology of the immediate urban landscape in which our school resides.  Recent projects have included such topics as:

The students have already begun to document the impact of many of the school's landscaping and grounds keeping practices, and several have now made presentations to the administration that have resulted in new, greener choices when it comes to the care of our campus lawns and wooded areas.  As their research enters its second decade, one can only imagine what they will continue to find!

(click the photos below for short [350K] QuickTime movie clips of the various processes)