Counting With Quadrants

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Millions of organisms can live in and around a body of water. In this outdoor activity, learners will create their own quadrant, a tool scientists use to estimate the number of organisms in an ecosystem without having to count each one. Then, learners can take their quadrant outside and conduct their own measurements of biodiversity around their community. Step-by-step instructions are included with photos along with safety recommendations. Activity guide includes a "What's going on?" explanation and relevant connections to the benefits of biodiversity and how scientists measure it.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • 4-8 bendable straws
  • 1-2 meters of thin string
  • Scissors
  • Waterproof shoes or boots (optional)
  • Glue (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
      • Biosphere
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Collection
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DIY Science Apps


  • , The Regents of the University of California, 2015

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, DRL1114663