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The Gaia Theory - Daisyworld Flash Animation

Oracle Think Quest

This simulation was created by a student for students based on the Gaia Theory using the simulation of Daisyworld. Students will learn the concept of albedo and be able to discuss implications of changes in the system.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

The interconnectedness of Earth’s systems means that a significant change in any one component of the climate system can influence the equilibrium of the entire Earth system. Positive feedback loops can amplify these effects and trigger abrupt changes in the climate system. These complex interactions may result in climate change that is more rapid and on a larger scale than projected by current climate models.
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Individual organisms survive within specific ranges of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and sunlight. Organisms exposed to climate conditions outside their normal range must adapt or migrate, or they will perish.
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e on Earth depends on, is shaped by, and affects climate
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Because this resource doesn't provide students with questions to promote critical thinking, instructors will need to develop questions on their own. Instructors could potentially assign students to two groups: those who agree with the Gaia theory and those who don't. Each group could do background reading, develop their argument, and have a debate.
  • The terms "positive feedback" and "negative feedback" and how they are used in Geosciences need to be explained.

About the Science

  • The Gaia theory was first proposed by a man named James Lovelock who was roundly criticized for implying that the organisms of the biosphere collectively maintain the surface environment of the Earth. Daisyworld is a very simple planet that Lockwood created to illustrate the Gaia Theory with only two species of life on its surface - white and black daisies. The planet is assumed to be well-watered, with all rain falling at night so that the days are cloudless. The atmospheric water vapor and CO2 are assumed to remain constant so that the greenhouse effect of the planet does not change. The key aspect of Daisyworld is that the two species have different colors and thus different albedos. In this way, the daisies can alter the temperature of the surface where they are growing and through changes in abundances of these two species, maintain a relatively stable climate.

About the Pedagogy

  • No pedagogical tool provided along with this resource. However, the CLEAN collection has background information (http://www3.geosc.psu.edu/~dmb53/DaveSTELLA/Daisyworld/daisyworld_model.htm) to support instructors in implementing this simulation.
  • The animations and explanations do an effective job at explaining the Gaia Theory through an example. However, educators will have to prompt students asking questions to think critically about the simulation and the implications.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Clean, easy graphic to use with students.

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