InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Changing Biosphere
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The materials are free and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Apr 20, 2017

Summary

This module will give students a series of experiences exploring relationships among changes in the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. By studying a series of historical and current examples of the interconnections between organisms and their environments, students will be able to discuss the dynamic and evolving nature of ecosystems, explain the relationship between diversity and stability, and analyze the concept of ecosystem health in a changing world. The overarching goal is to have students synthesize this information to develop a working knowledge of how scientists view humans as actors in natural systems. Our understanding of the long-term consequences of the ways in which we engineer and manipulate our environment is informed by our scientific study of Earth systems.

Strengths of the Module

This module address macroevolution and extinction from an interdisciplinary perspective. This module is based on an Earth systems approach in which students become familiar with fundamental geological and biological concepts while exploring critical linkages and feedbacks among Earth's major spheres (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere).

This knowledge of the geologic record of biodiversity and how Earth's interrelated systems have responded to past changes in the natural environment will provide an important context for addressing threats to biodiversity facing modern societies.

Module activities will be designed to actively engage students in using scientific data and disciplinary practices while addressing issues of current and historical Earth systems. These activities will require students to go beyond simply comprehending the material by asking them to apply these concepts in novel ways to solve problems.

A great fit for courses in:

  • biology
  • environmental studies
  • environmental science
  • Earth science
  • historical geology
  • global change
  • introductory paleontology

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These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. At the top of each page, you can click on the NGSS logo to see the specific connections. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more about the process of alignment and how to use InTeGrate materials to implement the NGSS.

NGSS in this Module

The Changing Biosphere Module aligns well with the NGSS Cross cutting concepts: Patterns, Cause and Effect, and Stability and Change, as well as the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: The History of Planet Earth, Earth's Materials and and Human Impacts on Earth Systems, Middle level and High school teachers could adapt the module to focus more on process and less on content. In this module the students have the opportunity to work through patterns in historical data, learn how the Earth system operates, use fossils to analyze possible cause and effect changes in a system as well as how change impacts stability in systems, and the human impact on the Earth system as cause and effect of environmental changes. Students analyze changes found over time in horse fossils and use systems thinking to infer the relationship between climate change and evolution. Students draw conclusions about the impact of human activity on the stability of the Earth system and associated future impacts to the Earth's system.

This module is designed to make students aware that organisms and the environment are intertwined and have been since life began on our planet. The module thus begins with lessons from deep time and brings these ideas forward to provide a long-term perspective on the role of humans in altering our biosphere, both directly and indirectly via alteration of Earth's other major systems. ​

Supported community developed, nationally-recognized Earth Science Literacy Principles:

  • Earth Science Literacy 1.1: Earth scientists find solutions to society's needs.
  • Earth Science Literacy 1.2: Earth scientists use a large variety of scientific principles to understand how our planet works.
  • Earth Science Literacy 1.5: Earth scientists use their understanding of the past to forecast Earth's future.
  • Earth Science Literacy 8.1: Natural hazards result from natural Earth processes.
  • Earth Science Literacy 8.7: Humans cannot eliminate natural hazards, but can engage in activities that reduce their impacts.
  • Earth Science Literacy 8.8: An Earth science-literate public is essential for reducing risks from natural hazards.

Supported community developed, nationally-recognized Ocean Science Literacy Principles:

  • Ocean Science Literacy Principle 6 F: Coastal regions are susceptible to natural hazards (such as tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones, sea level change, and storm surges).

Supported Essential Principles of Climate Science:

  • 7 C: Incidents of extreme weather are projected to increase as a result of climate change. Many locations will see a substantial increase in the number of heat waves they experience per year and a likely decrease in episodes of severe cold. Precipitation events are expected to become less frequent but more intense in many areas, and droughts will be more frequent and severe in areas where average precipitation is projected to decrease.

Addressed community developed, nationally-recognized Atmospheric Science Literacy Principles:

  • Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 7.4: Weather forecasts and predictions of future climate assist us in implementing mitigation strategies and adaptation to new climatic conditions.
  • Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 7.5: Citizens need to become educated about Earth's atmosphere to make informed decisions on issues at local, regional, and global scales.


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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »