Module - Changing Biosphere, Unit 1: Introduction to the Geologic Timeline & Mass Extinctions
I had the students complete preparatory reading about the 6th mass extinction as provided by the unit as homework. I then had them take an online quiz which was modified from the "Reading Quiz" provided in the unit.
I modified the geological timeline activity. This unit suggests having a list of important geological events which include the dates on these events. Student then organized the dates on a timeline. However, I decided to include major evolutionary event, but to not include any dates. I have a large class, so I made little sets of cards that had one event per card. Each group (4 students) got one full set of event cards. As a group, they then had to arrange them into order. Then I had 8 students come to the front of the classroom. I gave each one a sheet of paper that had one event on it in large letters. They were then give about 2 minutes to organize themselves in what they thought was the correct order of the events. Once they were in order, I had their classmate suggest how they might move locations. I allowed suggestions and permitted them to move until they had the correct order. I then alerted them to the giant timeline I had drawn on the board behind them, and the group at the front had to show where on the timeline they thought their event went. As expected, they spread out relatively evenly across the 4.6 billion years. However, most of the evens were actually from the last 500 million years, so then I adjusted them, by directing the students to their actual locations on the timeline. This ended up making about 7 of the students all clustered tightly together after the Cambrian explosion, and really helped the get a better grasp of the history of life on earth.
I then followed the "Marine Diversity and Mass Extinction" part of the unit as described. This is not material I normally cover in class, but added some nice data that students were able to interpret.
Module – Carbon, Climate, and Energy Resources, Unit 2:The Carbon Cycle
I assigned the homework videos that came with this unit, and I made my own version of the homework assessment that was all multiple choice so could be graded through our learning management system software. I felt as though the videos were a good refresher for the students on the basics of carbon and greenhouse gases.
In class, we did Part 4, the Carbon Cycle game. I followed the instructions except for the following modifications: 1) I left out the "crust" and the "mantle" sheets in the game, and 2) I rewrote most of the descriptions for the game so that they were easier to understand for biology students. I found them to be very focused on geology, and not understandable for a student with no background in geology. This games involves students rolling a dice, and then based on the dice roll, moving to different carbon reservoirs. It worked well because students were engaged, and it help them read through the material and see different examples of how carbon could move from one reservoir to the next. It made a topic that is often pretty dry for students more interactive as they were essentially reading a story of what happened to their carbon.
In class, we also did Part 5, sizing up reservoirs. For this part, we followed the instructions. I think this part was great, because it allowed to see why even though the atmosphere is the smallest carbon reservoir it is so important in global climate change.
Module – Ocean Sustainability, Unit 2: Ocean Acidification
Because of time constraints, I did not have the students do the pre-class assignment.
In-class we followed the unit as written. I have found that ocean acidification is sometimes tricky for students to understand. I think this unit helped to clear up why oceans become more acidic with increasing CO2 and how this could affect organisms that make calcium carbonate shells.