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Educator Guide: Lab 1 - Launching an Expedition

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Summary and Learning Objectives

In Lab 1, students are charged with thinking about what it takes to "do science." They are introduced to the science of dendrochronology and learn how tree-ring science is done. What tools are used? What techniques can be used to prepare and analyze tree core samples to reveal the nature of past climate? They see how tree core samples are obtained and processed, and take a virtual tour of a tree-ring laboratory. Then they watch videos of two accomplished dendrochronologists describe their career path and the role serendipity has played. They take a virtual trip to a tree-ring lab and then consider what kinds of special trees scientists seek to help them answer questions about how our climate has changed in the past. Students then explore the tree-ring datasets available from the International Tree-Ring Databank (IRTB) and focus on the work of one of the science investigators, and their peer-reviewed research, to help them understand the nature of science.

Note: Please download the Student Activity Sheet (pdf or Word version) found in the Printable Materials section of this document if you wish to have students respond to Stop and Think questions as they go through the lab.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this lab, students will be able to:

  • describe what the science of dendrochronology is
  • explain what types of trees give dendrochronologists the best chance to reconstruct past climate change.
  • locate a tree-ring dataset from the International Tree-Ring Databank, and find a peer review publication that is associated with that dataset.

  • Activity Overview and Teaching Materials

    Detailed overview of what students will do in each part of the lab and how long it will take.

    Printable Materials

    Download and print files needed for each part of the lab, including student handouts and answer keys.

    Teaching Notes and Tips

    What you need to prepare ahead of time, and general recommendations for classroom implementation.

    References and Additional Resources