S. Henderson, S. Holman, L. Mortensen (eds. modified), UCAR
Activity takes one to two 45-minute class periods. Materials that are needed are tweezers, pie pans, confetti/paper dots and soil.Discuss this Resource»
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About Teaching Climate Literacy
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A) Processes that shape the Earth.
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- Questions like "Why does climate change over time?" need to be addressed after stimulating the students with this activity.
- Educators should show an image of a real soil core so students can differentiate between the model and reality.
- Educators should note that all soil layers do not have unique pollen, and that pollen is not often well preserved in sediments.
- Educators need to be explicit about what is modeled and what is real; e.g. potting soil is very different than a real soil sample from a lake from a certain time period.
- Educators should include a discussion on the difficulty of deciding on boundaries between sedimentation layers and touch on dating techniques of these layers. In the activity, dates are given but no explanation is provided.
- Keys to types of pollen and climate are found in tables and student answer sheets.
About the Science
- Great and quick way of teaching students how scientists reconstruct past climates using a good model for the real data that was obtained at two research sites.
- Activity does not offer enough background material or links to sources for more detailed information about palynology. Background readings that are suggested are grade-appropriate.
- There is no reference to the scientific paper or, at least, the actual pollen diagram for the Colorado core site.
- In order to teach students critical thinking skills, educators should be clear that some pollen might not be complete and only pieces can be found, which makes the recognition of a species difficult and might skew the distribution.
About the Pedagogy
- An effective, hands-on, inquiry-type activity that demands student thinking and data analysis.
- Well-designed activity requiring an adequate amount of time to teach the concept.
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