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.Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»
See how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts, 5 Science and Engineering Practices
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing 4d
Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
Notes From Our Reviewers
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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.
Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:
Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1
MS-LS4.A1:The collection of fossils and their placement in chronological order (e.g., through the location of the sedimentary layers in which they are found or through radioactive dating) is known as the fossil record. It documents the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of many life forms throughout the history of life on Earth.
Cross Cutting Concepts: 3
MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems
MS-C3.3: Proportional relationships (e.g., speed as the ratio of distance traveled to time taken) among different types of quantities provide information about the magnitude of properties and processes.
MS-C7.1: Explanations of stability and change in natural or designed systems can be constructed by examining the changes over time and forces at different scales, including the atomic scale.
Science and Engineering Practices: 6
MS-P1.6:Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles.
MS-P2.5:Develop and/or use a model to predict and/or describe phenomena.
MS-P3.4:Collect data to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer scientific questions or test design solutions under a range of conditions
MS-P4.4:Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.
MS-P6.1:Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict(s) and/or describe(s) phenomena.
MS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information (e.g. about a proposed object, tool, process, system) in writing and/or through oral presentations.
Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1
HS-LS4.C4:Changes in the physical environment, whether naturally occurring or human induced, have thus contributed to the expansion of some species, the emergence of new distinct species as populations diverge under different conditions, and the decline–and sometimes the extinction–of some species.
Cross Cutting Concepts: 4
HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.
HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.
HS-C3.1:The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs.
HS-C7.2:Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible.
Science and Engineering Practices: 5
HS-P1.6:Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory.
HS-P2.3:Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system
HS-P3.5:Make directional hypotheses that specify what happens to a dependent variable when an independent variable is manipulated.
HS-P6.2:Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
HS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (i.e., orally, graphically, textually, mathematically).