Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Activity takes one 45-minute class period. Computer access is necessary.Discuss this Resource»
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About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing 3c
Other materials addressing 7e
Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines
Other materials addressing:
A) Organisms, populations, and communities.
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.
Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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Notes From Our Reviewers
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- Educators should point out the relationship between the discussed variables and caribou population: When insect activity increases (i.e. mosquitoes), a loss of blood results in a decrease in caribou population. When snow levels increase, energy consumption increases and inability to escape predators results in a decrease in caribou population.
- Educators should explain the relationship between increasing snowfall and arctic warming, which is counter-intuitive and not explained.
- Students need to understand percent increase and decrease in order to complete this activity; an example calculation is provided.
- Educators could add other resources that explain the effect of insects and snowfall on caribou population and discuss with students. See, for example: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF13/1344.html.
About the Science
- Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.
- Students explore the causal relationships between insect activity, which is affected by summer temperatures, and winter snow depth on caribou population.
- Data output is easily accessible to most middle school students.
- Comments from expert scientist: This is a great and exciting activity, although highly simplified it will serve the students and teachers with much needed models. It also introduces students to three major areas of concern- Population biology, phenology and climate change. Data sources or studies referenced in this activity have not been provided.
About the Pedagogy
- Suggested assessment is to have students create a board game about seasonal migration with the conditions the caribou might encounter and the positive or negative effects.
- Student activity sheet provided is well-constructed and easy to use.
- Educator references show a sample data output as well as the results of all nine variable combinations.
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