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Interactive Geologic Timeline Activity
http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/cc/sequence/day15.html

Environmental Literacy and Inquiry Working Group at Lehigh University

In this learning activity, students use a web-based geologic timeline to examine temperature, CO2 concentration, and ice cover data to investigate how climate has changed during the last 715 million years.

Activity takes one to two lesson periods (possibly homework assignment).

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Performance Expectation, 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 4 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4d
Evidence is that human impacts are playing an increasing role in climate change
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4f

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
The effects of changes in Earth's energy system are often not immediately apparent.
Other materials addressing:
2.7 Effects of changes in Earth's energy system .
Humans live within Earth's ecosystems.
Other materials addressing:
3.6 Humans live within Earth's ecosystems..

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Review timeline with students prior to starting lesson.
  • When downloading geological timeline, make students aware of the slider bar on the bottom of the timeline to extend the eras and time periods. It is difficult to see the slider in certain browsers.

About the Science

  • The CO2 record shows that Earth's climate and carbon cycle are closely intertwined over the last half billion years and high CO2 levels have been responsible for warmer climates.
  • Use in conjunction with the following video: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/ancient_earth/Snowball_Earth
  • Comments from expert scientist: Gets students actually playing with data (CO2, temperature through time). The graph paper provided for the exercise is skewed (the coordinate system is off, stretched at the most recent time interval). Also, the graphics are very 1990s.

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity includes student and teacher materials in pdf format as well as background readings and assessments.
  • Lesson, as with others in this series, is well-organized and supports navigating around the timeline, but doesn't support understanding the timeline.
  • Activity might be difficult to use for a non-expert teacher because it lacks a clear interpretation of the sequence of the geological past and interpretation of how the CO2 concentration impacts the climate of the past.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Educator needs to register (no cost) to gain access to teacher materials and assessments.
  • No preconceptions or misconceptions are listed in this activity - so educators might preview the lesson in the teachers' guide prior to implementing to assure appropriateness for their students.
  • All necessary materials are technically correct but additional materials are necessary to make this activity engaging and effective for non-expert teacher use.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Performance Expectations: 1

MS-ESS2-2: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS2.A2:The planet’s systems interact over scales that range from microscopic to global in size, and they operate over fractions of a second to billions of years. These interactions have shaped Earth’s history and will determine its future.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 4

Stability and Change, Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity

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.

MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems

MS-C2.3:Phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.

MS-C3.1:Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Asking Questions and Defining Problems

MS-P4.1:Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.

MS-P6.3:Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) 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.

MS-P1.3:Ask questions to determine relationships between independent and dependent variables and relationships in models.

High School

Performance Expectations: 1

HS-ESS2-2: Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth's surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS2.A3:The geological record shows that changes to global and regional climate can be caused by interactions among changes in the sun’s energy output or Earth’s orbit, tectonic events, ocean circulation, volcanic activity, glaciers, vegetation, and human activities. These changes can occur on a variety of time scales from sudden (e.g., volcanic ash clouds) to intermediate (ice ages) to very long-term tectonic cycles.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Patterns, Cause and effect, Stability and Change

HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

Science and Engineering Practices: 4

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.3:ask questions to determine relationships, including quantitative relationships, between independent and dependent variables

HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

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-P8.2:Compare, integrate and evaluate sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a scientific question or solve a problem.


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