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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).

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Scientific observations indicate that global climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and will change in the future. The magnitude and direction of this change is not the same at all locations on Earth.
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4d
Natural processes driving Earth’s long-term climate variability do not explain the rapid climate change observed in recent decades. The only explanation that is consistent with all available evidence is that human impacts are playing an increasing role in climate change. Future changes in climate may be rapid compared to historical changes.
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4f

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
The quality of life of individuals and societies is affected by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
Energy affects quality of life .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

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

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

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.

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