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Diatoms Measure Climate Change
http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/clim10.sci.ess.earthsys.diatom/

WGBH Educational Foundation, Teachers' Domain

This video segment, adapted from NOVA, examines one method scientists use to understand ancient climate conditions in Africa.


Video length: 1:56 minutes.

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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
Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
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

  • The resource includes extensive teaching tips on its webpage.
  • Video can be used as a hook at the beginning of a lesson about paleoclimatology but should not be used to illustrate the science of diatoms.

About the Science

  • To test the idea that eastern Africa had undergone rapid swings in climate - from wet to dry to wet again - over a period that began 10 million years ago, German scientists study fossils of tiny one-celled aquatic organisms called diatoms.
  • The layers of diatom fossils in eastern African rock formations suggest that this part of Africa experienced wet and dry periods over time, supporting a new idea that climatic variability may have shaped human evolution.

About the Pedagogy

  • The short video gives a good example of how scientists use fossil evidence to develop climate reconstruction for a region.
  • The video includes a background essay, discussion questions, teaching tips and connections to standards.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The video is not of sufficient resolution for classroom projection. Students might want to watch it individually on their computers. It can be download through free registration with Teachers' Domain.

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