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Now You “Sea” Ice, Now You Don’t: Penguin communities shift on the Antarctic Peninsula

Beth Simmons, Palmer LTER

In this activity, students investigate the shifting of three penguin communities in response to climate change.

Activity takes about 3.5 hours or five 45-minute class periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 4 Performance Expectations, 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 8 Cross Cutting Concepts, 12 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3a
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7e

Energy Literacy

Other materials addressing:
2.4 Water stores and transfers energy.
Other materials addressing:
3.6 Humans live within Earth's ecosystems..

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:A) Questioning
Other materials addressing:
A) Questioning.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:A) Organisms, populations, and communities
Other materials addressing:
A) Organisms, populations, and communities.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.

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

  • Educator might want to present a map of Antarctica and locate the regions discussed in the activity.
  • In an upper-level ecology course, this could be a case study for an ecology or global change unit.
  • The lesson would also be a good culminating activity allowing students to demonstrate their grasp of how various environmental factors influence each other and impact resident fauna.

About the Science

  • Very strong description of science content: population dynamics of three species of Antarctic penguin (Adelie, Chinstrap, Gentoo) and relevant climatic factors.
  • The claim "strong evidence suggests that observed changes in Earth's climate are largely due to human activities" can be cited from recent IPCC reports.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - sound, quantitative values (as far as I researched, the temperature data in the article are still correct from latest pubs.)
    - Like the use of different "specialist" groups

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity uses the jigsaw approach to help students learn about the complex climatic issues related to shifting penguin populations on the West Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Activity has flexible structure, such that the units can be easily broken up into pre-classroom, classroom, and post-classroom activities as time requires.
  • Interesting and engaging student materials.
  • Students may need some background knowledge about Antarctica and penguins before the activity.
  • Links to references are provided to help educator prepare for the activity, or to further engage students with regional knowledge of the penguin populations.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • A very thorough and informative set of teacher background materials is supplied. All parts of the activity (background, student sheets, etc.) are included in the pdf. Easy to use.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

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