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Educator Guide: Lab 1- Launching an Expedition

Nicole Davi, Pat Pringle, Frank Wattenberg, The Science Education Resource Center

Students are charged with thinking about what it takes to 'do science'. They are introduced to the science of dendrochronology and learn how tree-ring science is executed.

This activity takes 90 minutes

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Student activity-answer sheet provided.
  • Some guidance may be needed for student exploration of research sites and data recording.
  • Good reading skills are required to access information in some of the text.
  • This activity is great for those that may be interested in pursuing science as a career.
  • This activity has an extensive Educator Guide.
  • This activity is one of five in the TREX Tree Ring Expeditions resources.
  • Pair with another activity or video that includes diverse scientists to inspire/motivate diverse students.

About the Science

  • Students learn about dendrochronology - the study of tree rings and what they can tell us about past climates.
  • By studying these trees, scientists learn about environments and climates hundreds-to-thousands of years in the past. Scientists have used trees from some sites to reconstruct temperature variability of the past two thousand years.
  • Students utilize peer-reviewed research to investigate how the field has been advancing.
  • This activity allows students to understand what field science is like in the field of dendrochronology. They will learn how and why different trees in different locations around the world are ideal for this kind of research.
  • This activity helps students learn about the scientific method and how we know what we know.
  • Students learn how two researchers became scientists - they learn about the challenges and rewards of being a researcher and that not every researcher's path is a straight line. It even includes a section on funding.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This resource is intended to introduce students to (a) tree-ring science and (b) the benefits and challenges of being an active scientist in that field and other fields. As such, it does not contain much scientific content per se but its content about science is well done and very engaging.

About the Pedagogy

  • Very well written and follows the scientific process of inquiry.
  • Students learn what dendrochronolgy is, then watch two videos on two researcher's career paths. Lastly, they utilize the Paleoclimatology data map to investigate their local region and what kind of dendrochronolgy research has occurred there, incorporating some place-based learning.
  • The student activity sheet includes critical thinking oriented questions.
  • The students also utilize Google Earth 360 to explore tree-ring research sites.
  • Students begin to learn about researching skills for peer-reviewed journals using Google Scholar.
  • This activity has many different approaches to learning, from videos to interactive data maps - there are attributes that suit many different learning styles.
  • This activity can be done in a virtual learning environment.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Lab 1 of this series is easy to follow, well structured for students, engaging, informative and instructional.
  • Users explore videos, databases and examine photographs for data collection.

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