Amazing Aerosols: Small Specks, Big Effects (Earth Science, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Ecology, Oceanography)

SOL: 2010 Earth Science (ES.1, ES.2, ES.7, ES.9, ES.10, ES.11, ES.12, ES.13); Elective: AP Environmental Science (Topics: 1.A-D, II.B, II.E, IV.C, VII.A,B, VII.C)

Even when our air looks clear, it contains billions of nano- to micron-scale solid particles and liquid droplets known as aerosols. Because they provide one of the greatest uncertainties in understanding natural and man-made changes in climate, aerosols are the subject of a wide spectrum of current scientific research. Aerosols are also a topic of intense interest among scientists exploring engineering approaches to correcting atmospheric and climate problems. In inquiry-based, hands-on activities, students will use satellite imagery and data, simulated cores, and probeware to examine the role of aerosols in ocean and atmospheric processes, climate trends, ecosystem health, desertification, watershed hydrology, and geoengineering research.

Lesson Requirement: MSiC instructor will need classroom access to the Internet for use of Google Earth and other web resources.

 


Climate Detectives: Live-ly Clues to Earth's Climate History (Earth Science, Biology, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Ecology, Oceanography

SOL: 2010 Earth Science (ES.1, ES.2, ES.10, ES.11, ES.12); 2010 Biology (BIO.7, BIO.8); Elective: AP Environmental Science (Topics: II.D, VII.B)

Living organisms have a fascinating array of adaptations for climate and for variations in temperature and humidity, but what else can they tell us about earth's vital mysteries? Explore how living and fossil plants and animals provide important clues to climate trends, tectonic plate movements, and changing conditions in land, oceans, and atmosphere through our planet's long history.

 


Forays with Forams (Earth Science, Biology, AP Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Oceanography)

SOL: 2010 Earth Science (ES.1, ES.2, ES.8, ES.9, ES.10); 2010 Biology (BIO.1, BIO.7, BIO.8); Elective: AP Environmental Science (Topics II.A, II.D, VII.B); Elective: AP Biology (Enduring Understanding 2.C, 2.D, 4.A, 4.B)

Foraminifera, nicknamed "forams," are single-celled organisms that have inhabited earth's marine and brackish waters for at least 550 million years, with thousands of species in both the fossil record and modern waters. Although forams are small, their importance to science is enormous! Because of their diversity, abundance, and sensitivity to environmental conditions, forams are used in petroleum exploration, stratigraphy, archaeology, coastal and estuarine ecology, and palaeooceanography. They are especially important indicators of changing conditions in oceans and estuaries, and of local and global climate change. Using hands-on activities and 21st century technology, students will explore how forams help reconstruct ancient ocean conditions and track human impacts on the Chesapeake Bay.

 


 

Tornado Alley: Understanding and Forecasting Severe Weather (Earth Science, Environmental Science)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Earth Science (ES.3, ES.13), Environmental Science

Severe weather, including thunderstorms and tornadoes, impacts the state of Virginia on a regular basis. In this lesson students explore the nature of severe weather phenomena as they learn how scientists work together to collect data, make observations and draw conclusions about upcoming and past weather events. They will take on the role of virtual storm chasers as they analyze a weather dataset to determine if a supercell thunderstorm is likely to “drop” a tornado. Students will use laptop or Chromebook computers to investigate Doppler Radar Images to forecast a developing tornado and determine its strength on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

 


Underground Escapades (Earth Science, Environmental Science, Ecology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Earth Science (ES.1, ES.2, ES.7, ES.8)

Virginia's caves have long fascinated scientists, explorers, and tourists. Besides their obvious beauty, the Commonwealth's karst landscapes provide homes for unusual living species and major water supplies for many citizens. However, this amazing terrain is highly susceptible to pollution because of the way water flows in karst. Join us in an exciting underground journey where student karst detectives will create caverns and sinkholes, track contamination in a karst water supply, and solve the mysteryof a polluted spring.