This is a long-term inquiry activity in which students investigate locations they believe harbor cellulose-digesting microbes, collect samples, isolate them on selective media, and screen them for cellulase activity. These novel microbes may be useful for the production of cellulosic ethanol. In the process they learn about plating techniques, serial dilutions, symbiotic relationships and enzyme specificity. Two methods are provided, one focusing on isolation of pure microbial strains, the other focusing on finding symbiotic communities of microbes.
This activity with a lab report instructs students to solve and plot 160,000 years' worth of ice core data from the Vostok ice core using Excel or similar spreadsheets to analyze data. Students learn about ice cores and what they can tell us about past atmospheric conditions and the past atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4.
This video highlights research conducted at Woods Hole on how heat absorbed by the ocean and changes of ocean chemistry from human activities could lead to a tipping point for marine life and ecosystems. Includes ice bath experiment that models the tipping point of Arctic sea ice.
This energy game activity engages students in learning about energy sources. This game demonstrates that energy, the environment, and economics are closely tied together. During the course of the game and in the discussion afterward, students learn the concepts of scarcity, opportunity cost, net energy profit, law of diminishing returns, and that availability does not mean usefulness.
In this activity, students investigate how sea levels might rise when ice sheets and ice caps melt by constructing a pair of models and seeing the effects of ice melt in two different situations. Students should use their markers to predict the increase of water in each box before the ice melts.
The purpose of this activity is to identify global patterns and connections in environmental data contained in the GLOBE Earth Systems Poster, to connect observations made within the Earth Systems Poster to data and information at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and to understand the connections between solar energy and changes at the poles, including feedback related to albedo.
This video features University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher John Magnuson, who studies the ecology of freshwater systems. He explains the difference between weather and climate using data on ice cover from Lake Mendota in Madison, WI. Analysis of the data indicates a long-term trend that can be connected to climate change.
This interactive shows the different components of the ocean biological pump, i.e., how carbon in the form of either plankton or particles moves into the ocean's depths. It illustrates the situation at the surface, 0-100 meters, 100-500 meters, and below 500 meters.