This week in Science 7/8, students wrapped up learning about continental drift by finishing the Pangaea Project. During the project, student scientists were asked to explain and give examples of how physical evidence (such as fossils, rocks, and glaciers) supports the theory that the earth has evolved over time. They began, much like Alfred Wegener in the 1920s, by noticing that some of the continents seem to fit together like puzzle pieces. After trying to reconstruct Pangaea based solely on this evidence, students concluded that more and different evidence was needed. That led to a whole class discussion during which students identified fossil, rock, and glacial evidence. After analyzing the locations of the new evidence and given models of the continents, students were able to successfully reconstruct Pangaea as it may have looked 200 million years ago. Now that students have an understanding that continents are indeed drifting, it’s time to investigate why they are drifting and what mechanism causes the drift. This “mechanism” will help us understand and explore the earth changing processes of plate tectonics and the earth shaping effects of the different plate boundaries in the upcoming weeks.
This week in Science 6, students have been applying their knowledge of geologic time to create Earth History Brochures, an art project that challenges student scientists to make an informational and artistic brochure highlighting the major events, life forms, and time periods of Earth’s history. Some noteworthy discoveries include the time period when an important index fossil (trilobites) lived, when Earth’s atmosphere became filled with oxygen from stromatolite bacteria paving the way for the largest biological diversification in history (Cambrian explosion), the fact that dinosaurs were alive relatively recently (up to 65 million years ago), and when the first homo sapien ancestors evolved (about 200,000 years ago.)