Today’s lesson focused on bridging student learning about extremophiles and our field trip set for this coming Monday. We set our sights on defining “extreme environments”, learning about what makes an environment extreme and also about how some organisms are specially adapted to live in such environments. The PowerPoint introduced students to the concept of a Bell-Shaped Curve, challenged them to articulate their own ideas about what constitutes extreme, and then provided an opportunity for discussion around how statisticians define “normal” and whether our own perspective about whether something is extreme necessarily involves judging an individual who looks or acts extreme. We concluded the lesson after slide 26 and will complete the slide deck tomorrow.
Today we focused on 8 factors that are commonly found in environments we consider to be extreme. Students began the lesson with an introduction to the bell curve and an brief explanation of the mean and standard deviation. Students then silently brainstormed three examples of things they consider extreme, with an explanation about why. During our share out, students were encouraged to consider whether the idea of “extreme” is relative. For example, we might regard a skydiver as someone who participates in an extreme sport. However, the skydiver might share a different perspective. Similarly, we might classify a polar bear as an extremophile, given it’s ability to live in extremely cold temperatures. However, the polar bear, being unable to live comfortably away from the south pole, might consider organisms living in warmer climates as extremophiles. After learning about the 8 factors and exploring representative locations and organisms at those locations (see Power Point slides), students completed their extreme environments critter diagrams from yesterday.