Mountain Pine Bark Beetle Lesson Packet

Mountain Pine Bark Beetle Lesson Packet

Get The Lesson

Learn about the Mountain Pine Bark Beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) through this lesson. 

Get this lesson: You can download the full packet here or read a condensed version of this unit below.

Worksheet: Download just the worksheet or there’s a copy included in the packet.

Overview: 

The Mountain Pine Bark Beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) is a species of bark beetle native to forests in North America. It is the size of a grain of rice and has a hard black exoskeleton. This beetle inhabits Ponderosa, Whitebark, and Lodgepole Pines, normally playing an important role in the life of a forest, but unusually hot, dry summers and mild winters in the mountains have led to an unprecedented epidemic of this insect.  Coupled with a century of fire suppression and monoculture replanting, the infestation may have significant effects on the capability of the forests to thrive and  remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

 

Female beetles initiate attacks. As they chew into the inner bark and phloem, pheromones are released, attracting male and female beetles to the same tree. They chew through the bark until they reach the phloem, a cushy resinous layer between the outer bark and the sapwood that carries sugars through the tree. There, they lay their eggs in tunnels, and eventually a new generation of beetles hatches, grows up, and flies away. But before they do, the mature beetles also spread a special fungus in the center of the trunk. The fungi leave blue-gray streaks in the trees they kill. A healthy tree can usually beat back invading beetles by deploying chemical defenses and flooding them out with sticky resin. But just as dehydration makes humans weaker, heat and drought impede a tree’s ability to fight back—less water means less resin.

Video resources:

Tiny Beetle Outbreak – University of Montana Professor Diana Six summarizing beetle problem and how to approach it.
What is The Mountain Pine Beetle? – A basic overview of the beetle infestation.

Sample Research Project:

Description: students analyze forests near their home for signs of bark beetle infestation 

Methods: Students look for signs of beetles Using this guide and measuring a study area with a transect. Students track findings in multiple areas to get an average. If known beetle damage is present, students can also observe smaller areas of dead or dying trees using a quadrat.

 

Sample Research Questions: 

  • Are there more signs of beetle destruction in a certain area?
  • What signs of beetle destruction are most common?
  • Do trees that are closer together have more beetle destruction?
  • Do larger or smaller trees have more beetle destruction?

NGSS Standards:

MS-LS2-1; MS-LS2-2; MS-LS2-4 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

HS-LS2-1; HS-LS2-2; HS-LS2-6; HS-LS2-8 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

SEPs:

  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Constructing Explanations and designing solutions
  • Scientific knowledge based on empirical evidence
  • Planning and carrying out investigations

CC:

  • Stability and change
  • Patterns
  • Cause and effect

 

Learning chemistry: solutions and concentration lesson packet

Learning chemistry: solutions and concentration lesson packet

Get The Lesson

Learn about solutions, concentration, and solubility through this lesson. 

Get this lesson: You can download the full packet here or read a condensed version of this unit below.

Worksheet: Download just the worksheet or there’s a copy included in the packet.

Overview: 

There are three foundational concepts that are useful to understand when thinking about chemistry. These concepts explain how substances either mix together to form a new substance, or dissolve in one another creating a mixture. 

Solution: a special type of homogeneous mixture composed of two or more substances. In such a mixture, a solute is a substance dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent.

Concentration: the abundance of a constituent divided by the total volume of a mixture. E.g the amount of salt in a water solution.

Solubility: a property referring to the ability for a given substance, the solute, to dissolve in a solvent, such as water.

 

The solubility of a majority of solid substances increases as temperature increases. In the suggested research project, students can see how you can dissolve more salt in water as you heat up the water.   

Video resources:

Frogsicles: Frozen but still alive – a video lesson about how the wood frog makes its own “antifreeze”.

Overview on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – a short explanation of the geography of the area.

Sample Research Project:

Create a super saturated solution: use water and common table salt to understand the concentration of solutions. When a solvent is heated, it can dissolve more of a solute than when it is cool. 

Methods and materials: This article describes how to do the experiment. 

  • Water
  • Table salt
  • Heat source
  • Pan
  • Spoon
  • Heat proof container

Sample Research Questions: 

  • Does more solute dissolve when the solute is hot or cold?
  • Does a super saturated solution appear different than a saturated or unsaturated solution?
  • How can I test to know that a solution is super saturated?

NGSS Standards:

This unit provides foundational knowledge for working with standard HS-PS1-5

SEPs: Analyzing and interpreting data
Systems and system models

CC: Cause and effect
Stability and change
Patterns

Sierra Nevada Ecosystems Lesson Packet

Sierra Nevada Ecosystems Lesson Packet

Get The Lesson

Learn about the ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada through this lesson.

Get this lesson: You can download the full packet here or read a condensed version of this unit below.

Worksheet: Download just the worksheet or there’s a copy included in the packet.

Overview: 

An ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.  Scientists have classified 8 major ecosystems on Earth called Biomes, which encompass smaller ecosystems. The Sierra Nevada mountains are within the temperate coniferous forest biome.

The Sierra Nevada also includes different vegetation zones, from montane forests to subalpine and alpine zones all determined by elevation. Ecosystems are dynamic and continually changing through time.

 

The Sierra Nevada ecoregion harbors one of the most diverse temperate conifer forests on Earth displaying an extraordinary range of habitat types and supporting many unusual species. Fifty percent of California’s estimated 7,000 species of vascular plants occur in the Sierra Nevada, with 400 Sierra endemics and 200 rare species.  

Ecosystems are dependent on a balance of producers and consumers. The producers are at the base of the energy cycle using photosynthesis and chemosynthesis to make their own food, omnivores and carnivores follow. Decomposers finish the cycle. At each level only 10% of energy is passed on, the other 90% is lost as heat.   

 

Video resources:

The Cost of Ecosystem Change: The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep – A talk with field biologists studying declining Bighorn Sheep populations

High Elevation Forest Monitoring in the Sierra Nevada – A discussion on forest health and efforts to preserve it by the National Park Service

Sample Research Project:

Project: Sierra Nevada food web activity

Methods: Examine the interactions between animal and plant species in the Sierra Nevada by charting their interactions with one another and labeling them producer, consumer, scavenger, or decomposer.

Sample research questions: 

  • What happens to the population of one species as another declines?
  • Can consumers live without decomposers?
  • What happens to the population of scavengers as consumers decline?

NGSS Standards:

MS-LS2-3; MS-LS2-4 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

HS-LS2-6; HSLS2-7; HS-LS2-8 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

SEPs: Analyzing and interpreting data
Constructing Explanations and designing solutions
Planning and carrying out investigations
Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Systems and system models

CC: Cause and effect
Stability and change
Patterns

Water Chemistry Lesson Packet

Water Chemistry Lesson Packet

Get The Lesson

Learn about the unique chemsitry of water through this lesson. 

Get this lesson: You can download the full packet here or read a condensed version of this unit below.

Worksheet: Download just the worksheet or there’s a copy included in the packet.

Overview: 

Water covers 71% of Earth’s surface and is unique because it exists in all three states: solid, liquid, and gas. Below freezing at 32 degrees F it is a solid, and above the boiling point (212 degrees F) it is a gas. Water molecules are composed of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, giving it the chemical symbol H20. Water is a “polar molecule” meaning there is an uneven distribution of electron density. The ability of ions and other molecules to dissolve in water is due to polarity. Because of this, water is referred to as the “universal solvent”.  

The hydrologic cycle describes how water is transferred over the Earth, and also explains how human impacts on one part of the water cycle can affect more than just the surrounding area.

 

Because of water’s solvent properties, it can dissolve elements like nitrogen and phosphorous, which enter waterways through farm runoff containing fertilizer. This can create many harmful effects on humans and organisms. 

Video resources:

 

The Chemistry of Water – An easily digestible chemistry lesson with visual diagrams explaining the chemical makeup of water and what makes it unique. 

Great Lakes Now: The Algae Crisis – A detailed video on issues caused by farming leaking phosphorous into the nearby Great Lakes. 

What is Nitrogen Pollution – An animated visual diagram explaining how Nitrogen impacts waterways

Sample Research Project:

Studying pH and alkalinity for rivers – find a nearby waterway and test for pH and alkalinity in samples you collect. This project from the Massachusetts Water Watch Partnership contains methods and a materials list to complete the experiment. 

Sample Research Questions: 

  • Is water near civilization in an urban stream more acidic or more basic than water in a rural stream?
  • How do pH and alkalinity correlate?
  • Are there more species living in acidic or basic water?
  • Are there more species living in more or less alkaline water?

NGSS Standards:

HS-ESS2-5 Earth’s Systems 

HS-ESS3-6: Earth and Human Activity

SEPs: Analyzing and interpreting data
Constructing Explanations and designing solutions
Engaging in argument from evidence
Planning and carrying out investigations
Asking Questions

CC: Cause and effect
Stability and change
Patterns

Global Circulation Lesson Packet

Global Circulation Lesson Packet

What’s inside:

Learn about the global patterns that impact earth’s temperature, wind, currents, and climate, known as Global Circulation.

Get this lesson: You can download the full packet here, or read a condensed version of this unit below.

Worksheet: Download just the worksheet, or there’s a copy included in the packet.

Overview: 

Global circulation is the worldwide system of winds which transports heat from the tropics to the polar regions. This circulation explains how air and storm systems travel over the Earth’s surface. 

In each hemisphere there are three cells (Hadley cell, Ferrel cell, and Polar cell) in which air circulates through the entire depth of the troposphere.  These cells greatly influence the climate of a region as they bring weather from their original locations. 

In addition, the ocean also has its own system of circulation, known as the “global conveyor belt”. The ocean’s currents are interconnected, powered by winds, tides, Earth’s rotation, sun and water density differences. Surface ocean currents are usually wind driven while deep ocean currents are density-driven. The ocean greatly influences the Earth’s temperature, weather, and climate.

Video resources:

 

Global circulation: differential heating – A video with helpful graphics describing why parts of the Earth are heated differently. 

The hadley, ferrel, and polar cells – Part two of the video above describes the three cells and their functions. 

The coriolis effect and winds – The third video from Met Office, the United Kingdom’s weather service, describes the coriolis effect and how winds and jet streams work.

Sample Research Project:

Project: Headwaters’ Global Ocean Circulation Lab

Methods: Use household materials to understand ocean circulation by adding ingredients to a dish filled with water or oil and applying heat. Suggested: begin with the Ocean Circulation lesson before starting the project. Get the full packet here.

Supplies:

  •  Pyrex baking dish, approximately two quarts in size
  • Dried thyme or other dried leaf spices
  • Teaspoon measuring spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • About three cups of vegetable oil or water with a liquid thickener
  • Spoon or whisk for stirring
  • Two sturdy ceramic coffee mugs, equal in height
  • Small candle (This should be much shorter than the coffee mugs.)
  • Lighter or matches (Have an adult assist handling the lit candle and lighter or matches.)
  • A surface that can handle oily spills, such as the kitchen counter—or towel to protect the surface

NGSS Standards:

MS-ESS2-5; MS-ESS2-6 Earth’s Systems
HS-ESS2-5 Earth’s Systems

SEPsAnalyzing and interpreting data
Constructing Explanations and designing solutions
Scientific knowledge based on empirical evidence
Planning and carrying out investigations
Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

CC: Cause and effect
Stability and change
Patterns
Systems and system models
Energy and matter: flows, cycles, and conservation