BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT	 1
5
SURVIVING AN
EXTINCTION EVENT
Summary
In this activity stu...
BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT	 1
Introduction
“Mass extinction events” are probably the most ...
BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT	 2
Then you should use the worksheets on the following pages to...
BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT	 3
What happens?
Briefly describe the extinction event you’re d...
BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT	 4
How are important resources affected?
Does your current sour...
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Surviving an extinction event

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In this activity students imagine a “mass extinction event” in the future and devise a plan for working through the catastrophe. Students identify the cause of the event, outline the various effects the event has, and formulate an effective plan for surviving in the new environmental conditions that exist after the event.

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Transcript of "Surviving an extinction event"

  1. 1. BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT 1 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT Summary In this activity students imagine a “mass extinction event” in the future and devise a plan for working through the catastrophe. Students identify the cause of the event, outline the various effects the event has, and formulate an effective plan for surviving in the new environmental conditions that exist after the event. Preparation for the activity Have students work alone or in small groups. Students should review their notes/journal for information about how the biosphere is impacted by astronomical, geological, and biological events. They should also review their notes/journal and the course materials for information about the five major extinction events in Earth’s history: the Ordovician-Silurian, the Late Devonian, the Permian, the Triassic-Jurassic, and the Cretaceous-Tertiary. We provide two web links to additional sources for researching the previous extinction events. Presenting their findings Have students present their work in the form of a written report, a poster, or a PowerPoint presentation. If possible, have students make brief presentations of their work to other groups of students or to the entire class at the conclusion of the assignment. Student-facing materials In the following pages we have provided detailed instructions and graphic organizers to help students describe their event and devise an effective “game plan” for survival. TEACHING MATERIALS
  2. 2. BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT 1 Introduction “Mass extinction events” are probably the most catastrophic events in the history of the Earth. But, though their impact on the biosphere has been devastating, and many living things have been destroyed, no extinction event so far has succeeded in eliminating all life on Earth. Some- how, certain life forms find a way to survive. In fact, extinction events often create openings in the biosphere that particular species can take advantage of. Perhaps the most important example of this is how the extinction of the dinosaurs created an opening for mammals to thrive. How would you survive an extinction event like the ones that you have studied in this unit? How would you get the food, water, and other resources necessary for survival? How would your life change? Your goal in this activity is to design an extinction event of the future, and then design a strategy for surviving it. Preparation for the activity • Review your notes/journal for information about how the biosphere is impacted by astronomical, geological, and biological events. • Review your notes/journal for information on the five major extinction events in Earth’s history: the Ordovician-Silurian, the Late Devonian, the Permian, the Triassic-Jurassic, and the Cretaceous-Tertiary. • Use this review of your previous work to help you come up with an idea for an extinction scenario that will occur in the future history of the biosphere. • Here are some other sources that may be helpful: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/extinction_events http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v471/n7336/fig_tab/nature09678_T1.html In the first part of this activity you need to write a paragraph that offers a detailed description of your fictional extinction event. In your paragraph you should: 1. Describe the cause of the extinction event. For example, is it an astronomical impact, a volcanic eruption, the die-off of a critical plant or animal, or something else? 2. Describe the details of the event. When does it begin, and how long does it last? What area is the center of the event? How many people die and what kind of destruction occurs when the event happens? 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT
  3. 3. BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT 2 Then you should use the worksheets on the following pages to craft a “game plan.” 1. How do you survive the initial impact of this event? 2. How does the event impact your day-to-day life? 3. What adjustments do you need to make to overcome the impact in the short term? 4. What are the bigger, more long-term effects of this event on how you live? What are its long-term consequences for the biosphere? Note that you are being asked three important things: how you survive the immediate impact of the event and how you survive over the long term and what are the long-term consequences for the biosphere. Presenting your findings • You can present your findings in the form of a written report, a poster, or a PowerPoint presentation. • You may be asked to make brief presentations of your work to other groups of students or to the entire class at the conclusion of the assignment.
  4. 4. BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT 3 What happens? Briefly describe the extinction event you’re dealing with: Briefly describe the event’s impact on the city or town you live in, on your state or province, and on your country (include things that happen to the land, to the biosphere, to buildings, and to the people): How do you survive? Briefly explain how you are able to survive the event: Does your family survive? Do your friends and neighbors? How? Does your local government survive the event? How and why? SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT Organize your game plan
  5. 5. BIG HISTORY PROJECT / UNIT 5 SURVIVING AN EXTINCTION EVENT 4 How are important resources affected? Does your current source of food survive? Why? If not, what other sources of food are available to you? How challenging is it to access them? Does your current source of water survive? Why? If not, what other sources of water are available to you? How challenging is it to access them? Does your current shelter survive? Why? If not, what other potential sources of shelter are available to you? How challenging is it to access them? Will money be necessary to obtain food, water, and shelter after the event? Is it possible to work? What is the most challenging effect of this event on your ability to get the resources that you need to survive? Your support network for survival What types or groups of people do you join up with to give yourself the greatest chance of survival? Why? What services is your government still able to provide? Which do you have to provide for on your own? What are the most challenging effects of this event on your network of family, friends, and neighbors, and how do these changes affect your ability to survive?

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