I’m back with another set of bookmarks for students and teachers. Because I’ve taught the IB Environmental systems and societies course for several years, this set of online resources is closest to my heart. Some of these links are here simply because I think they’re cool or fun. Many may also be applicable for studying biology and chemistry as well. Let’s get to it:
United States Census Bureau. Extensive database of global human populations. Can be used to create age-sex pyramids, as well as other applications.
Earth wind map. A cool interactive resource to check wind patterns in real time anywhere on the planet.
Wildlife survey field lab template. This PDF from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a good layout to help middle school teachers and students design their own field surveys.
GRID-Arendal Maps and Infographics Library. In association with UNEP. This is one of my favorite resources for teaching environmental science. Searchable by topic, keyword, or geography. All maps and images are free to share. Awesome!
Timelapse. Watch the world change over the course of nearly three decades of satellite photography.
Not only do these tropical forests harbor a large number of endemic species, they are critically important in maintaining freshwater resources that people depend on for agriculture and domestic uses such as cooking, bathing, and drinking. This link exemplifies why the protection of habitats – and not just a focus on individual species – is so important. If we take a holistic, big-picture approach to resource conservation, many of the associated issues in development become more manageable: more people have more access to cleaner water, meaning that improved personal hygiene and sanitation lead to lower medical costs. Simultaneously, when coupled with sustainable management of soils, food security improves, leading to the economic growth of farmers’ livelihoods. Higher levels of biodiversity in protected areas often also mean an uptick in tourism and the revenue that generates for both local communities and national governments.
Udzungwa forest. Look closely, and you can see my son on the footbridge at the bottom of the photo.
The conservation of biodiversity in the context of a developing country like Tanzania is a tricky, complex process involving myriad factors, all of which are changing rapidly. If the answer were simple, the problems mentioned above would have been solved decades ago. I just hope that the people making those decisions can find a way to sort it out before we’ve lost it all forever – the forests, the species, and the livelihoods.
My colleague Matt Erdosy passed the following article along this morning. It outlines the myths and new science surrounding the reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone ecosystem in Montana and Wyoming, USA.
It turns out that the predator-prey relationship between wolves and elk is more complicated than we realized, and that there are many more factors influencing the rise and fall of populations within ecosystems than this classic model suggests. Read on!
Biogeochemical cycles trace the movement of matter and nutrients through living organisms (“bio-“), planetary systems (“geo-“) and chemical reactions (“chemical”) throughout every part of Earth. The carbon cycle and the nitrogen cycle are possibly the 2 most important biogeochemical cycles on Earth. Here are a few fun videos to help you learn about these two essential cycles in our study of life and ecology.
First, a nice explanation of the carbon cycle:
Second, a little carbon music video:
Third, click on this link to BBC Bitesize Science for a very well-thought-out activity about the carbon cycle. It incorporates photosynthesis, respiration, biological molecules, and trophic levels.
Fifth, CrashCourse Science at YouTube offers us this entertaining and educational video about the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles (You don’t have to know about the phosphorus cycle in this class, but it’s helpful if you take more advanced biology courses):
I found this presentation while looking through some stuff over at Slideshare.net, which is a pretty good resource for school notes if you haven’t found it yet. The teacher for this class includes almost everything that we need to know about the differences between the movement of energy and nutrients through and within ecosystems, respectively.
The key points I want you to remember about this topic are as follows:
Energy enters, flows through, and leaves a system.
Nutrients cycle repeatedly within the system.
Most of the energy at any trophic level is lost before it can be used by the next trophic level.
Energy is lost 3 main ways:
waste (feces and tissue loss)
used for respiration
The video below is also fairly helpful. What I like about it is the blank energy and nutrient diagram he fills in as he moves through the ecosystem. It’s a nice approach to a possible future test question (hint, hint).
Now that we’ve spent some time getting to know our key vocabulary in the biology sequence, let’s start to delve a little deeper into the links and relationships among those words.
The Cell Theory is one of the foundational ideas behind all of biology, and it is something you must be familiar with before starting any future classes in bio. There are 3 main postulates to the Cell Theory, which I’ve listed below.
All living things are made of cells.
All cells come from pre-existing cells.
The cell is the smallest unit of life.
Even though all living things are made of cells, not all cells are alike. Living organisms are classified into 5 kingdoms of life based on differences in their physiology and cell function. I think the link above and the image below nicely summarizes the way we classify living organisms.
In this unit we’ll look at one of the key distinctions among Earth organisms: the differences between plant and animal cells. The notes packet and diagrams you received in class contain the “official class notes” on this topic, so don’t lose them! You might also find the following items somewhat useful:
Welcome to the biology unit, kids! I’ve added a couple of helpful documents to this post, which you will want to refer to as we move through our unit on the organization of life on Earth.
The first document, G9 Biology Vocabulary, is an outline of the major concepts in this unit. It’s basically a big list of important vocabulary words. I’ve intentionally left out the definitions, examples, and explanations, because that’s what you need to add – that’s how you learn! You should download this document and add to it as we cover different topics during the unit.
The second document, G9 Biology vocabulary matchup, is the collection of cards we used in class. You’ll find vocabulary terms and definitions organized into columns and sorted by topic. This will be a nice reference in case you miss something during a class.