Environmental Science - 02

8:00 - Opening

  • Questions, comments, concerns?

  • FIELD TRIP FORMS!!! I gotta have them!
  • Let's take a few moments to talk about this week's field trips
8:15 - 8:30 Daily observations #1 GO HERE for Data Entry
Session #1: The Early Solar System and the Birth of the Earth (8:30 - 10:00)


Working WITHOUT your groupies at first, please use the 11" x 17" paper that I passed out and make an 8 or 10 panel comic that shows the birth o the our solar system.

Your last panel (square) should show how the moon was created

  • Grab a ruler
  • Turn your sheet the long way and and either measure or approximate 4 or 5 squares (panels) on top and and an equal number below that.
  • You can use color pencils if you like
  • Use short sentence (6 - 8 words only) to describe each panel

OPENING QUESTION: About 2/3 of the Earth's surface is water. Where did all that water come from?

(Please take a few moments to have a conversation with your group on that question and then write a THOUGHTFUL paragraph summarizing your discussion)

LEARNING TARGET: I will be able to explain to my family how water came to the Earth during today's class.


  • Solar System ("Our sun's family")
  • Solar Nebula -- ("Massively huge dust cloud")
  • Matrix - ("Meteor glue")
  • Goldilocks Zone ("Habitable Zone")


One of the most basic questions in Earth Science concerns the presence of liquid water on planet Earth.

Along with some source of energy and oxygen, scientists believe that liquid water is *essential* for the presence of life.

Therefore the question of where liquid water came from is an essential one.


Please turn to the person sitting next to you and ask them what the term "Goldilocks Zone" means in regards to planets and their distance to the star they orbit.



Scientists use the term "habitable zone" to mean the area a star might exist around its sun where liquid water could exist. When scientists are talking generally they sometimes refer to that area as the Goldilocks Zone...why?

Now turn to the person on the other side of you and ask them why that term is soooo important for life to exist on such a planet in that Goldilocks Zone


HOPEFULLY our conversations showed us that LIQUID WATER is absolutely Key to life in the Universe (at least we thinks so!).... why is that do you suppose?

Have THAT conversation with your group please (hint: Think PLANTS)



Notice that there are colored dots on your desk. People who are sitting at red or green dots, please read the first article. People who are sitting at blue or orange dots please read the second article.

Now let's practice kind of a cool strategy to digest that work.

Please take one of the paper strips and a sharpy that I've passed out to you and write down a particularly interesting bit of information that you found in your reading.

  • PLEASE write large enough for everyone in the class to see.
  • Also, only write 4 or 5 words -- keep your writing brief

Now let's have some fun with those!

  • Place all your sheets on the table in some way that EVERYONE in your group can see them (without looking at them upside down)
  • Now sort your sheets from most to least important, relevent, interesting... whatever
  • Let's all move up to the front of the room and we'll have various folks lead us through the next paft of this exercise
  • Finally, let's work to write a full paragraph from the list on the board.

We'll do a test on formation of the Earth tomorrow:

  • Formation of the Solar System
  • Formation of the Moon
  • Water on the Earth
BREAK (10:00 - 10:15)
Session #2: Natural Ecosystems -- (10:15 - 11:30)

OPENING QUESTION: What do we mean by the term 'ecosystem'?

LEARNING TARGET: I will be able to list at least 3 different ecoystems present in Gig Harbor during today's class


  • Ecosystem ("?")
  • abiotic (non-living)
  • biotic (living)


Let's have a quick conversation --- how many different sorts of ecosystems can you suggest for the community of Gig Harbor? (Let's have someone come up and lead the conversation and write the list on the board for us)

Please go online using your Chromebooks and determine one of the 'ecosystems' present in Gig Harbor

  • Let's discuss, are there any more?
  • Are there any that might not quite be right for Gig Harbor?


Now let's see if we can have a bit of fun with this topic. Please open your Chromebooks and let's find a list of ecosystems (be sure and tell us the name of the website...that will be VERY important in our future conversations)

Let's revise our class list to match

Have a conversation with folks in your group, and let's see how many different Earth ecosystems we ourselves have actually visited!


Let's further explore the idea of ecoystems:

  • What ecosystem would you MOST like to visit?
    • Choose an ecosystem from anywhere in the world and then write it down on a strip.
    • Talk to your groupies and arrange those strips in order of interest on your desk
    • One at a time, we'll take each groups top ecosystem and *visit* such an ecosystem somewhere on planet Earth


  • What ecosystem would you MOST like to live?
    • If it is different from where you'd like to visit, why is that?
    • Let's go take a look at a few of those using Google Earth
  • What ecosystem would you MOST want to AVOID?
    • What about that ecosystem makes it less interesting/attractive to you?

Now that we've talked about ecosystems a bunch, let's work again to define an ecosystem?

What do we mean by the term ecosystem?

What features must be present for an ecosystem to exist?

Reading/Discussion (11:30 - 11:45)

Grab a National Geographic, Scientific American or Smithsonian Magazine.... Skim the pages, look at the pictures and read the captions.  

Choose one picture from that magazine that has *resonance* with you (we'll talk about what that means).

Let's pretend you were going to be an environmental scientist. How does that ONE picture reflect your interest in that field of environmental science?

Lunch (11:45 - 12:15)
SESSION #3 The Puget Sound Environment (12:15 - 1:30)

OPENING QUESTSION: What forces were responsible for shaping the Puget Sound Environment to what we see today? (please be *thoughtful* in your response... Use IQIA and then support that response)

LEARNING TARGET: I will be able to *sketch* how glaciers created the Puget Sound basin during today's class


  • Glacier
  • Puget Sound Basin


Let's see what we mean by the term Puget Sound Basin.

Notice the dark/black line... everything INSIDE that line we'll refer to as the Puget Sound Basin

I'll hand out laminated sheets of this picture. Work with your group to find and label the following places:

  • Seattle
  • Tacoma
  • Kitsap Peninsula
  • Gig Harbor
  • Mount Rainier

Here's what that same area looked like about 15,000 years ago. You can see that outlines of the CURRENT Puget Sound Basin outlined below. Keep in mind they didn't exist yet, they are there simply for comparison

That big gray space taking up most of the page is a glacier... sometimes described as a frozen river!

Work with your group to develop a MODEL that explains how the Puget Sound Basin went from Picture #2 (with glaciers, aboe) to Picture #1 (no glaciers, the way the Puget Sound Basin looks now)

We'll do that by cutting out *about* 3 feet x 3 feet of butcher paper from the big roll by the counter.

Work with your group to sketch and label the Puget Sound basin showing changes made by the four major physical forces acting there:

  1. Glaciers
  2. Earthquakes
  3. Erosion
  4. Volcanoes
A bright, articulate 12 year old should understand how the Puget Sound Basin came to look the way it does today--- simply by viewing your poster.


We'lls do a bit of musical chairs so each group will *swim up stream* one table (table #1 goes to #2, table #2 goes to table #3 etc...)

Take a few moments to evaluate the existing poster at that table. Make *thoughtful* comments to that list (using your color!)

What aspects do you think were clear and useful to understanding how the Puget Sound Basin was formed?

What opportunities did that group miss?

*Now swim DOWN a table and repeat the process as follows:

What aspects do you think were clear and useful to understanding how the Puget Sound Basin was formed?

What opportunities did the group miss?

*Now please return *home* and see if you agree or disagree with the comments that were left on your own work


1:30 - 1:45 Break
1:45 - 2:00 Daily Observations # 2
2:00 - 3:00 Understanding Fossils




  • Fossil ("A rock record of formerly living organism")
  • Imprint Fossil (?)
  • Permineralization (?)


  • Let's brainstorm a bit so we have some general background knowledge about fossils:


    1) What do we mean when we say a fossil is an "imprint"?


    Perhaps this picture will help:

    Or Perhaps This Picture Will Help:

    PLEASE work with your group to develop a model (we have materials in the class that will help you!) that will help you explain how an imprint fossil is formed in a way that a bright, articulate 10 year old will understand...


    Ladies & Gentlemen! I present to you SUE, perhaps the best preserved fossil remains of a Tyranosaurus Rex (T-Rex).

    Sue was uncovered in South Dakota back in the 1990's. Unfortunately there was some controversey on who owned the land in which Sue was found which lead to a WHOLE MESS that landed in court.

    Sue was eventually sold to a Museum in Chicago for $7 million!

    Here's an interesting question (I HOPE) for you to ponder with your group... what do you suppose Sue looked like when she was discovered in the rocks of South Dakota?


    Notice that the bones are spread out... scientists had to reassemble the bones according to THEIR BEST INTERPRETATION of how they went together to make the standing version displayed above.

    This short Video has some interesting details...(by the by, the show is on Netflix, it's quite good)


    How would you feel if you discovered Sue? Let's discuss...


    Here's a fairly standard middle school explanation of fossil formation. It seems to me there is a rather glaring omission-- which is to say, what's missing here?


    Here's an interesting question for you---

    When I was down at Prehistoric, my favorite fossil shop in Lincoln City (on the Oregon Coast), the owner said that fossils embedded in rocks (like what we hope to uncover), are something like 6 times harder than the rock that holds them...

    Here's an OUTSTANDING ( español) article that will tell us WAY too much about how a fossil forms--

    Please take a moment to dig out the details for IMPRINT fossils and Permineralization...

    Let's discuss


    We have an activity tomorrow that we'll use to help us understand the process of permineralization tomorrow.... but here are some items to keep in mind

    I'm hoping that you are getting particularly itchy to start chipping into our rocks!!!

    Before you do that, however, everyone in your group has to demonstrate understanding of:

    1) The Green River formation in Wyoming, and why that is such a prolific place to find fossils

    2) How a fish fossil is formed (these are the most common form of fossil in Green River Formation rocks

    3) (MOST IMPORTANTLY) a documented (written) plan that shows in exquisite detail how you plan to excavate your rocks. That includes:

      1. Your method
      2. Your tools
      3. How you plan to keep your work area clean
      4. How and where you plan to store your rocks
      5. How you plan to dispose of your pieces