Environmental Science - 03

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
    • Working with the *wonderful* folks at Harbor Wild Watch on Friday
    • Heading up to Mt St Helens and doing the Hummocks Trail with the fine folk of the Mt St Helens Institute
    • ACK! Here's another permission form I forgot to have your folks at home sign. Please send this FORM to them and have them sign it and get it back in the next day or two!
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 - 9:45)


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


Please take a few moments to review our words of the day AND the learning targets from the last few sessions.

Now please take a few moments to discuss those with your group before we start the test


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


Formation of the Solar System TEST!

BREAK (9:45 - 10:00)
Session #2: Natural Ecosystems -- (10:00 - 11:15)

OPENING QUESTION: There is strong evidence that suggests that human beings evolved in the an areas of Eastern Africa called the Rift Valley. What sort of ecosystem do you suppose existed then?

LEARNING TARGET: I will be able to describe the current ecosystem of the Rift Valley during this session.


  • Ecosystem ("?")
  • Rift Valley


We're going to listen to an in-depth description of life in the Rift Valley in just a few moments. Before we do that, let's get familiar with some of the terms and images that we'll learn about in that broadcast.



Let's use Google Earth to ZOOOOM into the Rift Valley


The Hudza (Hunter Gatherers that live in Tanzania in the Rift Valley of Aftrica. Their way of life has remained virtually unchanged for 40,000 years)


Baobob (BAY-oh-bob) Tree - Source of Honey from Beehives


Porcupine - A Delicacy


Tubers - Edible Roots that Grow Underground (Like Potatoes)


Now that we've had a few moments to review what we're going to listen to, let's go ahead and listen to this British Broadcasting Corporation broadcast of the Hadza people of the Rift Valley in Tanzania.

There way of life has remained unchanged for 40,000 years.

Please pay SPECIAL attention to descriptions of that ecosystem and humans live there.

Here are some questions that are true, false, or somewhat true... you need to evaluate each in terms of what you learn in the broadcast

  • Statement One: Due to the harsh conditions in the Rift Valley in Tanzania, Hudza children are totally dependent on their parents for food until well past the age of 15.
  • Statement Two: Porcupines have to be scared out of their underground tunnels by a hunter actually crawling inside those tunnels.
  • Statement Three: The country of Tanzania is doing nothing to protect the Hudza and their way of life.

Let's Recap:

What was the main point of the broadcast?

Write down three words to describe the ecosystem described in the broadcast

In order for the Hudza to live, survivie and thrive in that environment, what must have been true about that environment for the last 40,000 years?

Reading/Discussion (11:00 - 11:45)

Get a National Geographic, Scientific American or Smithsonian Magazine and find a picture that *resonates* with you.

Write a *thoughtful* paragraph (IQIA, 3 - 5 thoughtful sentences) on why that pictures resonates (is meaningful) for you.

Let's share a few

Lunch (11:45 - 12:15)
SESSION #2 The Puget Sound Environment (12:15 - 1:30)


Please review these with your group:

What is the Puget Sound Basin?

How would the Puget Soun Basin be different today if no glaciers existed in the past 15,000 years?

Glaciers are just rivers of ice. How could they possibly change the region so profoundly?

OPENING QUESTION: Work by yourself to list the four forces that shaped the Puget Sound Basin during the last 20,000 years.

Now rank those from 1 - 4 with #1 being the force that had the MOST impact in shaping the Puget Sound Basin, and #4 being the least.

After you've completed that tasque, please compare your list with the folks in your group, and work with them to come up with an order that you all agree on.


I will be able to relate the importance of earthquakes and seismic activity on the Puget Sound Basin during today's class.


  • Glacier
  • Puget Sound Basin
  • Fault


Here's a bit of background about the Puget Sound Basin (generally)

Now let's watch THIS animation of the glacier that shaped Puget Sound Basin about 10 - 20,000 years ago.


Let's switch gears a bit and talk about a different force that helped shape the Puget Sound Basin during the last 20,000 years (or so!): Seismic Activity (earthquakes and such)!

It is a little bit hard to see, but look for the colored triangles on this graphic.

Notice the numbers inside those triangles. They are NOT a measure of the actual magnitude of the earthquake.

... have a conversation with your group and suggest an explanation for what those numbers might mean:

  • HINT: They have to do with Earthquakes
  • HINT: Notice they are both positive AND negative

Back in 1949, there was a magnitude 6.7 earthquake near Olympia.

It caused THIS landslide in the Tacoma Narrows

Here's Data for that Landslide

What do you suppose happened when 150,000 cubic meters (that's 15,000 big dump trucks) of dirt, rocks and debris slid into Puget Sound?



The answer... (oddly enough)


A very local tsunami wave sloshed back and forth in the narrows after that landslide.

It turns out that one of the most destructive types of tsunamis that can occur happen due to landslides.

Let's take a look at a couple of extreme examples of that.

(Note to Mr W-- Don't forget Google Earth!)

  1. Lituya Bay Alaska

Have a conversation with your group: Why is a similar mega-tsunami IMPOSSIBLE here in the Puget Sound Basin?

  1. Mauna Loa Hawaii

Have a conversation with your group: Why is a similar mega-tsunami IMPOSSIBLE here in the Puget Sound Basin?

1:15 - 1:30 Daily Observations # 2
1:30 - 2:30

OPENING QUESTIONS: What is a fossil?



  • 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!

    If you have Netflix at home, take a look at Dinosaur 13. The story of the controversy of SUE

    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