HomeHHMI's BioInteractiveWeighing the Evidence for a Mass Extinction—On Land

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Classroom Resource
Weighing the Evidence for a Mass Extinction—On Land

Summary

A lesson in which students analyze graphs and data on pollen grains and fern spores to form a picture of the living landscape before and after the K-T mass extinction.

This lesson supports the HHMI short film The Day the Mesozoic Died. Students will analyze graphs and data on pollen grains and fern spores to form a picture of the living landscape before and after the K-T event. This activity complements the hands-on activity “Weighing the Evidence for a Mass Extinction, Part 1: In the Ocean,” in which students examine data on fossils of foraminifera, microorganisms that are abundant in the ocean.


Curriculum Connections:

NGSS (April 2013)
MS-LS2-1, MS-LS2-4, MS-LS4-1, MS-ESS2-2
MS-LS2.A, MS-LS2.C, MS-LS4.A, MS-S4.B, MS-LS4.C, MS-ESS1.C
HS-LS2-1, HS-LS2-2, HS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-4, HS-LS4-5,
HS-LS4.B, HS-LS4.C, HS-ESS1.C

Common Core (2010)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.7,
CCSS.Math.Practice.MP2, CCSS.Math.Practice.MP5, CCSS.Math.Content.HSN-Q.A.1
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.4, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.7,

AP Biology (2012-13)
1.3.A, 1.A.4, 1.C.1, 2.D.1, 4.A.6, 4.B.3, 4.B.4

IB Biology (2009)
Topic 1, 5.4, D.2, G.1, G.2


Supporting Materials (11)

Short Film
The disappearance of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period posed one of the greatest, long-standing scientific mysteries. This three-act film tells the story of the extraordinary detective work that solved it. 
Film Guides
The following classroom-ready resources complement The Day the Mesozoic Died, which tells the story of the extraordinary detective work that led to the stunning discovery that an asteroid struck Earth 66 million years ago, triggering a mass extinction of animals, plants and even microorganisms.
Classroom Resource
A worksheet in which students write down the evidence that led to the discovery that an asteroid struck Earth about 66 million years ago, causing a mass extinction. 
Classroom Resource
A lesson in which students calculate the mass, size, and kinetic energy of the K-T asteroid based on the total abundance of iridium in the K-T boundary layer.
Classroom Resource
This hands-on activity requires students to “visit” different K-T boundary sites.
Classroom Resource
A hands-on activity in which students see first-hand the difference in foraminifera fossils below and above the K-T boundary.
Classroom Resource
A worksheet in which students calculate how much iridium was released, and eventually deposited all over the Earth, by the impact of the asteroid that caused the K-T extinction.
Classroom Resource
A short article by Dr. Sean B. Carroll detailing the discoveries covered in the film The Day The Mesozoic Died.
Classroom Resource
A lesson in which students analyze the chemical data that led researchers to conclude that the K-T boundary layer contained an extraordinary concentration of iridium. 
Classroom Resource
A lesson in which students read a passage and answer questions about the information presented, testing their non-fiction reading comprehension.
Classroom Resource
A text transcript of the short film "The Day the Mesozoic Died" from the Great Discoveries in Science short film series.

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