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Travel back in time more than 300 million years, when plants changed the surface of our planet, and consider the connections between the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.

About the Video Clip

Duration: 5 minutes
Grade Level: Best for grades 5+; content connects to NGSS standards for high school

Life and our planet evolved together, our destinies entwined—our surface teeming with life, our crust infused with minerals created by life, our atmosphere altered and driven by living systems.

Travel back in time more than 300 million years, when plants changed the surface of our planet, and consider the connections between the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.

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Guiding Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • What roles do trees play in stabilizing Earth's climate?
  • How does the spectral fingerprint of Earth reveal that there is life on this planet?
  • The film encourages us to leap back in time 200 years ago, more than 300 million years ago, and over two billion years ago. In each case, in what ways did life alter Earth's chemistry?
  • How far back in time would you have to travel to witness a relatively stable, lifeless, spectral fingerprint for Earth?
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2-Week Unit: History of Oceans and Atmosphere

A view of Earths oceans from space.

There is a preponderance of data indicating that the Earth's oceans and atmosphere are changing. Has this happened in the past? What may have caused the oceans and atmosphere to change? What data supports our understanding of the history of oceanic and atmospheric chemistry, structure, and dynamics? How can understanding past changes inform us about current changes?

In this high school unit from CLEAN, students will analyze data and graphs showing changes over time of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and temperature, and model possible feedbacks between Earth's systems that create changes in the atmosphere and oceans.

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Connections to the Next Generation Science Standards

While this video doesn't necessarily cover the following standards in depth, it is a compelling resource you can use to supplement your curriculum that does.

 

Related Performance Expectation HS-ESS2-7: Construct an argument based on evidence about the simultaneous co-evolution of Earth's systems and life on Earth. Emphasis is on the dynamic causes, effects, and feedbacks between the biosphere and Earth’s other systems, whereby geoscience factors control the evolution of life, which in turn continuously alters Earth’s surface. Examples include how photosynthetic life altered the atmosphere through the production of oxygen, which in turn increased weathering rates and allowed for the evolution of animal life; and how microbial life on land increased the formation of soil, which in turn allowed for the evolution of land plants.

Associated Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-ESS2.D Weather and Climate: Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

HS-ESS2.E Biogeology: The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

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Award laurels graphic for Best of Earth 2021 award for Living Worlds
We thank our donors

This production is funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through Grant GBMF10870 to the Academy.

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation