Thursday, January 31, 2008

Virtual Field Trips

The internet has many amazing attributes. One recent discovery for me is that many people have set up "virtual field trips" where you can visit a place on the planet through the internet. I may never actually make it to the remote location of Easter Island, but this website makes me feel like I am close to being there.


Take a virtual field trip to any of the biomes listed on this link.

Describe three organisms from the biome. Don't forget to write clearly and provide detail.
Above and Beyond: (In addition to the assignment above)
Find a virtual field trip for the biome that you are researching. There are virtual field trips for almost everything! Post a link and use some of the information you find in your final biome presentation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

To my middle school classes:

You did an excellent job responding to the last post. You made some astute observations and your comments were clear and to the point. I liked Max's comment that the female mole cricket flies silently in order to avoid predators. I wonder how it does that and whether scientists have ever looked at their method of flight to recreate for humans.
Now I have a challenge for you. Look back at the comments and pick one from any of the entries from the January 24th post. Find a website about that organism and it's unique characteristics. Provide the class a link to that website. Describe why the link might be interesting or useful and add one additional fact about the critter. I have provided an example.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Grasslands cover vast amounts of territory within the interior of many continents. A vital biome, grasslands support a tremendous amount of biodiversity. Clearly, they contain a large amount of trapped sunlight when you consider how large some of the organisms can get from feeding off of the grasses. Elephants, bison, herds of antelope (to name a few) thrive in this environment. That is, of course, when their environment is left alone. This habitat has been disrupted by humans for as long as humans have settled there. Because of the fertile soil provided by the grass, humans have used this land for agriculture. This limits the space for animal herds and it can also destroy the soil for future generations. Luckily, many grassland animals are being protected.

The North American Bison, for example, was hunted to the brink of extinction by the early 1900's. Due to conservation efforts, the bison's population has bounced back, going from under a thousand to nearly two hundred thousand.
This link holds information about the bison. Click on the link to watch the video about bison from the documentary "Planet Earth."

Go to the following site:

Pick one of the animals listed and write a comment about three adaptations that the animal has that allows it to survive in the grassland.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How it all ends: Return of the Global Warming Teacher

Here is part two of the thoughtful arguement presented by the Oregonian teacher on global warming. In this version, he addresses the thousands of skeptical comments received after his first video. In addition, he has added spectacular visual effects, the likes of which have not been seen since The Matrix! Watch it and decide if his conclusions are logical or not.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Grasslands are vast territories that have too little precipitation to support large trees. The biome is dominated by smaller plants that need to be adapted to long periods without rain. It is common for these biomes to have a dry season and a wet season. Organisms that live in these regions need amazing abilities to survive the long dry season. For example, many plants have large, horizontal root systems so they can draw water from as large an area as possible.

The following link shows one of the most amazing animal adaptations on the planet.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Today we learned about the Taiga biome, a large band of forest territory covering the northern part of the Earth. Because this biome is located so far North, the organisms that reside there need many adaptations to allow them to survive in extremely cold weather. A snowshoe hare, for example, has an interesting quality that helps it survive. What does it do and how does it survive?
For homework this week you will be completing a webquest. A webquest is a learning activity where students read, analyze, and synthesize information using the world wide web. This assignment is a shortened version of a typical webquest. I'm using this one to start us out. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Oregon teacher's pitch

Will forwarded this link to me. Thanks Will! It is a very interesting presentation about taking action against global warming. I encourage you to take a look and then to respond to what you see. I think he makes a very strong, compelling arguement which should be passed along to everyone, especially as I sit here with my windows wide open enjoying the 45 degree January weather.
However, you should also note that not everyone agrees with this perspective and the truth is the science behind global warming is incredibly complicated and in its infancy. You will need to make up your own minds about whether or not global warming exists. You do that by reading as much as you can and finding evidence for yourselves as to what the reality is.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Birds of Paradise

The Tropical Rainforest is filled with animals and plants with many amazing adaptations. Some adaptations make sense and are logical. For example, as you all figured out in class, plants that are located in the understory have broad leaves in order to capture as much light as possible. Other adaptations that you will find are less obvious.


View the following video and comment on the bird of paradise's unusual behavior.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tropical Rainforest Biome

In today’s class, we discussed the tropical rain forest biome. We know that tropical rain forests are extremely rich communities, holding the most biodiversity of any terrestrial biome. In addition, they are instrumental in helping to regulate climate throughout the world and play a key role in the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen cycles.
Question to ponder:
What is the reason for the great biodiversity in tropical rain forests?

Homework: Go to the following website:

Blue Planet Biomes

Pick one plant or animal and add a comment to this blog describing the organism and any adaptations it has that allows it to survive in the tropical rainforest.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Biome Study!

Happy New Year!!

This week we are discussing the qualities that define a biome. A biome is defined as " a large region characterized by a specific type of climate and certain types of plant and animal communities." In class, we talked about how biomes are often named after the type of vegetation found in that region, for example, "deciduous forest" or "grassland." It is interesting that, in any given biome, climate is the primary driving force, which in itself is driven by location on the planet. Location drives climate. Climate drives vegetation. Vegetation drives the animals.

Question to ponder:

In what ways have plants adapted to survive in their respective biome?

Example: What structures does this cactus have that allows it to survive in the desert?