Monday, November 22, 2010

Earth's Climate Connecting to Geological, Biological & Cultural Systems


We started with an interesting dichotomy:   If it wasn't for Global Cooling, the Beringia land bridge wouldn't have formed, making it impossible for the influx of new inhabitants to North America.

It it wasn't for Global Warming, large areas in North America could not have been inhabited because of the glacial ice sheets.

You win some.  You lose some.

The soil microbes ability in the Arctic to produce CO2 in large quantities is an amazing feat during the winter months.  Down to -7˚C! The video also reminded me of the old adage about the teachers in the bush leaving like flocks of birds when summer came.  Scientists are just touching the proverbial iceberg of learning about the Arctic in the winter months. 

What confused me about the CO2 production by the microbes and climate change was the nagging question, are the microbes to blame?  What evidence was there that this is a natural occurrence and not an abnormality?

image from
My 8 year old son and I watched the Inuit observation video and he could not contain his excitement about a book he just read that followed a native family living in the Arctic.  The book Neeluk, follows the seasonal adventures of a young Inuit boy.  It takes place at the turn of the century, several years before the 1918 flu epidemic that killed so many.  Elementary teachers should take note. 

I have heard locally about the abundance of certain insects and spiders in Alaska the past few years.  Some mountain running buddies remarked how many spider webs they came across as they were cruising the alpine areas around Anchorage. The Yellowjackets were out of control around my house in Indian Valley the past two summers as well.  Climate change?

The formation of all of Earth's elements was a real eye opener for me.  The fusion video where the two scientists are filling up the periodic table of elements was an effective approach to learning where our first 92 elements came from. 

The interactive periodic table will be one of the first to go on my new Promethean white board!


For the past several years, I have introduced my Astronomy unit with the formation of the stars and their chemistry.  I have a lab that excites the kids (because they use Bunsen burners), about the elements and how the electromagnetic spectrum helps Astronomers study the stars.  The lab is a simple flame test using simple salt mixtures and the characteristic flame associated with each element.  The study of stars leads to fireworks, which leads to the elements.  It works out great.
I will be using the Fusion TD video from now on to help introduce the periodic table and my unit in chemistry.  What a great visual. 

Check out the new element book and cards for your classroom.  (Sorry I just love books!)


As I mentioned before, the videos that explained the formation of the elements and the mircobes in the Arctic were useful and filled with science a middle-schooler could grasp. 

I had trouble with the carbon cycle diagram and explanation.  It was hard to read and interpret.  I find simple diagrams easier to read for middle-schoolers.  

Knowing that Genghis Khan's carbon is still out there and might be in the next steak you eat is a fun way to introduce nutrient cycles


I first visited Kenai Kathy's site and commended her on her great resources for a food web unit.  The game will come in handy along with my PLT curriculum.

Next I went to Tyler's site and found two great lessons through the links form Alaska Project Wild and Alaska Resource Forum

Finally, I went to Matthew's blog and came away thinking he and I have the same Alaska reading list!  I couldn't believe the contamination of the Canadian caribou herd from Uranium. 


  1. Konrad try these links to help with the carbon cycle:

  2. Hi Konrad,
    I have noticed an increase in black flies in the alpine around Sitka. They give nasty stinging bites. I don't remember running into them in the alpine before this past summer. It was at the end of a week of sun, and they disappeared once our usual rain returned.
    Also, I think the ground can be warmer where the permafrost has melted. This is partially due to the snow insulating the soil, allowing it to retain the heat that the bacteria produce.

  3. Konrad,

    I think you are on to something by being critical of blaming microbes in permafrost as being complicit in global warming.

    After reading Matt Hunter's blog, it appears that the permafrost emitted logical levels of CO2 based on the month and avg. temp for each year over the 3 year period studied.