Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Get switch, save planet"

This is a YouTube clip, so it won't work at school. Sorry if your computer is sounding an alarm suggesting that you are accessing inappropriate content. 

This clip says a lot about why your ecological footprint in the US is different than it is for someone in China. No matter what decisions you make here in the US, you can't help but use a lot of energy and resources.  In the US we don't have water heater switches in our bathrooms; in China they do.

When I was 10 years old I visited my older sister in Israel. Before a shower there, you had to turn on a switch to a solar water heater that was on the roof of the building where she lived. That was in 1974. Why don't we have anything like that here in the US?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


There are some interesting sources of information about biodiversity on the web. This unit you will need to use both web resources and your text to explore issues around biodiversity.

Start at Biodiversity 911   

Read through each section and answer the following questions on a separate sheet to turn in by 2/25
1. How many species are there on earth?  Of all those species how many are mammals?
Three Levels of Diversity
2. Describe the three levels of diversity.  (don't just list them, explain what they are too)
The Gene Scene
3. Give some examples of genetic traits in humans.
4. Why do you think genetic diversity is important for a species?
Culture and Nature
5. How do you think that nature - the environment in which a particular group of people live- affects culture?  (culture includes things like attitudes, ways of life, religion, clothing, art, music, technology)
A Watery World
6. Why are wetlands, mangroves and other watery ecosystems important for the planet?
The Big Picture
7. Draw a diagram that shows the big picture of biodiversity. Be sure to include how the three levels of diversity interact. 
Countless Connections
8. Give an example of how, if one species becomes extinct, another species may also become extinct.
So What?
9. When you click on "So What" you get more links. Please read through these links and select ONE to write about. Write a short paragraph explaining why the link you chose demonstrates the importance of protecting biodiversity. 

10. Finally learn what you can do. 
Go to  and select 3 steps you think you or your family can take to improve biodiversity in Chicago and around the world.

Your reading assignment for this unit is:
Read and take notes on Ch. 10 in the ES text. Keep these notes in your binder. Due 2/25

Answer the following Biodiversity questions on a separate sheet to turn in Due 3/1
All questions must be answered in complete sentences which re-word the question so the reader understands what you are talking about.
P. 244 Questions 2 & 3
P. 249 Question 1 – This is a short essay in which you must take a position and defend it.
P. 251 Quesiton 1
P. 257 Questions 1, 2 &3
P. 259 Questions 8-15 – Answer the multiple choice questions by writing out the question and the answer you select along with the letter of the answer. Go back to the chapter to make sure your answers are correct.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Our Ecological Footprints

The Ecological Footprint movie we watched in class can be downloaded at the following link. You can either download the whole move, or do it scene by scene. Note that the movie at the link below has a short introduction and conclusion from the Environment Minister of Australia because the state of Victoria in Australia helped to fund the movie.

The following link will take you to a website at which you can calculate your own ecological footprint.

Follow the steps below and answer the questions as you work. 

1. Go to the site and select the United States as your location. Why do you think the site gives you different choices of countries and continents? Do you think ecological footprints the same or different in different locations?

2.  Before you begin, predict how many planets it takes to support your lifestyle.

3. When you get started you don’t have to put in your e-mail… just get started. You will have a choice between “Basic Information” and “Detailed Information.” Please select detailed information so you can get an idea of all the factors that go into your footprint.

4. Why do you think the types of meat and dairy foods you eat are important to your footprint?

5. You may not know where your food comes from… If you grow a garden or buy food at a farmers market, it is grown nearby. If you eat fruits and veggies in the winter in Chicago, that produce must have been grown far away. Why do you think the distance your food travels is important to your footprint?

6. Click on the different types of housing to see which is closest to the building in which you live. Why does the type of house or apartment you live in matter? 

7. Would having more people living in your household make your footprint bigger or smaller? Why?  

8. Here in Chicago, most of our energy does NOT come from renewable resources. Our homes are mostly heated with natural gas and our electricity comes mostly from burning coal and nuclear plants. Unless you have solar panels on your home or a wind turbine in your yard you use 0% renewable energy. Just estimate as well as you can when it asks you about how much your household spends on gas and electricity.

9. When you are answering questions about travel, keep in mind that it is about one mile between Armitage and Diversy or between Cicero and Pulaski. Big main streets in Chicago are about a mile apart. A typical large SUV gets about 13 miles per gallon (MPG) and a  small car such as a Honda Civic gets about 20 MPG. A hybrid Prius can get about 40 MPG.

10. Summarize your ecological footprint:
How many Earths?_____ How many acres? _____ Tons of carbon dioxide?_____
Roll over the pie chart to get % for Food ____ Shelter _____ Mobility _____ Goods ____ Services ______
Which 2 areas do you have the most control over? _____________________________________________

11. Explore the site for a few minutes and write about some actions you can take to reduce your footprint.  What is one action you are ready to take?

12. Please comment on your footprint in the comments section of this post.  Was your footprint more or less than you expected? What was most interesting about the questions on the quiz? What was most interesting or surprising about your results?  What changes do you think you will make? Please describe the experience of finding your environmental footprint. Sign your comment with your first name and last initial to get credit.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Populaiton Ecology - How does competition affect population size?

This assignment is a virtual lab about how competition between species affects population size. You will be using an online simulation that compares populations of two different species of microscopic protozoan paramecia.

When you get to the online lab you will see directions on the left side and an interactive laboratory on the right side. READ the DIRECTIONS on the left side and follow them.

Collect all your data, graph the data and answer the Journal Questions on the lab sheets provided by your teacher, since the computers have trouble keeping and printing the data from this virtual lab.

Use the "information" button in the virtual lab for more information about the paramecia. 

1. Answer the first two journal questions before collecting your data. 
2. Collect your virtual data an record it on your lab sheet.
3. Make a line graph of your data - put "days" on the X axis and number of cells/ml on the Y axis. You will need a key to identify the lines for each type of paramecia gown alone and grown in the mixed culture.
4. Answer the rest of the journal questions when you are done with the graph.

You will need to share computers, but each person in your group should collect all the data and answer the questions in their own words.

Click here to get to the online virtual lab.