Science Challenges

Rainforest in Crisis Lesson

Unit Overview: Students read four articles which provide the necessary background for the subsequent four lessons. Topics include: the carbon cycle, the greenhouse effect, and the Keeling curve for CO2 levels. Students are also introduced to the event/sphere analysis approach to investigating earth systems science. In the final activity, students take a tour of deforestation in the Amazon using Google Earth.

Brazilian Deforestation Unit Intro (pdf, 417 KB)
Brazilian Deforestation Student Worksheet Unit Intro (pdf, 994 KB)

Brazilian Deforestation and the Atmosphere
Students read an article about the impact of deforestation on the atmosphere, and answer review questions. Students use the NASA Earth Observatory website to download datasets, and use Google Earth to open and view them. Students conduct data analysis by summarizing apparent relationships between variables such as Aerosol Optical Thickness and Water Vapor. (zip,429 KB)

Brazilian Deforestation and the Biosphere
Students read an article about the impact of deforestation on the biosphere: the biological carbon cycle; photosynthesis; carbon dioxide, carbon sources and sinks; and the deforestation process upon the landscape. Students use My NASA Data to investigate NDVI (a vegetation index) in Rondonia and Mato Grosso, Brazil, and changes in land-use change over time. Students will learn both visual analysis techniques and quantitative approaches. Students use trendlines or line of best fit in their analyses and make predictions. (zip, 985 KB)

Brazilian Deforestation and the Hydrosphere
Students read an article about the impact of deforestation on the hydrosphere and answer review questions. Students choose two variables and form a hypothesis. Students pick a year to study and use the NASA Earth Observatory website to download datasets showing different variables overlaying Rondonia and Mato Grosso, Brazil. Using visual analysis techniques, students explain whether their hypothesis was confirmed or not. (zip, 1.2 MB)

Brazilian Deforestation and the Lithosphere
Students read an article about the impact of deforestation on the lithosphere: long-term carbon cycle; carbon storage and transfer; forest fires and carbon; and the ocean’s role. Students use a computer-based interactive carbon cycle diagram to examine what impact changes in farmland, plant productivity, sea surface area, deforestation, and use of fossil fuels would have upon the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and ultimately global temperature change. (zip, 341 KB)

 

Updated November 2011