Our Habitable World


Created by Khoa Nguyen, Michal Brylinski, Benjamin Maas, Kristy Stensaas, Suniti Karunatillake, Achim Herrmann, and Wolfgang Kramer, this teachable unit aims to implicitly enable scientific modeling skills among the students. With developing a conceptual model from a set of observations as the underlying goal, variations in atmospheric oxygen content provides context.

Accordingly, students would attempt to understand chemical, biological, and geological processes that affect oxygen content of Earth’s atmosphere over geologic time scales. We considered the period from the outgassing of Earth’s atmosphere >3 Ga ago to the present because those events had the most significant impact on atmospheric oxygen content. Sources and sinks for atmospheric O2 are emphasized. Students will be able to utilize the developed skills to predict the effect of a hypothetical event on atmospheric O2 levels.

(Text from the Yale Center for Scientific Teaching's Teachable Tidbits).

How the unit is designed to include participants with a variety of experiences, abilities, and characteristics

-Allow students to choose the medium or technology in which they research or find these events (internet, books, podcast, video, etc. to match the learning styles)

-As a diversity aspect, tidbits have been divided into four different aspects to accommodate different learning styles (lecture, group work, think-pair share, clickers)

-Separation of numerical event is math-friendly (no math bias)

-No grading bias

Activities in class/during tidbit:

-Estimate and graph the oxygen level for each event on the graph.

-Follow-up activities relate events to geological timescale in groups.

Post-tidbit assessment:

-Follow-up clicker questions on evaluating bloom levels 3-5.

-Addressing misconception of the important of chemical and biological processes over geological time.

Learning goals:

-Students will be able to analyze data and construct a graph.

-Students will be able to understand the importance of evolutionary events on atmospheric oxygen content.

Learning outcomes:

-Given an event, students will be able to use the graph to predict the outcome.

-Students will be able to develop a response to changes in an environmental condition.

-Students will understand the co-evolution of chemical and biological systems on a geological timescale.

The corresponding powerpoint and lesson plan are available for download below.
Additional materials are available at the Center for Scientific Teaching at Yale.

This activity was contributed by Yale University.

framework.docx13 KB
presentation.pptx1.2 MB