Enabling students to understand and analyse contemporary issues in science and technology

Activities for Sustaining the variety of life on Earth

Here are activities to help with the teaching of this topic.

Madagascar out of time?
This activity uses role play to examine conflicting demands on an ecosystem which contains an endangered species, the gentle lemur as well as important sources of livelihood for several groups of local people. It is based on an activity originally written for Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.6 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (126 KB)
Madagascar Powerpoint (3.4 MB)

Carrying out a media watch on biodiversity
This activity will encourage students to follow media stories related to the topic. They should collect and comment on a range of stories and share them with the class.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.5 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (33 KB)

Exploring biodiversity
In this activity students use the Natural History Museum’s website ‘Exploring biodiversity’ http://internt.nhm.ac.uk/eb/spprich.shtml to provide background on what is meant by biodiversity, how it is measured and how species are classified.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.6 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (40 KB)

Is DNA the answer to classification?
This activity introduces the use of DNA sequences for classification of organisms and for estimating the relationships between species. Students compare short sequences from different species and answer questions about the technique.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.7 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (92 KB)
DNA classification Powerpoint (1.3 MB)

Millennium seed bank
In this activity students watch a 20 minute film, ‘Banking on life’ about the Millennium seed bank and discuss the project and its importance.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.6 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (34 KB)

The value of ecosystems
In this activity students, in groups, study diagrams and text from different parts of a Millennium ecosystem assessment report: Ecosystems and human well-being. They then form ‘cross-over groups’ to explain an area of importance to each other.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.7 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (58 KB)

Exam-style question - Ecosystem functioning
This question is about ecosystem services and some of the issues involved in protecting ecosystems from exploitation and damage.
Teacher notes and student sheets (1.5 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (97 KB)

The Ordovician explosion
In this activity students skim read an article from New Scientist about the explosion of biodiversity in the Ordovician to find examples of how scientific explanations are developed and tested.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.8 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (122 KB)

Are aliens a bad thing? – case study
This activity is about the effects of alien species on ecosystems. It is similar in style to the Unit 4 assessment and is designed to help students prepare for this.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.7 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (78 KB)

Creating a Wiki to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of biodiversity hotspots
In this problem–based activity, students are given two resources with conflicting views on the effectiveness of demarcating biodiversity hotspots. The students create a Wiki to discuss and publish their findings on the strengths and draw-backs of the hotspot initiative.
Teacher notes and student sheets (2.9 MB)
Teacher notes and student sheets (72 KB)