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Desert Beetle Harvests Water

Description:  Certain species of darkling beetles that live in the Namib Desert are able to harvest water vapor using an ingenious series of tips and bumps on their wing scales. The water droplets start to form on the tips and then flow off the waxy bumps to be collected by the beetle. This structure allows the beetle to survive in an incredibly arid environment. It could also be used by engineers to develop a similar system for collecting water for humans. Students should use this and other plants and animal phenomenon to start designing their own solutions to human problems.

Web Resource: Water Vapor Harvesting - Ask Nature, Darkling Beetles  

 

The Asteroid That Killed The Dinosaurs

Description:  It is estimated that 75% of plant and animal (including dinosaur) species went extinct after the Earth was hit with a massive asteroid 66 million years ago. Evidence includes a thin layer of rock containing iridium (rarely found on Earth but common in asteroids) around the planet. Scientists have also discovered a large impact crater. The cause of the extinction is fairly clear but the details of the effects leave much to be explored.

Web Resource:  Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event - Wikipedia

 

Megafauna Extinction: Humans or Climate?

Description:  North America (like Africa today) was once covered with large megafauna (animals weighing more than 100 pounds). This included giant mammoths, ground sloths, and beavers the size of a large bear. However most of these animals disappeared by 11,000 years ago. What was the cause of this extinction? Humans, climate, or a combination of the two? Phenomenon like this can be found around the World and can introduce the idea of human impacts on the environment.

Web Resource:  What Killed the Great Beasts of North America?

 
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Exploring Microhabitats

Description:  Microhabitats can be found anywhere and they can lead to amazing exploration and discovery. An overturned decomposing log or the underside of a rock in a stream are excellent examples of microhabitats. Both a habitat and a microhabitat have typical abiotic (e.g. water, temperature, light. etc.) properties and biotic (e.g. plants, animals, fungi, etc.) factors. The nice thing about a microhabitat is that it is more accessible and a diversity of life can be found in an area that is not very diverse. If microhabitats are not available locally you can create one in your classroom. A terrarium or an aquarium is a great example of a microhabitat.

Web Resource: Microhabitats - Wikipedia