This lesson has students read a simplified scientific paper that details research about algae that also produce nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas.
Students read the paper, answer comprehension questions, and watch a video to learn about the effects of increased nitrogen in aquatic environments and on the climate.
Walking students through the background information, methodology, and conclusions, the article allows them to practice and prepare for reading actual academic papers.
This lesson is a great way for students to see how the scientific method is applied in research.
The resource includes additional lesson plans, related articles, and a glossary of key terms.
Students should have a basic understanding of biology and chemistry.
Aside from the video, this lesson can be completed offline by printing the article.
The article is available in both upper and lower reading levels. The article for lower reading levels may be best for younger students and students unfamiliar with basic biology and chemistry.
It may be helpful for some students to use the audio version of the article (the first video).
Some terms like genetic, microbes, and ecosystems may need to be defined for younger students before or after watching the video.
Ecology classes can use this paper to connect to topics such as eutrophication and the nitrogen cycle.
For similar resources, see this lesson on preparing for droughts and this lesson on how whales are affected by climate change.
While all photosynthetic algae sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, some algae actually produce nitrous oxide, an even stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. This research looks at what kind of algae and in what kind of environment produces nitrous oxide. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
HS-ESS3-3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
D4.7.6-8 Assess their individual and collective capacities to take action to address local, regional, and global problems, taking into account a range of possible levers of power, strategies, and potential outcomes.
Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.