Archive for December, 2010

The greenhouse effect

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Greenhouse effect by e3000 on flickr

We all know a little about this important topic.  For our syllabus we must be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is the carbon cycle?  What are the main processes involved in it and how are they connected? The Carbon Cycle
  • What changes have taken place in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over the past century? Biology – Carbon Dioxide Level – Chenille & Hori
  • What gases contribute to the greenhouse effect?
  • What is the relationship between the levels of these gases and the enhanced greenhouse effect? GREENHOUSE GASES
  • What is the precautionary principle?
  • Is the precautionary principle valid when dealing with the greenhouse effect?
  • What are the potential consequences of global warming on arctic ecosystems?

Start with this presentation.  This link is helpful in explaining what the greenhouse effect is NOT.

Water – the liquid of life

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

pondskater by Robbie G1 on flickr

Our new unit is about OCEANS.  In this unit we will cover all kinds of interesting ideas, but we’ll start by looking at the structure and properties of waterThis site has a ton of information on water.  This is another good one.  These videos are useful to help you understand both the structure and the properties. One. Two. ThreeFour

Now try and answer these questions:-

  • Why are water molecules considered to be sticky?  Can you give examples of where this is useful in nature?
  • How can insects like pondskaters walk on water? [See picture] Or how can this lizard run on water?
  • Why can fish survive in a pond during the winter when the pond freezes over?
  • Water is a very good solvent.  This means it dissolves many substances.  What makes it so good as a solvent? 
  • Water is used to transport substances in our body.  Give the names of 2 liquids in our bodies that contain water, and say what they dissolve.
  • Why do we cool down when we sweat?

Ecology 101

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

herbivore by thornypup on flickr

We are about to embark on Topic 5 so that we are ready for our field trip next semester.  Here is the syllabus guide for this section: Topic 5 – syllabus guide

This useful presentation covers the first part of the syllabus, namely Topic 5.1.  Here’s another one by Mr. Hobbins that we will use. Ecology definitions  And this is a table of the main definitions. Topic 5 – Ecology definitions

The basic concepts in this first part of ecology have to do with food chains and webs, the flow of energy through ecosystems, and the recycling of nutrients.

Oil and other resources

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Oil refinery 01 by Wyatt's Virtual Drifting on flickr

We’ll take a look at the world’s natural resources, with a particular focus on oil.  We’ll watch a couple of videos.  This one on fossil fuels explains where oil, coal and gas come from, and leads into our next section on the importance of oil and how to separate it out by distillation.  This video explains how this works in an oil refinery. We’ll do a world energy audit and look at where the natural resources are and what the alternative energy sources might be.

We will discuss the idea of exponential growth and watch this video by Chris Martenson.  We will explore the idea of peak oil, and how this is different to “oil running out” by watching this video.  We’ll then research which countries have oil reserves, and how much, and discover that according to CIA world factbook, that the Philippines is #65 on the list.

We will discuss the following essential questions:

  • Why have humans become so much more productive over the last 250 years when compared to the previous 250,000?
  • What is peak oil, and should we be worried that some people say we have reached it?
  • What will be the consequence of an ever increasing human population and falling fossil fuel energy reserves?
  • Will developing countries ever realize the standard of living enjoyed by people in developed countries?