Events at the K-T Boundary Layer in New Zealand: A Case Study

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In this class activity, students will investigate data on the fossil record at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. They will apply their understanding of geology, meteorology, and related disciplines in order to determine whether or not the fossil record supports a meteorite strike playing a role in the extinction of the dinosaurs. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in an accompanying document.

Flores Man Case Study

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In this class activity, students will engage in a case study of the Flores Man skeleton. They will apply their understanding of statistics, anthropology, archaeology, and related scientific disciplines in order to describe the fossils and archaeological material attributed to the new species, Homo floresiensis, and determine what is and is not known about this early hominid skeleton. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

"African Climate Change and Human Evolution": A Case Study

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Orbital forcing parameters.

In this class activity, students will analyze data on rainfall and dust levels in Africa in order to investigate two competing hypotheses about how climate affects human evolution. They will apply their understanding of orbital forcing factors and the use of proxy variables in order to develop a research plan they could use to study African climate change. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

Debate: What Should Be Done about the Changing Climate?

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In this class activity, students will participate in a debate on climate change policy. They will apply their understanding of the scientific evidence for climate change in order to propose specific policies for dealing with the changing climate. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

Vocal Imitation and Learning by Macaques

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Japanese macaque with snowball.

In this class activity, students will analyze data from an investigation of the role of genetics and environment in the development of language. Students will learn about the effects of inter-species adoption on vocalization in macaques and will apply their understanding of statistical concepts (mean, standard error, standard deviation, Gaussian curves). This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

Vocal Learning in Elephants

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Spectrograms showing an example of a chirping sound emitted by an Asian elephant and Calimero’s imitation.

In this class activity, students will review information from a study that investigated vocal imitation in elephants. They will analyze the data to determine the accuracy of the study’s results and interpretations. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

Two-Point Threshold Experiment

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Auditory cortex and basilar membrane.Auditory cortex and basilar membrane.

In this class activity, students will measure the two-point threshold in order to increase their understanding of the magnification principle and how touch is mapped in the sensory cortex of the human brain. Students will also apply their understanding of statistical concepts (random and systematic error, Gaussian distributions) to actual data from previous Frontiers of Science seminars. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

Blind Spot Demonstration

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Blind spot demonstration.Blind spot demonstration.

In this class activity, students will perform an experiment to demonstrate how the brain “fills in” visual information that is missing because it occurs in a blind spot. They will apply their understanding to an investigation of eye diseases that cause vision loss. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

Conservation Reserve Design: Data Analysis Example

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This document contains analyses of data collected by students completing the Frontiers of Science fieldwork activity on Conservation Reserve Design. (A teacher's guide and student guide to this activity are provided in accompanying documents.) These analyses are provided to guide instructors who wish to implement the activity and analyze data collected by their students.

Scale Model of the Solar System

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This activity introduces students to the scale model and how it is used in science. Students collaborate (or compete!) to construct a scale model of the solar system using colored cards. This task works especially well as a warm-up in the first meeting of a small class, and may be useful in any class—not just one on astronomy—where scale models are introduced.