The New Explorers
Searching for the Origins of Life
Where did life begin? This question has plagued humankind since its existence. But scientists today are making progress towards the answer in some unusual places and under some interesting circumstances. This episode of The New Explorers follows scientists to Yellowstone National Park in search of one-cell life forms that exist in the most inhabitable of environments-boiling mud. Could these minute creatures hold the answers to the most vexing question? Searching for the Origins of Life would be useful for classes on Biology, Earth Science, Ecology and Geography. It is appropriate for middle school and high school.
Students will learn about the ways in which scientists are searching for the origins of life in different areas. They will explore the biological mysteries of life, as well as the environmental conditions necessary for biological life to occur.
National Science Education Standards
Searching for the Origins of Life fulfills the following National Science Education Standards: Unifying concepts and processes in science; science as inquiry; life science; Earth and space science; science in personal and social perspective; history and nature of science.
Scientists think that the answer to discovering the first life forms lies in geo-thermal activity? What is geo-thermal activity? Why do scientists think it holds the keys to understanding the origins of life?
Scientists call Yellowstone National Park a natural laboratory. What is a laboratory? Why is Yellowstone a natural laboratory?
What is a microorganism? How does it differ from other organisms?
What is chemosynthesis? How do microorganisms use this process to stay alive? How does it differ from photosynthesis?
What is a theory? How do theories try to explain the world around us? Why do some theories go out of vogue? What are some of these theories? How do scientists prove and/or disprove theories?
What is Charles Darwins theory of evolution? Why has this theory been so controversial throughout the 20th century?
What causes iron to rust? How do scientists track biological history through rust?
What is pyrite? Why is it called "fool's gold?"
Yellowstone National Park is known as the citizens backyard. Why?
Create a poster that compares the processes of chemosynthesis and photosynthesis.
Research the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. How does this trial reflect the anxieties about evolutionary theory?
- Follow this link (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/inherit/1925home.html) to a website about The Scopes 'Monkey Trial' - July 10, 1925 - July 25, 1925 which contains contemporary journalists accounts of the trial.