Ecology and Systems Biology: Extreme Environments

Today we focused on 8 factors that are commonly found in environments we consider to be extreme.  Students began the lesson with an introduction to the bell curve and an brief explanation of the mean and standard deviation.  Students then silently brainstormed three examples of things they consider extreme, with an explanation about why.  During our share out, students were encouraged to consider whether the idea of “extreme” is relative.  For example, we might regard a skydiver as someone who participates in an extreme sport.  However, the skydiver might share a different perspective.  Similarly, we might classify a polar bear as an extremophile, given it’s ability to live in extremely cold temperatures.  However, the polar bear, being unable to live comfortably away from the south pole, might consider organisms living in warmer climates as extremophiles.  After learning about the 8 factors and exploring representative locations and organisms at those locations (see Power Point slides), students completed their extreme environments critter diagrams from yesterday.