BiomeViewer

Contributor
Mark Nielsen, HHMI BioInteractive
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Tool/Software , Numerical/Computer Model
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

BiomeViewer, an interactive app from HHMI BioInteractive, is designed to engage students in three-dimensional learning as they explore the phenomenon of human impact on biodiversity and the environment. BiomeViewer contains data about biomes, anthromes (anthropogenic biomes), precipitation, and temperature. When students select anthromes, they can see how humans have changed the environment over time from 1700-2000. Students may also select a location on the globe and receive a description, climate data (downloadable on Apple devices), wildlife information (mammals, amphibians, and reptiles), and references for further information. Comparisons can be made between two selected locations. BiomeViewer also includes educator materials.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.

Clarification Statement: Examples of mathematical representations include finding the average, determining trends, and using graphical comparisons of multiple sets of data.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to provided data.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The maps, climate and wildlife data in BiomeViewer are authentic mathematical representations that students may use to ask questions or to analyze data at two different scales. Students may look at data on the global scale in either a global shape or a Mercator projection by selecting the globe icon on the upper left. The global map may be enlarged to look at a more local area. To obtain data at the biome scale, students may either select a spot on the globe/map or enter the name or latitude/longitude of a location in the search field. Teachers may want to explore the app on their own prior to using it in the classroom as some features may not be obvious. For example, by selecting a location on the map/globe, information pops up in a sidebar on the right. At the bottom of the sidebar is an information icon. When this information icon is selected, students can look at data which may be downloaded using an Apple device. (The downloadable feature is not available on non-Apple devices.) To gain mastery towards the performance expectation, students should conduct research to answer their questions and develop explanations.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students can make their own comparisons of data within the app or download map, climate, and wildlife data for their own additional analyses. The app can compare two places but students could use additional technology (Such as Google Sheets or Excel) to generate more comparisons. From these comparisons, students can make valid and reliable claims. Additional resources are provided within the app for students to do further research to support their claims.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Teachers may want to allow students to first become familiar with the different features of BiomeViewer on their own. A generative question may help students to engage with the app. Such questions may include: 1) Can you find two widely spaced places on Earth that are very similar? Why do you think they are alike? or 2) How do you think humans have impacted the data you see represented in BiomeViewer? Once students have begun to experience the app’s options, then they will most likely generate their own questions. These questions should be encouraged and students can use the provided resources to seek additional information.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The scale of this app is larger than an ecosystem, so if teachers want to more fully explore this disciplinary core idea, they may want to encourage students to do further research and select an ecosystem within a biome of their own choice. Students could also select two different locations within one biome to see that biomes contain similar but not uniform ecosystems. However, students can examine how biomes may have changed over time using the Anthromes tab on the left of the BiomeViewer. This allows students to compare data from 1700 -2000 at one hundred year increments. Of particular note may be to see how wildlands have changed over time. Teachers may want to encourage students to look at different scales - both the global scale (using the Mercator projection map) and then a smaller scale - continent, country, or biome within a certain geopolitical area. Selecting the gear icon at the upper left will provide students with an option to show political boundaries.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
As previously mentioned, the BiomeViewer allows students to look at global representations, or to change the map so that smaller areas may be viewed. In addition, students may select specific places to examine climate and wildlife data. Teachers may want to encourage students to ask questions about the data at different scales and then see if they can support a claim by analyzing the data.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: BiomeViewer is a tool to help engage students in three-dimensional learning as they seek to make sense of the phenomenon of human impact on biodiversity and populations at different scales over time. BiomeViewer drives student learning by making available authentic data which students can analyze to answer questions and support claims.

  • Instructional Supports: Although BiomeViewer uses authentic data and can drive three-dimensional learning, it does not have extensive instructional support. Teachers will need to supplement the use of BiomeViewer with additional ways to elicit evidence of student learning and sharing. There are no suggestions provided for differentiated instruction. However, there is a gear icon on the upper left of BiomeViewer with a choice that says, “More Information.” When selected, a new text box appears with three tabs - “About”, “Educators”, and “Credits.” Within the “Educators” tab, are suggestions for how to use BiomeViewer within the classroom.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Teachers will need to support the use of BiomeViewer with additional ways to monitor three-dimensional student learning and evaluate student understanding.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: BiomeViewer creates an individualized student experience by offering students flexibility and individualized control during their learning experience. The app is well-designed and when tried on a number of different devices, worked well on each. In order to download data, students will need to use an Apple device. Otherwise, any device will work well.