“Tree-killing beetles” is one lesson from the Data Nuggets website. Data Nuggets are lessons that originated from a partnership of teachers and scientists to address both the needs of scientists to share their research broadly and improve their communication skills and the needs of teachers for authentic resources that help students engage in the practice of science. Data Nuggets give students practice interpreting quantitative information and making claims based on evidence. In this activity, students use and/or construct graphs to facilitate data interpretation, and are challenged to construct explanations based on evidence.
“Tree-killing beetles” begins with the phenomenon of lodgepole pine forest devastation by mountain pine beetle outbreaks. One scientist, Tony Vorster, observed a potential correlation between tree size and beetle infestation. The driving question is, “How does the average tree size in a forest influence its susceptibility to mountain pine beetles?” The lesson involves discovering the scientist’s (Tony Vorster’s) hypothesis, graphing and/or data analysis, making a claim, and providing evidence and reasoning to support the claim. The lesson includes a teacher guide (available by email request: firstname.lastname@example.org), student activity sheets at three different proficiency levels, background information, a grading rubric, and additional support and information, including a scientific paper associated with this study, is also included as a resource.