This resource discusses what it means for a species to go extinct, how species evolve over time, and why many species on Earth are going extinct at increasingly faster rates.
It provides a video, transcript, and a 4-question interactive quiz.
The explanation of these concepts is clear and concise.
The graph shows students the actual rates of extinction compared to the "normal" background rate.
It would help if students were familiar with the terms species, population, genetic diversity, natural selection, and evolution.
Have students write a reflection paper about the complete loss of an entire species (disappearing from the Earth forever) and then have them discuss their ideas for how to stop the extinction crisis.
Connect this lesson to the ecological concept of sustainability using this animation of human civilization over time and this lesson plan about sustainable populations.
Science classes could use this video when discussing other mass extinction events, the diversity of life, evolution, genetics, Earth's history, paleoclimate, population dynamics, or changes to ecosystems.
Social studies and history classes could incorporate this resource into lessons about world history from the 1500s, the Industrial Revolution, or globalization.
To extend a lesson on this topic, consider using this video about how humans affect biodiversity, this article about the loss of wild mammals and birds, and this PBS video about the 6th extinction event.
This 6-minute video introduces the concept of species extinction, first through the example of catastrophic extinction, such as what happened to dinosaurs, and then through other forms of extinction largely centered around human activities and anthropogenic climate change. This is a straightforward presentation and serves as a good introduction to the topic. This resource is recommended for teaching.
English Language Arts
Speaking & Listening (K-12)
6.SL.2 Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.
LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
7.LS2.4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
8.LS4.4 Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
HS.LS4.2 Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.