Related issues packaged with a teacher’s guide

by Ellen H. Showell and Fred M. B. Amram

Women Invent in America

Why? How? When? And all that good stuff…


Teacher’s Guide

Teaching Suggestions for
Extreme Science

      Article, Page

"Science on the Edge," pg. 6
The author, an extreme scientist in astronomy and volcanology, explains the risks and rewards that push him beyond traditional science.
Critical Thinking, Inductive Reasoning

"Getting the Picture," pg. 9
IMAX film and projection technology lets viewers feel as if they are participants in an extreme science adventure – from the heights of Mount Everest to the depths of a coral reef. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how IMAX films are made.
Applications, Problem-solving

"Handling Crocodiles: Some ‘Tails’ from the Tropics," pg. 14
A college student traveled to Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state, to research the American crocodile population and the invasion of Morelet crocs. A sidebar (pg. 17) lists factoids about crocodiles.
Vocabulary, Inductive Reasoning

"You Don’t Really Know a Glacier . . . Until You’ve Lived Under One," pg. 18
Every spring, Neal Iverson sets up his laboratory under the shifting ice of the Svartisen Glacier in Norway. There, he investigates the movements of glaciers and the forces that shape climate.
Deductive Reasoning, Forming Conclusions

"Journey to the Jungle," (Activity to Discover), pg. 21
As you move around this gameboard, you will learn some of the pitfalls of extreme science adventures.
Following Directions, Decision-Making

"Spider-Man and Extreme Science: A Web of Connections?" pg. 24
Sometimes extreme science and comic book science converge: for example, Wonder Woman’s invisible plane (stealth fighter) and Dick Tracy’s wrist radio (cell phone). Maverick science can be risky, and it can challenge time-honored beliefs.
Analogy, Application

"Survivors Extraordinaire!" pg. 28
Roundworms were the only survivors of the Columbia crash in 2003. They survived heat and extreme forces, while consuming a newly developed food.
Inductive Reasoning, Vocabulary

"I, Robot: Frontier Scientist," pg. 30
Robots act as extreme scientists, replacing human explorers on other planets, under the ocean, and even in war zones. A sidebar (pg. 33) asks when and if robots are better than humans. Send your answers to ODYSSEY.
Vocabulary, Applications

"Engineers Taking It to the Extreme!" pg. 34
The world’s tallest building, a maglev supersonic train, and a massive nuclear waste disposal site reveal how extreme engineers think and work.
Applications, Extrapolation

"Possibility Is Everywhere . . . Even in Poisonous Snails!" pg. 38
Edward Moczydlowski and Jon-Paul Bingham research one of the most poisonous creatures alive, the cone snail. Bingham "milks" the snails for their neurotoxin, while Moczydlowski looks for possible pharmacological uses for the venom.
Vocabulary, Applications

"Observing an Occultation," pg. 42
Occultations are rare but predictable, so don’t miss the event on December 7. Get up early and dress warm!
Observation, Following Directions

"Extreme Temps" (Brain Strain), pg. 45
These little extremophiles survive at very low temperatures. How low? That’s the secret that Dr. Brain and the calculating reader understand.
Calculation, Critical Thinking

"Into the Mouth of a Giant: Life at Mount St. Helens" (Fantastic Journeys), pg. 46
Follow these students as they hunt for new life on the slopes of Mount St. Helens, more than two decades after a volcanic eruption reshaped the landscape.
Investigative Processes, Cause and Effect

Think Tank (Discussion Starters to Use Before Reading the Magazine):
  1. Can the work of a research scientist be dangerous? Make a list of the dangers – both physical and intellectual – that scientists face in their quest for knowledge. How do you feel about the dangerous side of science? Do you find it appealing?
  2. Extreme research often takes investigators to dangerous places. Identify some of them. What are scientists looking for when they go to hazardous locations?
Classroom "Syzygy":     Talk, Connect, Assess
Pg. 14 – "Handling Crocodiles"
  • Talk It Over:
    1. Why should scientists study crocodiles? What is unique about them and why are they so fascinating? How might research on the crocs of Chiapas help us understand and protect other animal species?
    2. How is the current threat to the crocs of Chiapas different from the dangers they have survived in the past? How do other animal species in other places face similar threats?
  • Connections:
    1. Visual Arts: Find a large picture of a crocodile or draw one poster-size. Label your poster picture with all the tidbits and trivia information you can find about crocs. Begin with the information from page 17 ("Croc Morsels"). Display your poster with others, perhaps for a poster competition.
    2. Persuasive Writing: Imagine an exotic trip you would like to make for scientific research. Write a grant application, asking for money to pay your expenses. Make sure you effectively "sell" your idea and explain the benefits you expect from your research.
    3. Graphic Arts: Create a brochure to persuade tourists to "vacation" with your band of crocodile researchers in Chiapas. Yes, they will be working, but it’s your job to make the work look exciting. Use illustrations and graphics to reveal the dangers, but put the emphasis on the thrills that await your clients in Mexico.
  • Student Assessment:
    1. Write a how-to manual giving instructions to anyone who wants to capture a crocodile. Include summary lists of dos and don’ts.
    2. How are crocodiles adapted for survival? Write a list of survival traits that have evolved in crocodiles. Add a brief description or explanation of each trait.
Pg. 30 – "I, Robot: Frontier Scientist"
  • Talk It Over:
    1. What are the advantages of using a robot to gather data? What are the disadvantages? How can scientists maximize the positives and minimize the negatives?
    2. Review the sidebar "Partners or Rivals?" on page 33. When is it better to use humans instead of robots? Look over the list of occupations. What are the arguments for using humans or robots in these jobs? Can you devise any general rules or guidelines for when it is better to have a robot do the work?
  • Connections:
    1. Graphic Arts: Write a sequence of steps in logical order that would allow a robot to perform a simple task, such as turning to the left and picking up an object. On a poster, write your steps in order and draw a picture or diagram of a robot as it performs each step.
    2. History: Read the short play R.U.R., written in 1923. It describes a world where mechanical robots replace human workers. Eventually the robots revolt and destroy humanity. Organize a discussion of this play. How realistic are the robots in it? What topics about robots are still relevant today?
    3. Creative Writing/Public Speaking: Write a eulogy for a robot that "gave its life" in the line of duty. Say the same kinds of things you would say in a human eulogy. Offer your eulogy to the class along with the story of your robot’s "life" and "death."
  • Student Assessment:
    1. What is a robot? From what you have read, construct your own definition. Then, in a clear informational essay, apply your definition to two or three specific robots, showing how your definition fits.
    2. Pretend that you are speaking at a dinner of people interested in robotics. Describe the design and functions of a robot mentioned in the article. Don’t forget to explain how it works and what it does.
Far Out!: Moving Beyond the Magazine (with a few more records from

35, 813 feet (10,915 meters) – the deepest point in the oceans, the Challenger Deep of the Marianas Trench in the South Pacific Ocean

Individual Project: Write a short story, play scene, or journal in which the main character is an extreme scientist. Collect the creative writing projects and publish them as an anthology.

136o F. (57.8o C.) – El Azizia, Libya, the hottest place on Earth (recorded Sept. 13, 1922)

Community Connection: Compile an annotated bibliography of nonfiction titles about extreme science and create a display of books for your local public library. The books can be about inventions, discoveries, or scientists who risked their lives to advance their cause.

1300 feet (400 meters) below sea level – the lowest land point on Earth (at the bank of the Dead Sea in the Middle East between Jordan and Israel)

Small-Group Project: Working in teams of three or four, review this issue of ODYSSEY and select 30 or more words that have something to do with extreme science. Use your list to make a large, poster-size crossword or word search puzzle. Hang the puzzle in a convenient location where passersby can contribute to its solution. Don’t forget a pencil on a string.

33 billion tons of debris covering over 20,000 square miles – the massive eruption of the Taupo volcano in New Zealand in A.D. 130, the largest volcanic eruption of all time

Whole-Class Project: Research on the Web and in your library for the names of extreme scientists who have risked their lives in the course of their research. Draw or copy pictures, write short biographies, and create a classroom time line of extreme science adventures.

Over 1,000 ODYSSEY™ articles and over 8,000 articles from seven other Cobblestone Publishing magazines are available in our subscription-based online searchable archives.
Parents and teachers, try out the FREE index.

Please see our Privacy Policy

Copyright © 2005 Cobblestone Publishing

Last modified: January 1, 2005