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How To Buy The Curriculum

The curriculum is published by Its About Time publishers.  It is available in electronic and/or print-on-demand form. Purchase of the text will also includes access to the Teacher Guide, an electronic version of the Student materials and extensive additional resources online. You can find it on the publisher's website at

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Biocomplexity and the Habitable Planet uses a case study approach to engage students in the science of coupled natural and human systems, exploring the complex fabric of relationships between humans and the environment at all spatial and temporal scales. Biocomplexity consists of inquiry-based investigations designed around cases in urban, agricultural, tropical and polar systems, in which students address environmental land use challenges increasingly confronted by society. Students gather evidence and marshal arguments in support of possible solutions.

Our mission is to foster the understanding of the complex fabric of relationships between humans and the environment, vital and important knowledge for all citizens in an era of global human impact on the environment. We can no longer study УnaturalФ systems without considering human interactions. High school science materials should reflect this critically important fact, and also support students to engage in authentic investigations. With its coverage of biocomplex systems, multiple uses of scientific and social-science data, and emphasis on student inquiry, Biocomplexity offers an excellent capstone experience for 11th and 12th grade students as a replacement module, a semester course or a year long intensive series of units.

Students develop ecosystem literacy at the local scale of their familiar schoolyard ecosystem. They make a land use decision regarding the addition of an athletic field to the school grounds and investigate how land use impacts hydrology, nitrogen flux, biotic factors, social factors, and ecosystem services. They build a case for their chosen land use decision by constructing evidence-based arguments that take impacts, ecosystem services and social factors into account.
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Students explore the impact of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity as they consider the proposed conversion of farmland to a suburban housing development. They map landscape elements and investigate biodiversity, social factors, fluxes of carbon, the economics and role of commodity subsidies, and the impact of green design. They debate land use alternatives and build a coherent scientific case to support their chosen land use plan for an abandoned farm.

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Students explore connections between the agricultural and grazing practices currently responsible for large-scale deforestation in Amazonia, and local, regional, and global climate. They investigate the role of rainforest in regulating atmospheric gases and stabilizing rainfall. They analyze patterns of Amazonian deforestation and habitat fragmentation, analyze the economic ecology of soybean production, cattle ranching and forestry land uses, and conduct a stakeholder analysis. Finally, student teams prepare a plan for a small region of Amazonia, juggling types of land use to optimize critical factors such as biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, economic benefits and viable agriculture.

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Since habitat disruption due to climate change is at its most dramatic in the Arctic, many species are showing signs of rapid impacts. Students explore impacts on the Arctic biota that result from changes related to local warming. They investigate abiotic changes due to fluxes of heat energy in the Arctic. They learn about population dynamics, conservation biology, adaptation and natural selection to understand the УoptionsФ available to Arctic species. Building on data about already occurring changes, they forecast what is likely to happen to selected Arctic species as the climate continues to change, and make a case for appropriate conservation strategies for these species.

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Within each unit there is a series of activities called Lessons. Each Lesson is based upon a learning goal that will be a guide to what students are learning. Every lesson within a unit prepares students for the unit Challenge, a project that makes use of all information presented in the unit. Although the Challenges are introduced in the beginning of the unit and referred to in each lesson, they are intended as final projects and performance assessments to be completed at the end of each unit.

Other features of the Biocomplexity curriculum include:

  • Readings – Many lessons have short readings associated with them. They are intended to take students to a deeper level of understanding of the topics under investigation in the lesson.
  • Investigation Protocols – Protocols are supplied when students perform field or lab investigations or learn new technology applications. They are placed after the lessons in each unit so they can be used and referenced when needed.
  • Unit Reviews – Students can review the key learning goals of the unit, as well as use multiple choice and short answer assessment questions for review.  
  • Blackline Masters – You will find copies of the tables and charts and other student materials at the back of the Teacher Guide.
  • Glossary – A glossary of terms is provided at the end of the curriculum
  • Biocomplexity Website – Teachers can find copies of the curriculum materials, links that provide additional resources, examples of student work, as well as video clips and datasets for student use in all four units.