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AIM-UP! Coal balls lesson

By Monte Garroutte1, Jordan Metzgar1, Hirotsugu Mori1

University of Alaska Museum of the North

In this activity, students learn about ancient plant life and climate change by examining coal balls. In addition to the lesson itself, information is provided on where to purchase coal ball peel kits for hands-on experience.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group AIM-UP

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Version 1.0 - published on 22 Jan 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4868X - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International according to these terms


In this activity, the student will learn about fossil plants contained in coal balls and how plants have responded to climate change. It integrates the fields of botany, paleobotany, geology and ecology. The activity is scalable and parts could be used for a lab with a mini-lecture to introduce key concepts, while other more in-depth information could be presented in a longer lecture. Furthermore, the activity could be expanded into a term project for an advanced upper division course. The lesson plan follows the learning cycle of engagement, concept introduction, application, and assessment.


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