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Climate Change – Causes and Effects: What is the Quarternary Period?

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Minimum time required

15 minutes

Resources needed

Methodology & teacher’s notes

This activity works best as a starter activity or perhaps as a piece of flipped homework in preparation for subsequent activities.

  1. Start by showing or directing students to a short video or graphic for them to grasp the scale of geological time. The ‘Quaternary period’ started around 2.6 million years ago and even that is a ‘blip’ in Earth’s history. If the history of Earth was a 30cm ruler, then the Quaternary period would only be the last 0.17mm!
  2. Students to then define the Quaternary period – this could be coming up with a class definition using a temperature graph of it. Support them to note that:
  • It started around 2.6 million years ago (or 2.6mya)
  • It marks the time where Earth started glaciation
  • Earth’s climate switches between glacial and ‘interglacial’ periods (could be an opportunity to introduce the term ‘oscillate’)

Optional: Students to annotate the characteristics of the Quaternary Period on the optional worksheet, recording their ideas that result from the activities above.

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