Lab 6: Glacial-Interglacial Cycles


Lab 6 Part 1

The web site lists the ‘Top 10 EcoDisaster Movies’ – cinema focused on the possible ways that our planet could be destroyed by humanity’s own activities.  Including such films as ‘Waterworld’, ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Ice Age: The Meltdown’, these movies constantly bombard us with the message that what we do could have a devastating impact on the planet and its future. Some would call such flicks ‘Hollywood hype’, while others would say that these may be accurate depictions of our future unless we become better stewards of our natural world. While it is very easy just to focus on the entertainment value of such movies (the one that are entertaining at least), we cannot entirely ignore the theme that ties them together. Over the next couple of labs, we will be gaining the kind of knowledge needed to consider the issues related to that theme (of global destruction) in an informed manner. And certainly it would be nice to know if what Al Gore presented in his documentary was indeed ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (, or indefensible exaggeration of what the scientific data really indicates (

Three big questions:

  • Why do glacial periods occur?
  • What happens when Earth transitions from a glacial period to an interglacial period?
  • How does an interglacial period differ from a glacial period?


Glacial-Interglacial Cycles Prezi Presentation by Lab Instructor


Entering with the right mindset
Throughout this lab you will be asked to answer some questions. Those questions will come in three different varieties:

Fact based question →This will be a question with a rather clear-cut answer. That answer will be based on information (1) presented by your instructor, (2) found in background sections, or (3) determined by you from data, graphs, pictures, etc. There is more of an expectation of you providing a certain answer for a question of this type as compared to questions of the other types.

  Synthesis based question →  This will be a question that will require you to  pull together ideas from different places in order to give a complete answer. There is still an expectation that your answer will match up to a certain response, but you should feel comfortable in expressing your understanding of how these different ideas fit together.

Hypothesis based question → This will be a question which will require you to stretch your mind little bit. A question like this will ask you to speculate about why something is the way it is, for instance. There is not one certain answer to a question of this type. This is a more open- ended question where we will be more interested in the ideas that you propose and the justification (‘I think this because . . .’) that you provide.