Polar Bears, Brown Bears, and Ireland

Learning Objectives

Students will read a recent science news article and discuss the content.
Depending the on the article, students may be asked to draw connections to current events or other classroom exercises.

Standards Addressed

Depending on the article, one of these standards may be most appropriate:

Subject Area - 1: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

     Standard Area - 1.3: Reading, Analyzing, and Interpreting Literature - Fiction and Non-Fiction

          Grade Level - 1.3.6: GRADE 6

               Standard - 1.3.6.A: Read, understand, and respond to works from various genres of literature

                    Assessment Anchor - R6.A.2: Understand nonfiction appropriate to grade level.

Preparation Time Needed

<30 minutes, enough time to read the article and associated questions, answer the questions, and possibly come up with more that are relevant to recent class exercises. 

Activity Description

(Part of the PAESTA In The News - Current Events in Earth and Space Science Series. This series compiles current resources and background materials for recent scientific events in the news. Questions are provided with each topic, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, and can be used for classroom discussion and/or as a writing prompt at the beginning/middle/end of an instructional unit.)

New DNA evidence shows that polar bears carry genetic material that came from Ireland, where grizzlies (brown bears) once roamed around 30,000 years ago. The finding could change our view not only of polar bear evolution but of the role of cross-species breeding more generally in shaping the living world.

Articles to Share with Students

General Polar Bear Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • What data did the scientists study to achieve their results?
  • What is the significance of this discovery?
  • How could cross-species breeding shape our living world?
  • How might this new information alter conservation efforts?

Compiled July 14, 2011, by L.A. Guertin. Teachers are encouraged to search for more recent articles and related discoveries.

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