Life Inside A Dome
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Many people have wondered: will humans ever live on other planets besides the Earth?

Other planets, like Mars, are very different from Earth.

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To live somewhere like Mars, we would need a dome, sealed off from the outside world. That way we could breathe oxygen and stay warm.

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Scientists came up with an experiment to see if people could live sealed off from the outside world, just like they would have to do on Mars. Nothing could come in or out of the dome. They built a giant dome in the desert where a group of people would live for 2 years.

Here’s a real photo of “Biosphere 2” in Arizona:

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DISCUSS:

What would you put into a dome if you were going to be sealed off from the outside world?

If you’re sealed off, what problems do you expect you’d need to solve?

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In today's activity, you are a scientist working for Biosphere 2.

There are many problems to solve to survive in the dome! Other scientists are making sure that the Biosphere has water, heat and enough oxygen to start out.

Your job is to make sure there’s enough food. While you can bring some food into the dome at first, you’ll run out eventually. So you’ll need to figure out what organisms you should bring inside so that you can keep eating for a few years.

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Get a See-Think-Wonder chart to record your ideas.

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THINK-PAIR-SHARE:

Take a close look at Biosphere 2. What do you notice about the structure? What features of Biosphere 2 will help you grow food?

Record your answers in the SEE column of your chart. Talk to your partner about them and then share your ideas as a class. Your teacher will add your ideas to the class chart.

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THINK-PAIR-SHARE:

What do you think will be hard about growing food for 2 years? What risks can you identify?

Record your answers in the THINK column of your chart. Talk to your partner about them and then share your ideas as a class. Your teacher will add your ideas to the class chart.

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THINK-PAIR-SHARE:

What questions still need to be answered about Biosphere 2 in order to grow food there?

Record your answers in the WONDER column of your chart. Talk to your partner about them and then share your ideas as a class. Your teacher will add your ideas to the class chart.

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Now it's time to do some investigations! During the next six Mysteries, you will explore how living things depend on one another for their nourishment. You will use this information to support, add to, or change your biosphere model. At the end of the unit, you will use your biosphere model to decide if a Mars ecosystem plan would successfully keep humans alive.

Have fun, and stay curious!

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You've completed the Unit Starter!

Be sure to keep each student's "My Biosphere" model accessible. They will use it in the Unit Connection after each Mystery.

Teach Mystery 1 next: Why would a hawk move to New York City?

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Image & Video Credits

Mystery Science respects the intellectual property rights of the owners of visual assets. We make every effort to use images and videos under appropriate licenses from the owner or by reaching out to the owner to get explicit permission. If you are the owner of a visual and believe we are using it without permission, please contact us—we will reply promptly and make things right.

Other
Approaching the Hills by Image used under public domain: NANA, Cornell,JPL , used under Public Domain
Biosphere 2 by Image used under public domain: Daderot
Boy holding up blank paper by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: Moonborne
Fresh bread isolated by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: Simm49
Green butter lettuce by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: Boonchuay1970
Ice dome design by Image used under public domain: NANA, Cornell,JPL
Jack Russel and Rottweiler by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: SikorskiFotographie
One red apple on a white background by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: Igor_Shevchenko
PPPencil02 by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: JohannPoufPouf
Piece of cheese isolated by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: Azure1
Sliced chicken blub sandwich by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: Michael C. Gray
Tomatoes, whole and a half by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: Tim UR
Turkey deli cut isolated on white by Image used under license from Shutterstock.com: Kelly vanDellen
Print Prep
Activity Prep

The anchoring phenomenon for this unit focuses on attempts to grow food in an enclosed ecosystem. Students generate observations and questions about the phenomenon and create an initial design solution to growing food inside a dome for two years.

Preview activity

Before starting this lesson, review the unit Teacher Guide for an overview of the Web of Life Anchor Layer.

In the Unit Starter, students are introduced to the unit anchoring phenomenon, growing food in an enclosed ecosystem. In the activity, students create a design solution to growing food in a dome for two years. They support their solution with an ecosystem model. Students will re-visit their solution and model after each Mystery to add new information to it.

It is important to encourage students to recognize that even if they don't know the perfect answer yet, they are going to learn a lot throughout the unit and have an opportunity to change or add to their first model.

Step 1: Set up your classroom

Set up your classroom by creating a class "See-Think-Wonder" chart (the student version is linked below). We recommend using chart paper, or a space on your board that won't be erased since you will revisit it throughout the unit.

Step 2: Print out worksheets

Each student needs a:

Extensions
Download this Mystery to your device so you can play it offline: