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How can anything live in Death Valley?
Plant Adventures Unit | Performance Task
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How can anything live in Death Valley?
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Plant Adventures Unit | Performance Task
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Let’s review what we learned in this unit.
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01/05
There are so, so many seeds on the ground in this picture, but they aren’t growing. Discuss. Why do seeds sit so long in Death Valley without growing?
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02/05
It is usually too hot and too dry for the seeds to grow. But when rainstorms come, it might be time for a superbloom!
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03/05
These flowers are like all other plants. To grow and be healthy, they need water and light. But it can’t be too much or too little—it has to be just right.
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04/05
A few weeks after the flowers bloom, they dry up, like this. Discuss. Why do you think the flowers dry up like this in Death Valley? (Hint: think about the right amounts of water and light.)
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05/05
Death Valley is too hot and too dry for the flowers to live for very long. They get too much heat and light, and too little water.
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In this unit, you saw how important water is for superblooms in Death Valley. Now, let’s explore other parts of Death Valley. We will see how important water is to all living things here.
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Some of the oldest living things on Earth are in Death Valley, and one of the rarest is here, too. Just like superblooms, they need one very important thing that is hard to find here: water.
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We will go to three spots in Death Valley. In each spot, we will find special living things, and we will look at how they get the water that they need.
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01/23
Get a copy of the Water and Life in Dry Death Valley worksheet. Write your name at the top.
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02/23
This is a simple map of Death Valley National Park. We are going to visit three places here. Study your sheet, then discuss. What are the names of the three places we will visit?
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03/23
Let’s leave the places where superblooms happen. Let’s explore the mountains near Death Valley.
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04/23
It is so hot and so dry, even here in the mountains. It doesn’t seem like there is water anywhere.
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05/23
But farther in the mountains, you can find clues to where there is water. Discuss. Where do you think we might find water in this picture? What makes you think that?
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06/23
Plants need water to grow. These plants must be getting water from somewhere. Go to the next slide to climb down and see if we can find where these plants get their water.
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07/23
Click play to climb down to the plants.
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07/23
This is Darwin Falls. Water flows here all year long. If you visit Death Valley, you can hike here and see it for yourself!
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08a/23
Plants here grow big and healthy because they always have water. Look closely at the water. Then, discuss. How would you describe the water in Darwin Falls?
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08b/23
We noticed that the water is blue-green. You can see through the water, so the water is clear. The water is liquid. It is not a solid, like ice or snow.
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08c/23
Write down a few words to describe the water in Darwin Falls.
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08d/23
We had to climb down to get to Darwin Falls. But there are other amazing things to find if we climb higher up instead.
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09/23
Now we are back where we started. Darwin Falls is down below us. If we keep going up, higher and higher, we will find some of the most special living things anywhere on Earth.
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10/23
We are going to travel to Telescope Peak, high above Darwin Falls.
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10/23
This is what it looks like on the highest peaks of the mountains in Death Valley. Discuss. What surprising things do you notice?
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11/23
This amazing tree is called a bristlecone pine. We noticed snow on the ground around it. Death Valley is very hot, but it snows in the mountains. You might have noticed other things.
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12/23
Bristlecone pine trees are amazing. They are some of the oldest living things on Earth. Scientists have found trees that are over 4,700 years old!
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13a/23
But nobody knows which bristlecone pine is the oldest. When you grow up, you might choose to be a scientist that searches for the oldest tree on Earth. It might be near Death Valley!
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13b/23
We can see where bristlecone pines get some of their water in this picture. Think-pair-share. Where is there water in this picture?
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13c/23
The water here is the snow! Snow is solid, frozen water. Discuss. Which words would you use to describe the water here? (Remember: the water is the snow.)
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13d/23
We noticed that the water is white. The water is frozen, so it is a solid. The water is also very cold. You might have noticed other things.
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13e/23
On your sheet, write down words that describe the water at Telescope Peak.
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14/23
All living things need water to survive, but the water is very different at Darwin Falls and Telescope Peak. Now, we are going to travel to one of the strangest places in Death Valley.
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15/23
Click play to travel to Devils Hole.
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15/23
This is Devils Hole. Discuss. What do you think we might find down there?
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16/23
Click play to take a closer look inside Devils Hole.
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17/23
Devils Hole is full of water! Let’s look just under the surface.
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18/23
Discuss. What did you notice?
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19/23
The fish in Devils Hole are very special. They are one of the rarest animals on Earth—some years, there are less than 50 fish total. The water in Devils Hole is the only place on Earth where they are found.
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20/23
Now let’s go even deeper. Some scientists are already in the water. Take a big breath: Devils Hole is very, very deep. Click play when you are ready to join them!
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21/23
Nobody knows how deep Devils Hole is—nobody has ever seen the bottom! If you grow up to be a scientist, you might choose to explore here and be the one to discover how deep it is.
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22a/23
Discuss. How would you describe the water in Devils Hole?
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22b/23
We noticed that the water is liquid. The water is also blue-green. Almost all of the water is underground! You might have noticed other things.
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22c/23
On your sheet, write down words that describe the water at Devils Hole.
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23a/23
Each one of these types of living things needs water, but the water is very different in each place. Think-pair-share. How would you describe the water in each of these places?
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23b/23
Some places almost never have water; other places have water all of the time. Superblooms wait for years to get water from rain. But the plants at Darwin Falls get water all year from the flowing stream.
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23c/23
Some water is frozen solid on top of mountains, and some water is liquid and underground. Bristlecone pines live in snow on tall mountains. The fish swim in water that is so deep, nobody has ever found the bottom!
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23d/23
Discuss. If you visit Death Valley, which of these would you most want to see? Why?
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🎉 That’s it for this lesson! How did it go?
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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
A sign marks the hiking trail to Devils Hole by Wirestock
Bristlecone Pine embraces the Moon by Greg Mitchell Photography
Darwin Falls by Jerome Bon
Darwin Falls / Panamint Dry Lake by Jamie Dixon
Darwin Falls, Death Valley National Park by Flying Camera Studios
Darwin Falls, Waterfall in Death Valley National Park California USA by Kris Wiktor
Devil's Hole pupfish by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region
Father Crowley Overlook to Panamint Valley and Panamint Range, Death Valley National Park, California by Serge Yatunin
Great Basin bristlecone pines by Rick Goldwaser
Lapping Water Gentle by Soundrangers
Panamint Mountains by NPS Video
Underwater Bubbling by Soundrangers
Underwater Wonders of the National Park Service - Devils Hole by NPS Submerged Resources Center
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFO8B6XtLNw by Don Yolo 7
Overview
Grade 2nd
Topic Plant Adaptations
Focus Water, Plants & Animals, & Habitats
6 reviews
Print Prep
Activity Prep

To use alternate supplies, go to the previous version.
In this performance task, students will obtain information about Death Valley in order to see how different living things make use of water in different forms and in different places.

After a review of the Plant Adventures unit, students will virtually travel to different locations in Death Valley. They will make observations about how the water at each location supports a wide variety of incredible living things, ranging from one of the oldest living things on Earth to one of the rarest.

Preview activity

COVID-19 Adaptations
Students can work solo
Students need a printout
Number of students:
Water and Life in Dry Death Valley printout Print 30 copies
Prep Instructions

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

Overview
Grade 2nd
Topic Plant Adaptations
Focus Water, Plants & Animals, & Habitats
6 reviews
Extensions
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