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The Matrix of Life

Episode 2: Gr 11/12

Secondary

Description

‘The Matrix of Life’ is the title of the second of four episodes in David Suzuki’s television series The Sacred Balance now available to teachers on DVD or VHS.    

This resource, The Grade 11-12 Teacher’s Guide to Episode 2, The Matrix of Life serves as a curriculum document to help teachers incorporate key ideas from episode two into the senior high science classroom.   The guide is organized into ‘pre’, ‘during’, and ‘post- viewing activities that explore life’s intimate relationship with air and waterand a number of supporting themes that include human impact on the Ganges River, the mystery of water, origins of the atmosphere, rain forests and the water cycle, and balancing science and spirituality.  The guide also provides a number of on-line articles, games and simulations that students can review in preparation for viewing the episode and completing the activities.  

Before Viewing-   After examining on-line resources selected by the teacher relating to water, students complete a matching exercise on water chemistry and a concept mapping activity in which they connect water to science, technology, society and the environment. 

During Viewing-   Students are provided with a template to cue their attention to specific issues raised in the program that will be central to the activities and discussion that follow.  Students make brief notes and record key phrases directly on the template.  A script containing dialogue excerpts is also provided with the guide to minimize the amount of note-taking required. 

After Viewing- Students read on-line articles relating to the research and world views of the speakers featured in the episode and express their perspective on life’s connection to water and air by answering a number of questions. In addition to the student activities the guide includes a glossary and provides teachers with background information and suggestions for planning and implementation.  The Secret Balance website has links to related sites and sources of information. 

Although considered supplementary by the publishers, the program episodes enhance the classroom experience and effectiveness of the student activities significantly.  Episode segments can be found on you tube.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The resource does not teach skills

Strengths

  • The activities provides students with opportunities to articulate their own views on what the important questions are.
  • The activities are based on the dvd/vhs presentation that students will find very entertaining.
  • The resource demonstrates the value of spirituality and world views dominant in cultures that may be different than their own.
  • The resource is easy to use by both students and teachers.
  • The resource provides students with challenging questions and includes answer keys for the teacher.
  • The activities do a good job in demonstrating the continuity of life on this planet from its origin to the present and students are given an optimistic view of the future.

Weaknesses

  • The on-line video clips from the episode are no longer available 
  • The link to the photosynthesis simulation is broken.
  • The activities do not include action experience.
  • The activities do not teach skills.
  • The activities do not include out-of-doors experience.
  • There is little attention paid to cooperative,or authentic learning.
  • The student learning is primarily passive.
  • Little attention is paid to assessment.
  • The cost of the dvd/vhs is approximately $90.00
  • The Sacred Balance Website is highly commercialized

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 20:Energy and Matter Exchange in the Biosphere
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth Science 11: The transfer of energy through the atmosphere creates weather and is affected by climate change
        • Earth Science 11:The distribution of water has a major influence on weather and climate.
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Gases and the Atmosphere
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
  • New Brunswick
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    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 11: Biodiversity
    • Grade 12
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 122/121: Evolution, Change and Diversity
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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    • Grade 10
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
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        • Biology 2201: Ecosystem Interactions and Population Dynamics
      • Science
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        • Science 2200: Ecosytems
    • Grade 12
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 3201: Evolution, Change and Biodiversity
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography 3200/3202: Land and Water Forms
        • World Geography 3200/3202: Ecosystems
  • Northwest Territories
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    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 20:Energy and Matter Exchange in the Biosphere
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20: Changes in Living Systems
  • Nova Scotia
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    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 11: Interactions among Living Things
    • Grade 12
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 12: Evolution, Change and Diversity
  • Nunavut
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    • Grade 11
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20: Changes in Living Systems
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
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        • Biology 11(Univer.Prep.) Evolution
    • Grade 12
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep) : Ecological Systems: Interactions and Interdependence
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Preparation): Human-Environment Interactions
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth and Space Science (Univ. Prep) Recording Earth's History
  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 11
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      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 521A: Maintaing Dynamic Equilibrium
    • Grade 12
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      • Biology
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        • Biology 621A: Change and Diversity
  • Quebec
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    • Grade 10
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      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science & Technology:The Living World
  • Saskatchewan
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    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Biology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biology 30: Life and Evolution
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth Science 11: The transfer of energy through the atmosphere creates weather and is affected by climate change
        • Earth Science 11:The distribution of water has a major influence on weather and climate.

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Interdependence
  • Indigenous Knowledge (1)

    • Rituals, Spirituality and Worldviews
  • Water (2)

    • Water Cycle
    • Water Use

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory
  • An effort is made in the concept mapping activity to have students connect water to specific aspects/issues of environment, society, science and technology.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity SatisfactoryWhile the learning in this unit is more passive than active, the articles and interviews with scientists help students understand the problem-solving nature of scientific inquiry and the complexity of what appear to be simple things we take for granted. 
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

Some of the questions provided with the activities require students to articulate their opinions on what the key questions are that scientists should be examining.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans GoodThe activities and supporting articles introduce students to the contributions made by spirituality in general and the Hindu perspective in particular.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth SatisfactoryWhile the activities do not provide for out-of-doors experience, the guide does effectively support the theme of interconnectedness among all things both living and non-living.  The 'Postcards from Argon' activity provides students with a very concrete example of this relationship.
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory
  • While the issues and themes addressed in the guide take students around the world, some of the research highlighted is being done in Canada by Canadian scientists.
  • Little effort is made to connect the issues to the students own communities.
  • Few opportunities for concrete learning are provided.
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Very Good

Students are made very aware of the continuity of life from its very origin.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning SatisfactoryWhile science is the main context for this unit, it does incorporate strands from social studies and geography.
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning SatisfactoryMuch of the learning is passive.  Some elements of inquiry are introduced with the simulation activities.
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory
  • The suggested activities include games and simulations.
  • The dvd/vhs presentation provides lots of sensory stimulation.
  • The activities involve students in reading, comprehending, analyzing, synthesizing and articulating.
  • Differentiated Instruction:

    Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

    • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
    • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
    • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
    Experiential Learning Satisfactory
    Experiential Learning:

    Authentic learning experiences are provided

    • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
    • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
    • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
    Cooperative Learning Poor/Not considered
    Cooperative Learning:

    Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

    • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
    • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
    • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
    Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered
    Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
    Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered
    Peer Teaching:

    Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

    • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
    • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
    Case Studies Good

    The activities do not directly involve students in specific case studies.  However much of the material that students are given to read and reflect upon describes real events and current research.

    Case Studies:

    Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

    Locus of Control Poor/Not considered
    Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.