|Educator Resource Kit|
Many researchers believe that an asteroid or a comet crashed into Earth, filling the skies around the globe with dust. Darkness reigned. Temperatures dropped. Acid rain fell. Tsunamis were generated, inundating vast areas of land with water.
The “KT event” spanned nearly 10,000 years, triggering the extinctions of thousands of species, (including dinosaurs and plant life). Could it happen again?
“EXTINCTION!” illustrates several ways that it can. Through graphic representations, timelines and interviews with leading scientists, “EXTINCTION!” explores the KT event and the factors that cause extinctions even today.
Narrated by Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actor William Shatner, “EXTINCTION!” effectively weaves entertainment into its educational message, featuring a reenactment of the KT event that engages the senses on many levels.
“EXTINCTION!” also documents other forces that can impact life on Earth catastrophically. A huge volcanic eruption could create massive ash clouds covering land masses. A massive star could explode in space, with the resulting hypernova sending deadly gamma radiation toward Earth. A major shift in Earth’s magnetic fields could reduce the planet’s shield against cosmic radiation. Humans play a role, too: Our choices affect the delicate balance of life on Earth.
In laboratories and field sites, scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and elsewhere study geologic and paleontologic evidence to learn when and why species become extinct. They study the cosmos to learn about planets and stars. “EXTINCTION!” uses their findings as a strong foundation for its message. UNC-CH faculty members Patricia Gensel, Allen Glazner and Daniel Reichart appear in “EXTINCTION!” along with University of Chicago faculty member Paul Sereno.
“EXTINCTION!” extends the Center’s tradition of excellence in educational programming. Its script, written by Will Osborne (author of the Center’s popular “Magic Tree House® Space Mission” show), reflects science objectives outlined in North Carolina’s Standard Course of Study for middle school and high school students. The show also encourages critical thinking about the degree of control humans have in preventing the loss of species on Earth.