Data Puzzle: What's the Limit?

Moss campion is a brightly-colored flowering plant that is adapted to live for a long time in harsh arctic and alpine tundra ecosystems. Because of this, and the fact that they live in a wide range of latitudes in the U.S., moss campion can give scientists insight into how changes in climate might impact plant species and their ability to adapt to such changes. After analyzing and interpreting moss campion growth and survival data, students will explain how latitude impacts and affects these hearty tundra plants. 

Context for Use

This Data Puzzle is part of a larger collection of Data Puzzle resources that combine classroom-friendly datasets with Ambitious Science Teaching practices to help students make sense of phenomena!

Moss campion plant photo by Dan Doak

Photo of a moss campion plant by Dan Doak

Goals Header
What Students Will Do

  • Analyze and interpret growth and survival data for moss campion across latitudes to look for patterns and relationships
  • Construct conceptual models to explain how climate and environmental variation with latitude affects the growth and survival of moss campion differently

Teaching Materials

What's the Limit? Teacher Guide
What's the Limit? Student Worksheet
What's the Limit? Slide Deck


Days 1-2

  • Part 1 (30 minutes) Eliciting Students' Ideas

Students consider how different plants are adapted to different environments by looking at specific examples. 

  • Part 2 (50 minutes) Identifying Important Science Ideas

Students engage with an interactive reading to 1) identify similarities between the opening scenario prompt and the work of Dan Doak, Bill Morris, and Megan DeMarche related to long-term moss campion growth and survival, and 2) make predictions as it relates to the scientists' research question, "How is the growth and survival of moss campion affected by latitude?"

  • Part 3 (40 minutes) Supporting On-Going Changes in Thinking

Students test their prediction about how latitude might affect moss campion growth and survival by analyzing growth and survival datasets over a range of latitudes in the United States.

Day 3

  • Part 4 (60 minutes) Explanatory Model Construction

Students reflect on evidence gathered during parts 1-3 and construct a final explanatory model for the question, "How is the growth and survival of moss campion affected by latitude?" 

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