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Web Quest:

The Integrated Investigator

 For Earth & Space Science Classes

by Mr. Fisher



Most of us have heard about the sudden mass extinction of the dinosaurs, but did you know that several other mass extinctions have occurred throughout history? While scientists do not dispute this fact, they do disagree as to the probable causes behind these events. Geologists give the reason that it could be related to plate movements and volcanism. Astronomers assert that comet or meteorite impacts may be the culprit. Climatologists claim that shifting weather patterns are to blame. in order to resolve this issue, the National Council of Science has approved a resolution creating a new type of scientist to help resolve puzzles like this one...an Integrated Investigator. Because of your remarkable performance in science class, you are one of the first recruits into this new branch of science. Your job is to integrate the findings of the different disciplines of science into reasonable, coherent explanations of scientific mysteries. But first, you must pass the job interview by investigating and providing an explanation of the mystery of mass extinctions. You will create spreadsheets and graphs for each branch of your investigation and integrate your findings into a plausible conclusion utilizing a PowerPoint presentation.



  1. If you are not familiar with Microsoft Excel click on this link and take the tutorial.
  2. If you are not familiar with Microsoft PowerPoint click on this link and take the tutorial.


1. Geology-Click on the geology link to navigate to the website and collect the data you need for this task. Click on the B.B.C. link for visuals and more data to make your task a little easier. You will need to create a spreadsheet and graph using Excel that illustrates the percentage of species extinct on one axis and the time in millions of years ago when the extinction occurred. You should also label the geologic periods along the time axis of your graph.


2. Astronomy-Click on this link to explore a website that offers data on known cometary and meteorite impacts and when they occurred. Chart and graph the data just like the first task.


3. Paleoclimatology-Click on this link to get to a site that contains a wealth of information about past climate changes, patterns and connections to other scientific disciplines.


4. Integrate-Now, put it all together. Think about all of the data you have collected and make a logical conclusion based on what you have seen. put it all together into a PowerPoint presentation and save it to a disk.

Process- You may work individually or in groups of three with each member investigating a separate branch of science. You must work as a group to complete Task #4.


Evaluation- Your work will be evaluated according to the following rubric:

  0-15 pts. 16-30pts. 30-50 pts.
Spreadsheets Information is

correct for one

task only

Information is

correct for two tasks

Information is

correct for all

three tasks

Graphs Graph is accurate

for one task

Graphs are accurate

for two tasks

Graphs are accurate

for all three tasks



Marginal-failed to

connect at least

two tasks

Average-made the

connection between

two tasks, but missed

connecting all three


connections made for

all three tasks. Conclusion is logical and supported by data



Conclusion-As you should realize from the data that you collected, no single branch of science can explain everything all of the time. Scientific disciplines, although different in focus, approach puzzles like this in much the same manner. Geology, Astronomy, Paleoclimatology all interconnect and complement each other. Realizing the interconnectedness of the sciences and natural systems leads to a true understanding of nature's mysteries like the phenomena of periodic mass extinctions.



Teacher Info.-This web quest is designed to provide students with an opportunity to integrate math and science into an entertaining and thoughtful search for answers. Additionally, students will come to realize the interconnectedness of various scientific disciplines as well as the common thread of mathematics that underscores all scientific investigations. This web quest is structured to meet sections IA, II A, C, D, III A, IV A, B of the National Technology Standards.


Contact Info.- Please address all correspondence and feedback about this web quest to the author at: