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« Climate Models Discussion
Challenges to teaching climate change and what students should know about models
3874:13219Share edittextuser=3761 post_id=13219 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=3874
I think it is important for students to understand the differences between a weather forecast and climate models. I heard quite often, "How can scientists predict the consequences of global warming if they cannot predict the weather next week?"
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If students have a clearer understanding of what science is, it may be easier to separate the politics of climate change from the science of climate change.
3874:13222Share edittextuser=1087 post_id=13222 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=3874
One of the greatest challenges that I've encountered is to get through the barrier of preconceptions. Students seem to gain most of their (mis)information from television, internet, and/or parents, and those sources often have greater credibility than educators. I am hoping that by asking students to work with real data and have them draw their own conclusions, this will help to replace misconceptions - but it's difficult to dislodge information once ingrained. The next challenge for many of my students is to understand how to deal with real data. Many students who take my introductory courses cannot do simple math, and they are overwhelmed when looking at simple graphs (e.g., CO2 concentrations with time). I would like to develop new strategies for getting them to the finish line without them getting side tracked by their limited math skills.
I agree with Mea that uncertainty in climate models (or any data) is an important but difficult concept for teaching climate. One thing that came out of the first talk, and that I think is important to present to students, is how credible these models are - how well they can reproduce observed data, even with uncertainties considered. I was wondering if there is a way to create a 'bad' model output to compare to a 'good' model output to allow students to see the difference. With their lack of familiarity working with real data, I don't think students have the experience to decide what a good fit is - most of the science and math that they've likely encountered in high school is neatly packaged, with nice trends that are made to be obvious. Perhaps by allowing students to see a model that clearly does not fit, and then one that would be considered 'good' in the science community (even if not every data point matches perfectly, which I think is what students expect), and overlay them with the observed data, they can decide on their own which model seems to do a better job of reproducing the observed data. I'm not sure - just thinking . . .
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3874:13227Share edittextuser=4082 post_id=13227 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=3874
What about group work in which students present pros and cons of some competing GCMs and identify 'best practices' in climate modeling?
3874:13233Share edittextuser=15868 post_id=13233 initial_post_id=0 thread_id=3874
Upper division students have somewhat of an idea what is a model, but they don't see as in Mea's comment the difference in uncertainty and not factual- too much popular press. In many of my classes including field methods, labs, etc. I stress sources of error- what are they, how do they effect your results. Sometimes students take this to heart and declare nothing is valid. I like the idea of having a "bad" model to demonstrate. Very nice.
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