Global Warming in 5 Steps
Scientists say the planet is warming because of human activities, namely the greenhouse effect from carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere when burning fossil fuels. But, how do we know? How do scientists know?
Students are presented with the following questions:
1) What makes a greenhouse gas a greenhouse gas?
2) Is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas? [Instructor: How do we know?]
3) Is the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increasing? How do we know?
4) Is carbon dioxide [in the atmosphere] increasing because of human activities? [Instructor: How do we know?]
—- Discussion of results and prediction of what students expect will happen to global average temperature...
5) Is global average temperature increasing? How do we know?
Separate groups of students research just one question each on the internet and submit a brief summary to the instructor. The instructor and class go over results for just the first four questions. The instructor addresses "How do we know" for questions 2 and 4. Then, students are asked what they think will happen to global average temperature based on results of the first four questions (i.e. make an hypothesis). Finally, the results from the last group are presented and students are asked to discuss how observed global temperature changes compare with their hypothesis.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- Describe essential science behind the idea of human-caused global warming.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
- Demonstrate increased awareness that scientific ideas like human-caused global warming go beyond opinion and are built upon a basis of well-tested physical principles of nature and verifiable observations to support logical conclusions.
- Provide contextual practice in interpreting scientific source material.
- Provide contextual practice in interpreting graphs.
Other skills goals for this activity
- Quickly and easily identify credible internet sources of information.
- Provide contextual practice with group collaboration by researching and formulating a group report.
Description and Teaching Materials
- Student Instructions for Global Warming in 5 Steps (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 16kB Jun1 13)
- Teaching Notes for Global Warming in 5 Steps (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 30kB Jun1 13)
- Summary of Findings for Global Warming in 5 Steps (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 21kB Jun7 13)
- Assessment Info for Global Warming in 5 Steps (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 18kB Jun1 13)