InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Climate of Change > Unit 5: systems@play > Case Study 5.1 - Interactions: Climate's Tangled Web
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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
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Case Study 5.1 - Interactions: Climate's Tangled Web

Cynthia M. Fadem, Earlham College (fademcy@earlham.edu)
Author Profile

This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Jun 24, 2014

Summary

I designed this activity as a role-playing game to help students understand both the concept of climate modeling and how the climate system works. Students take on the role of a climate system component, examining their personal reactions to climate stimuli and building a future scenario based on their group's reactions. You can implement this teaching collection as part of the Climate of Change InTeGrate Module, Unit 5, or as a stand-alone activity.

Learning Goals

During this activity students:

My goals in creating this activity were to:

Context for Use

Prior to the activity students will need some basic instruction on the nature of climate science, modeling, and feedbacks. If you are using the rest of Unit 5, no additional instruction is necessary.

This activity takes roughly 40 minutes and can be used

Description and Teaching Materials

Systems interactions, feedbacks, and thresholds are the conceptual foci of this activity. The game takes up most of class time, so you need to keep a keen eye on the clock and keep things running smoothly to enable students to finish at least building their scenarios (model outputs) during class time with the rest of their model group. (See below for time-saving and simplification tips.) The questions in the assignment portion may be completed as homework.

The game has four parts:

There are further opportunities for reflection and synthesis if you complete both Unit 5 activities, as students will gain complementary insight to ways of knowing climate attributes, roles, and behaviors through climate data analysis in Case Study 5.2.

Materials:

Teaching Notes and Tips

In playing the game, students may want to express their individuality through chaotic or unpredictable behavior, or create new climate thresholds. I like to encourage students to be creative but within limits: remind them that although arguably the future could present an utterly new climate scenario, real models are constructed using past/known behaviors and relationships.

Some students may become bogged down in the detail possible in reacting in the model. The climate response guide contains simple up/down relationships, but once a student is responding to seven forces that conflict, they may find it hard to decide. Remind them to keep things specific but brief in order to keep the class moving.

Time-saving and simplification options:

Assessment

This activity is formative. You can develop exam questions to assess this activity directly from the learning outcomes.

References and Resources

Climate System and Change

Climate Modeling


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This module is part of a growing collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »