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WorldWatcher Project: Global Warming Project

Teaching Materials by the The Geographic Data in Education (GEODE) Initiative (more info) - Starting Point page by R. Teed (SERC).
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This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


In this exercise, students role-play advisors to various heads of state on the subject of global warming. The web site offers a curriculum to help the students become experts on global warming. It offers lab activities, computer visualizations (using free WorldWatcher software), lots of background readings, and choose-your-own-adventure journeys through the carbon and water cycles. The unit concludes with a summit on global warming at which students give their presentations. For teachers, there is a pedagogical explanation for each activity and rubrics for the presentation and for an energy balance diagram assignment.

Learning Goals

Students will:

Context for Use

This unit is intended to take several lesson periods, depending on which activities the teacher intends to do. There are 33 activities, some of which can be done outside of class and some of which will take less than a class period. The proposed role-play should come at the end of the unit and deals with the international politics of global warming.

Teaching Materials

The Global Warming Unit Plan (more info) links to a whole global warming curriculum, broken into various activities by theme:

It also has links to readings, WorldWatcher Visualization Software for both Mac and PC and teacher resources.

Teachers will also need:

Students will need journals to write in.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This exercise is originally intended for 7-10th graders, but can be adapted in part by upgrading certain activities and making rubrics more demanding. This is a good opportunity for the inclusion of models, data, and quantitative skills development.


There are two assignments and rubrics for assessing each: a presentation on temperature change and an energy balance diagram. There is also an article in here about tracking the project through student journaling.

References and Resources

Interactive role-playing exercises dealing with the complicated issue of humanity's dependence on fossil fuels and its consequences include:


Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate:Climate Change:Natural causes, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science, Atmospheric Science:Climate Change, Climate Change:Public policy , Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate:Climate Change:Anthropogenic causes, Greenhouse effect, Environmental Science:Policy:Global Policy, Environmental Science:Ecosystems:Biogeochemical cycling, Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate:Climate Change:Public policy, Greenhouse gas emissions, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climate Change:Impacts of climate change, Environmental Science:Global Change and Climate:Climate Change:Impacts of climate change, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climate Change:Greenhouse gas emissions, Geoscience:Atmospheric Science:Climatology , Climate Change:Natural causes, Anthropogenic causes, Greenhouse effect

Resource Type

Activities:Project, Activities

Special Interest

GIS, Visualization, Complex Systems

Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use


Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Climate Change, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Atmospheric Science, Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Public Policy, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science, Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Biogeoscience

Environmental Policy

Global Policy

Earth System Topics

Biosphere:Ecology, Human Dimensions:Policy, Atmosphere, Earth's Cycles:Carbon Cycle, Climate


Climate, Atmosphere, Energy/Material cycles

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