Mitch Fox, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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Activity takes about three hours of class time. Computer access is required.Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»
See how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 9 Cross Cutting Concepts, 10 Science and Engineering Practices
Activity can be adapted for undergraduate student audiences.
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing 1a
1.1 Energy is a quantity.
1.2 Thermal energy.
1.3 Energy is neither created nor destroyed.
2.2 Sources of energy on Earth.
Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
Other materials addressing:
Notes From Our Reviewers
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- The spatial resolution of the data (2.5x2.5 degrees versus 20x20 degrees) is different than described in the instructions.To alleviate confusion, educators should talk about spatial resolution and tell students that they will be able to select more data points.
- The instructions for the Java applet are incomplete. Prior to class use, it would be useful for educators to create a set of instructions so students know how to access the data. For example: "After bringing up the control panel, select ERBS. Then select year, month, and band, and hit 'go get data.' You will see the message, 'Extraction is coming up.' At this point, click on one of the latitude bands in the map, which will harvest the numerical data."
About the Science
- Very effective use of data.
- While most data is from the 1980s and does not reflect currently calculated energy fluxes, the activity illustrates several important concepts about radiative balance.
- Activity sets up a research type environment for students.
About the Pedagogy
- A problem-based learning activity where students access and graph NASA satellite data (supported by online calculators).
- Activity can be employed as an individual or group activity.
- This activity models how scientists work. Independent action and thought is required to reach stated goals. Collaboration is also necessary for students to be successful in meeting the research challenge.
- This resource engages students in using scientific data.
See other data-rich activities
Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:
Performance Expectations: 1
HS-ESS2-4: Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1
HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.
Cross Cutting Concepts: 9
HS-C1.4: Mathematical representations are needed to identify some patterns.
HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.
HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.
HS-C3.5:Algebraic thinking is used to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth).
HS-C4.2:When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models.
HS-C5.1:The total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved.
HS-C5.2:Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system.
HS-C5.3:Energy cannot be created or destroyed—only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems.
HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.
Science and Engineering Practices: 10
HS-P2.6:Develop and/or use a model (including mathematical and computational) to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems.
HS-P3.1:Plan an investigation or test a design individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence as part of building and revising models, supporting explanations for phenomena, or testing solutions to problems. Consider possible confounding variables or effects and evaluate the investigation’s design to ensure variables are controlled.
HS-P3.2:Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly.
HS-P3.5:Make directional hypotheses that specify what happens to a dependent variable when an independent variable is manipulated.
HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.
HS-P4.2:Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including determining function fits to data, slope, intercept, and correlation coefficient for linear fits) to scientific and engineering questions and problems, using digital tools when feasible.
HS-P5.3:Apply techniques of algebra and functions to represent and solve scientific and engineering problems.
HS-P6.1:Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables.
HS-P6.4:Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.
HS-P8.2:Compare, integrate and evaluate sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a scientific question or solve a problem.