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Byrd Polar Research Center Climate Model Simulation

Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University

This set of animations and interactive simulations from the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University helps students develop an understanding of models used to understand the Earth System. Students consider the types of data that need to be included in a climate model, looking at inputs and outputs as well as variables, such as land surface, and how to measure changes of different parts of Earth's surface over time.

The animations of figures in the simulation seem to target middle school audiences, but the content may be more relevant to high school and undergraduate students.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

World's climate definition
About Teaching Principle 2
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Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
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Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
About Teaching Principle 5
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Climate models are robust enough to be used for guiding decision and actions as response to climate change
About Teaching Principle 5
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Teachers should be aware that the content is at the high school and undergraduate level but the presentation design is more appropriate for middle school.
  • Have students ignore the Hurricane Ike section.
  • Teachers can choose content from the right-hand menu that meets their teaching needs.
  • The spoken text is displayed as captions at the bottom of visualization.
  • Visualization can be used as a collection or series of lessons on systems and models

About the Science

  • This interactive simulation/animation on Earth system science and climate models is produced by the Byrd Polar Research Center and the Technology Enhanced Learning and Research Center at Ohio State University.
  • The use of analogies, such as bathtubs to convey the idea of hydrologic and atmospheric reservoirs, and other easy-to-understand concepts make this a strong introduction to modeling in general and climate models in particular.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Comprehensive introduction to the concept of models in general and to climate models in particular. Some of the slides would be suitable for young pupils or the general public, while on others complex physical fornulas are introduced and are targeted at more advanced students.

About the Pedagogy

  • Accessible to many different audiences.
  • This entire interactive simulation could potentially be used as a mini course for undergraduates on the use of models to understand environmental systems.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Most of the sections of the resource can be used independently with ease.
  • The content is provided through a computer-generated animated character in a classroom setting. The character "lectures" through a series of learning units that include interactive activities to aid a learner in developing an understanding of Earth systems and climate models.
  • The final section, focusing on changing weather dynamics during Hurricane Ike, has some inconsistencies that may confuse some learners and is the least relevant part of the resource for understanding climate models.

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