This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.

Initial Publication Date: June 11, 2008

Correlating geologic time with the archaeological record using ice core climate data

This activity was developed during the Teaching Climate Change Using Ice Core Data workshop, held in June 2008.
Contributors: Christopher Hill, Sherri Baker-Littman, Kevin Nolan, Ester Sztein

Course level: Introductory

Description of the activity:

This activity is divided into several discrete learning modules.

Module 1: Overview on what constitutes climate, the record of climate variability (including a discussion of the concept of time scales).

Module 2: Use of the record of ice core temperature change at three different time scales: down to 800,000 years ago, 20,000 years ago, and the last 1,000 years. In this module, students use a variety of resources to find events in the geological and archaeological records that occur within those time scales. This module provides students with experience using various resources such as internet, publications, and interviews/communication with scientists- and the proper citation of those resources.

Module 3: Class group project for compilation and critical evaluation of the information collected by the students. This also provides an opportunity for the instructor's assessment of the students' contributions.

Module 4: Written assignment, where the students review the aggregated data collected by the group and then critically think about correlation/causality based on geological, environmental and archaeological records.

Module 5: Lecture overview on the learning that took place during the complete activity by discussing the ideas that were brought forth by individual students.

Learning goals or outcomes

Content: understanding the concept of time scales, archaeological and geological events, and evidence. Use of evidence in the support of their ideas.

Skills: critical thinking, working with others, using information resources, writing, constructing a timeline


Different modules have different assessment modalities such as group participation, self-assessment, or evidence of appropriate resource use. The instructor will create a rubric to assist in assessment of the activities (such as a check list including specific learning outcomes such as appreciation of time or the diversity of proxies to examine climate).