Climate Discovery

Lisa Gardiner


Climate Discovery is a series of three courses offered via NCAR Online Education for professional development of middle and high school science educators.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Small-group seminar

Institution Type:

Course Context:

Each course is 6-7 weeks in length. The three courses were not developed as a sequence, so participants can take them in any order. Teachers and other educators taking these courses can receive graduate credits from the Colorado School of Mines. These courses attract teachers from all over the country.

Course Content:

Course content includes readings, interactives, and videos about climate and the Earth system, the impacts of climate and global change, and adaptation and mitigation strategies. Additionally, each course requires participants to test classroom activities on their own or with their students and then discuss their experience in online forums. Other forums allow participants to discuss the week's topics.

Course Goals:

1. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of climate science.
2. They will become familiar with hands-on activities appropriate for middle and high school students that help foster understanding of climate science.
3. They will be better able to bring climate science into their classroom.

Course Features:

By combining content readings with hands-on activities and discussion, participants are able to build content knowledge while also considering how they will implement this in their teaching.

Course Philosophy:

Teaching about climate science inevitably brings up the "So, what do we do?" questions. We have some course content about mitigation and are in the process of building more resources energy education resources too which will be freely available online in October.


Graded discussion forums combined with graded quizzes that assess content understanding.


References and Notes:

The Rough Guide to Climate, by Bob Henson and Field Notes from a Catastrophe, by Elizabeth Kolbert
Most of the course readings have been written by those of us who developed these courses. We relied heavily on the 2007 IPCC Forth Assessment Report when writing course content about future climate predictions, impacts, adaptation, and mitigation strategies.