Using the Project EDDIE Ocean Biogeochemistry and Paleoclimate Module in The Earth's Climate System

Allison Jacobel, Brown University

About this Course

The Earth's Climate System

Laboratory Course

Introductory Undergraduate

Majors and Non-majors

students in the course

students in the section

EDDIE Module Developed

The Ocean Biogeochemistry and Paleoclimate module guided students in an introductory climate science course through activities that enabled them to answer the question "How does ocean primary productivity influence global climate." Along the way, they gained skills in plotting and interpreting time series data, and in examining the relationships between datasets using linear regression.

Jump to: Course Context | Teaching Details | Student Outcomes

Relationship of EDDIE Module(s) to my Course

This module was piloted during the three-hour lab section of an introductory course on the climate system. The module took place during week 6 of the course (15-week semesters) and occurred after students had already gained some experience working with scatter plots and time series data as part of a lab activity that focused on ENSO-related climate variability. The students had some familiarity with glacial-interglacial climate cycles prior to the lab (for example, from discussing the Antarctic CO2 records). Students were not asked to do any additional preparatory work for the lab, although we did spend ~20 minutes doing a refresher on course topics using the module PowerPoint before students started the activity.

Teaching Details

What key suggestions would you give to a colleague before they used the activity in their teaching?
The module requires that students have some familiarity with (or additional introduction) to the concept of time in climate records and some knowledge of the timescale of glacial-interglacial climate variability. The module would therefore be appropriate for an introductory oceanography course (in terms of content and skill level) but would require some additional context to be provided to the students by the instructor.

Roughly 50% of students finished the lab during the three-hour lab period. I would recommend that students be made aware that the final slide in the module PowerPoint has all of the figures they will need to finish Activity C independently. This will allow students to successfully complete the module. However, it may also be worthwhile have a more integrative discussion of students' results at the beginning of the next lab period, and to allow sufficient time for the conclusions that are discussed to be incorporated into the materials students submit for assessment.

How did you address challenges in teaching with the module?
As the first lab section was working through the module, we realized that they were familiar with the concept of climate cycles, but did not yet have an intuitive feeling for the timing of the cycles and needed some reminders about the relevant timescales of change (e.g.: When was the Last Glacial Maximum? What is the (approximate) period between successive interglacial/glacial periods?). To remedy this, during the introduction for the second lab session, we spent more time discussing the record of atmospheric CO2 from Antarctic ice cores and this seemed to resolve much of the students' uncertainty.

Student Outcomes

How did the module influence students' quantitative reasoning? 
Students demonstrated good progress in their thinking about how to examine and relate quantitative datasets. Specifically, they made insightful suggestions about how to test relationships between datasets, both from a statistical standpoint (cross correlations) and from the perspective of thinking about additional experiments to test causality.

How did the module influence students' ability to work with data?
93% of students who completed the post-module survey felt that the module increased their confidence with making scatter plots, interpreting linear correlations, and examining paleoclimate data.