Using the Project EDDIE Climate Change Module in Geology 1: Earth's Interior

Sarah Cadieux, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

About this Course

Geology 1: Earth's Interior

Lecture and Lab

Introductory Undergraduate

Majors and Non-Majors

students in the lecture course

students in each lab section

EDDIE Module(s) Adopted and/or Adapted

Climate Change Module

Students analyze current and past temperature and CO2 data to relate current climate change to climate of the past 450,000 years. This adaptation was designed to be an in-class activity (<2 hours) for 120 students. All the data from the original module was used, but instead of having students download the data and produce the graphs, all graphs were produced for them. Students focused on identifying trends in data, calculating rates of change, and comparing data. Additionally, a pre-class assignment was designed to introduce students to paleoclimate data.

Jump to: Course Context | Teaching Details | How It Went | Future Use

Relationship of EDDIE Module(s) to my Course

This course is focused on physical geology (rocks, tectonics), and doesn't typically include a section on climate change. However, as this may be the only geology course many students make take, I wanted to add in a class on climate change. Particularly, I wanted students to understand where climate data comes from, and how interpretations about climate change are made.

Teaching Details

Did you use the entire EDDIE modules as presented? If not, which components did you use?
All the data from the module was used, but the graphs were produced for the students, as opposed to them making them.

What did you change about the module and why?
For this adaptation, I planned to do it during lecture (~2 hours) with 120 students. For that reason, I produced the graphs for the students and had them analyze and interpret the graphs.

What was the prep like?
I had previously done this module as a lab, so was familiar with the data and questions. For this adaption, I created a pre-class assignment and made the graphs. Prep took 2-3 hours since I had previously done the activity. Most of the time went into making a pre-class assignment and making figures.

How did the activity go?

What do you think students took away from the activity?
Due to a snow day, the activity wasn't able to be implemented. I did show students the graphs on the overhead briefly, with the focus of looking at how CO2 concentrations over the past 450,000 years had been lower than they are now. The pre-class assignment was useful to introduce students to isotopes as temperature proxies. When I introduce this in class students struggle with it, but reading on their own time they did well on the pre-class questions.

Where did students struggle?
Previously when I did the activity as written, students struggled with utilizing excel. My hope is by removing that element, the objectives will be able to be met without students getting bogged down by excel. Previously I found that students struggle with understanding how isotopes record temperature changes. By introducing this as a pre-class reading, students seemed to understand how the system worked better than when I introduce it without previous background.

Future Use

This instructor story and adaption materials were developed during a Project EDDIE Faculty Mentoring Network in partnership with QUBES in the fall of 2019.


Project EDDIE Faculty Mentoring Network logo

I would like to add in a part to show where the data is from. Perhaps there could be a pre-class assignment where students download one set of data and come to class with one figure made, and then the rest are made for them.