Using Project EDDIE modules in Climate and the Earth System

Alessandro Zanazzi, Utah Valley University

About this Course

Climate and the Earth System

Lecture Course

Upper Level Undergraduate


students in the course


EDDIE Module(s) Adopted and/or Adapted

Paleoclimate and Ocean Biogeochemistry module

The module was used in the context of my undergraduate upper-division course titled "Climate and the Earth System.". This is essentially a course in Earth System science with an emphasis on the climate system. I have been teaching this course for several years using a very structured approach: every class meeting starts with a short (20-25 minute) lecture followed by an in-class activity. For the in-class activities, I have been using active learning techniques such as jigsaws, gallery walks, and think-pair-shares. 
This Project Eddie module gave me the opportunity to teach skills and topics that were not taught in previous units. For examples, in this module students learn to calculate and interpret coefficients of correlation and p-values. In addition, I liked this module because it allowed students to became familiar with developing hypotheses about complex connections that are present in the climate and Earth systems (e.g., connections between dust, productivity, sediment anoxia, and global temperature and ice volume).

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

Relationship of EDDIE Module(s) to my Course

This course has a focus on the connections and interdependency of the components or "spheres" of the Earth. In addition, one of the major goals of the course is to improve the quantitative skills of the students. This module fit into my course perfectly. The module was implemented at the end of the semester when students were already familiar with basic topics in oceanography (variations in the water column, surface and deep-water circulation, upwelling and downwelling, productivity, etc.), geochemistry (stable isotopes), and paleoclimatology (Milankovitch cycles, time scales of climate change, etc.). The literature associated with the module (i.e., the papers of Loveley et al, 2017 and of Martinez-Garcia et al, 2014) was posted on CANVAS and students were asked to read the papers before the implementation of the module.

Teaching Details

I used the entire module in two 75-minute class sessions. During the first class, I gave a short (~20-minute) lecture. For this lecture, I slightly modified the ppt slides that came with the module. This class was followed by a first activity where students worked independently to observe maps of modern macronutrient (N and P) concentrations in the oceans, of Redfield ratios, and of chlorophyll. Subsequently, students were asked to work with two datasets of 232Th used as a proxy for windblown continental dust. The dataset of Loveley et al (2017) was collected from a sediment core from the Equatorial Pacific whereas the dataset of Martinez-Garcia et al (2014) was from the Southern Ocean. In the second activity, students worked first independently to explore the correlation between dust and productivity using alkenone and excess Barium datasets from the same papers cited above. Subsequently, they worked in groups and used additional datasets from Lisiecki and Raymo (2005), Luthi et al (2008), and Martinez-Garcia et al (2009) to explore global connections between dust, productivity, sediment anoxia, deep ocean temperature, atmospheric pCO2, and ice volume at glacial-interglacial timescales.

Adaption Materials

24_Paleoclimate and Ocean Biogeochemistry (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 55.2MB Jul27 23)

In Class Activity_24 (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 35kB Jul27 23)

In Class Activity_25 (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 32kB Jul27 23)

How did the activity go?

At the end of the module, I gave a survey to the students. Although the sample size was small (n=5), the data suggests that the students really liked the module. I think overall it went well. Students appreciated the opportunity to work with real data, to explore the correlations between different datasets, and to learn data analysis skills. I did not need to make any adjustment in real time. Students, however, did not have enough time to complete the second activity in the 75-minute class time. They had to finish the activity at home. I think the time required for this module that is mentioned on the website is underestimated.

In the survey, the students mentioned that they learned a lot about how we approach analyzing paleoclimate data and about the connections between the various Earth systems. They also mentioned that the module helped develop their critical thinking skills.

They struggled with understanding what each proxy indicates, with data analysis tools and terms, with the geologic time scale, and with naming different areas of the oceans.

Future Use

This instructor story and adaption materials were developed during a Project EDDIE Faculty Mentoring Network in partnership with QUBES in the spring of 2023.

Project EDDIE Faculty Mentoring Network logo

I think this module is an excellent resource for any course in paleoclimatology, oceanography, Earth System science, and geochemistry. It can be adapted to be used at any level from lower-division undergraduate to perhaps even graduate level. I would suggest giving students more background about the proxies and to increase the length of time required to complete the module.