Summative Assessment: Creating a model
These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards as detailed below. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more.
OverviewIn this assessment, students decide on a system to model, then develop a model in order to address a question of interest and test hypotheses. They communicate their results in the form of an opinion editorial to the broader community.
Science and Engineering Practices
Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking: Use mathematical, computational, and/or algorithmic representations of phenomena or design solutions to describe and/or support claims and/or explanations. HS-P5.2:
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations: Plan an investigation or test a design individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence as part of building and revising models, supporting explanations for phenomena, or testing solutions to problems. Consider possible confounding variables or effects and evaluate the investigation’s design to ensure variables are controlled. HS-P3.1:
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations: Make directional hypotheses that specify what happens to a dependent variable when an independent variable is manipulated. HS-P3.5:
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information: Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (i.e., orally, graphically, textually, mathematically). HS-P8.5:
Developing and Using Models: Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system HS-P2.3:
Developing and Using Models: Develop and/or use a model (including mathematical and computational) to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems. HS-P2.6:
Asking Questions and Defining Problems: Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the school laboratory, research facilities, or field (e.g., outdoor environment) with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on a model or theory. HS-P1.6:
Cross Cutting Concepts
Systems and System Models: When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models. HS-C4.2:
Systems and System Models: Systems can be designed to do specific tasks. HS-C4.1:
Systems and System Models: Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models. HS-C4.4:
Systems and System Models: Models (e.g., physical, mathematical, computer models) can be used to simulate systems and interactions—including energy, matter, and information flows—within and between systems at different scales. HS-C4.3:
Disciplinary Core Ideas
Earth Materials and Systems: Earth’s systems, being dynamic and interacting, cause feedback effects that can increase or decrease the original changes. HS-ESS2.A1:
The summative assessment for this course requires students to construct, utilize, and critique a numerical model of a climate-related Earth system of their choosing. The project involves four pieces: creating a model (STELLA file), making an ~15 minute in-class presentation about the project, writing a 12–15-page paper, and writing a short op-ed article.
- Students will be able to create a model of a dynamic earth system.
- Students will be able to use a model to make a predictive hypothesis and then test that hypothesis through experimentation.
- Students will be able to critique and make judgments about the uses and limitations of models.
- Students will be able to explain the main components, feedbacks, and forcings of the global climate system, including the role of humans as one of the principal forcings.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Teaching Notes and Tips
In the description of the assessment (above), we make some suggestions about systems students might model if they are having trouble coming up with their own ideas. These include:
- Eutrophication of a lake or estuary
- Stream flow/hydrographs
- Biocontrol of invasive species
- The carbon cycle (or a subset of the carbon cycle) and human impacts on it
Again, it is important to note that students do not have to model every aspect of these (or any) systems to be successful. They need to include enough detail to address the hypothesis that they are testing. For example, if a student's hypothesis is that decreased land clearing for agriculture is a more effective way to reduce carbon emissions than decreased driving, they probably do not need a fully functioning model of the ocean carbon cycle.
This assessment addresses the course goals as well as the InTeGrate guiding principles. It addresses the grand problem of climate change and human impacts on the environment, which are inherently interdisciplinary problems. It requires students to develop and apply geoscientific methods, and to use credible geoscience data in the construction and/or critique of the model. Finally, the focus on modeling climate-related systems requires students to incorporate systems thinking.
References and Resources
Files used in this assessment: