Activity 2.1: The Issue
Activity 2.1 motivates and engages students through the issue of climate change in a socioscientific context. This activity first assesses students' prior knowledge and then familiarizes students with a data-rich, interdisciplinary exploration of the human impacts of global climate change by watching a video about climate change, analyzing CO2 and temperature data, and critically reading an editorial about Hurricane Sandy.
By the end of this activity, pre-service teachers will be able to:
- Describe climate change and its impact on the human-built systems such as coastal communities.
Context for Use
There is no need to introduce science content prior to implementing this activity. Class size should be limited to 24 students. Students can work individually or in small groups. This page provides an overview of the activity, and two student handouts are available and can be modified.
Description and Teaching Materials
Provide students with the After the Storm handout (student directions) (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 60kB Oct16 14) or the electronic version of the student page. Provide students with Table 1: The Issue from the Tables 1, 2, and 3 (student work) (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 23kB Aug27 14).
NOTE: If you print Table 1, it may need to be expanded so that students have more room to record their responses. Another suggestion is to use Google Docs. Students then can share and edit the document with all group members.
Other materials for Activity 2.1 include an audiovisual projector for the following:
- Environmental Protection Agency (Climate Change Indicators in the United States) (Acrobat (PDF) 275kB Aug23 17)
- Rising Sea Levels
- Earth System Research Laboratory (Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide)
Interpret Air Temperature and CO2 Data (20 min)First, display (e.g. a projector) the temperature and CO2 data using the links below. For each data set, have students record and analyze the air temperature and CO2 data in the "observed" row of Table 1: The Issue (OWL chart). The instructor should guide what data sets students record and analyze in Table 1. In the second row of the OWL chart, have students record what they "wondered" regarding both data sets. If students do not elicit a possible correlation between the data sets, then it is recommended that the instructor prompt them to do so.
- Environmental Protection Agency: Climate Change Indicators in the United States (Acrobat (PDF) 275kB Aug23 17): Use figures 1, 2, and 3.
- Earth System Research Laboratory: Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide: Examine all tabs.
Watch the Video: Rising Sea Levels (20 min)
Next, have students watch Rising Sea Levels from the NBC Learn series Changing Planet. This engaging and dramatic 6-minute video highlights the effects of climate change on coastal communities. As students watch the video, have them record what they "observed" and "wondered" in the first column of Table 1: The Issue (OWL chart). Then, discuss their responses with the class.
Read the Editorial: After Sandy, Why we Can't Keep Rebuilding on the Water's Edge (20 min)
Finally, give students a hard copy of a short editorial from Time magazine titled: After Sandy: Why We Can't Keep Rebuilding on the Water's Edge, by Brian Walsh. You may also choose other motivating articles (see resources below) for students to read. As they read the article, have them complete the third column of Table 1: The Issue (OWL chart). Again, students record what they "observed" and "wondered" about. Then, students discuss their responses with the class.
Activity 2.1 Formative Assessment (10 min)
To conclude, have students record what they learned from the video, the article, and the data in the in the second to last row of Table 1. Discuss their responses with the class.
Note: The entire OWL chart is really one large formative assessment, not just the last row. However, this row will provide the instructor with information about students' overall knowledge and understanding of the topic before they conduct their research and help the instructor identify possible student misconceptions.
In addition, have students describe what they feel is their "muddiest point" about the data (e.g., Does an increase in global CO2 concentration increase global air temperature?). This will provide the instructor with evidence of what students do and do not understand.
Teaching Notes and Tips
The following modifications can save in-class instructional time:
Have students complete the first row of Table 1 as well as the "observed" and "wondered" rows of Table 1 independently outside of class. Then, review students' responses in class. It is suggested to complete the "Learned" row of Table 1 and the muddiest point in class. This adjustment could save 40 minutes of class time.
The two formative assessments for this activity are the "OWL chart" and the "muddiest point" activity. Both assessments are from Science Formative Assessments by Page Keeley (see resources).
The OWL chart (Observed, Wondered, Learned) provides an opportunity for students to become engaged with the climate change issue. It is a metacognitive exercise that requires students to think about what they already know (first two rows of Table 1). The OWL chart provides a mechanism for self-assessment and reflection at the end of the lesson when students are asked what they learned (the last row from Table 1). The three phases of the OWL exercise help students see the connection between what they already know, what they would like to find out, and what they learned as a result.
The muddiest point provides a metacognitive opportunity for students to think about their own learning and what is difficult or easy for them to understand. This strategy is very effective when students are presented with new information or asked to discuss complicated issues such as global climate change.
References and Resources
Environmental Protection Agency: Environmental Protection Agency: Climate Change Indicators in the United States (Acrobat (PDF) 275kB Aug23 17)
NBC Learn: Rising Sea Levels
Earth Systems Research Laboratory: Earth System Research Laboratory (Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide)
Editorial Article from Time magazine:After Sandy: Why We Can't Keep Rebuilding on the Water's Edge, by Brian Walsh.
Keeley, P. 2008. Science Formative Assessments: 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction, and Learning. NSTA Press. Washington DC.
Alternative Articles (Human Impacts of Climate Change)
- America's coastal denial
- Rebuilding the coastline, but at what cost?
- After Big Storm: Rebuild or No?
- Checklist to rebuild smarter, stronger and safer after Sandy
- Rebuilding after Sandy, but with costly new rules
- Islanders without an Island: What Will Become of Tuvalu's Climate Refugees?
- Planning for Sea Level Rise before and after a Coastal Disaster