InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Exploring Geoscience Methods > Unit 2: Climate Change, After the Storm
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Unit 2: Climate Change, After the Storm

Jeff Thomas, Central Connecticut State University (thomasjed@ccsu.edu) on module writing team with Scott Linneman and Jim Ebert.

Summary

The goal of Unit 2 is for students to apply what they learned about the methods of geoscience to complete an authentic and data-rich, lab-based activity to address the following problem: "To what extent should we build or rebuild coastal communities?" Students collect, organize, and analyze spatial and temporal data (e.g., changes in sea level, ice sheet coverage, and intensity of tropical cyclone data) and visualizations (temperature forecast models under various CO2 emissions scenarios). Students also read a scientific summary report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Using these sources, students identify relationships from the multiple converging lines of evidence to write an evidenced-based position paper to respond to the above problem.

Learning Goals

By the end of Unit 2, pre-service teachers will be able to:

  • Describe climate change and its impact on the human-built systems such as coastal communities (Activity 2.1).
  • Collect, organize, and analyze multiple lines of geoscience data (spatial and temporal) and describe the relationships and feedback loops among the data sets (Activity 2.2).
  • Construct a concept map/model to illustrate systems thinking (e.g. feedback loops) by linking multiple lines of evidence of the impact of climate-related changes on coastal communities (Activity 2.2).
  • Construct an evidence-based position paper to address the risks that climate change poses to coastal communities (Activity 2.3).

Context for Use

Unit 2 is similar to a lab activity that might be given to a high school science class or an introductory college-level geoscience course. The science content from this unit targets those students who have a limited understanding of climate change, Thus, there is no need to introduce science content prior to implementing this unit. The context of Unit 2 incorporates societal issues (e.g., costs of rebuilding coastal communities) to engage students in learning about climate change. This unit is most effective when students work in groups of two to three. Computers should be available for students so they can collect, organize, and analyze online climate data. This page provides an overview of the activity, and student handouts are available and can be modified to address individual instructor needs.

Unit 2 also aligns with the K–12 Framework for Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as indicated in the table below. Please click on the image to enlarge.

In addition, Unit 2 also aligns with the following high school Common Core of State Standards (CCSS) for Reading and Writing in Science and Technical subjects, as indicated in the table below. Please click on the image to enlarge.


Description and Teaching Materials

Materials

Students should have the following: After the Storm handout (student directions) (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 60kB Oct16 14) and Tables 1, 2 and 3 (student work) (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 23kB Aug27 14). Alternatively, the After the Storm handout has an electronic student page. Other materials needed include: computers and Internet access (student research), audiovisual projector (show videos, etc.), large poster paper (for group work), and loose-leaf paper (for note-taking).

Activity 2 Outline (each part has its own page):

Activity 2.1: The Issue
The aim for Activity 2.1 is to "hook" students by introducing them to the potential impacts of climate change on human-built systems (e.g. the impact of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes on coastal communities). Students watch a high-impact video, analyze climate change data sets, and read a compelling op-ed column.

Activity 2.2: Issue Investigation
For this activity, students use geoscience methods and systems thinking in a data-rich, interdisciplinary exploration of the human impacts of global climate change. They analyze spatial and temporal data of sea level, ice sheet extent, and hurricane intensity; and explore visualizations of future climate projections and sea level rise to identify relationships among the data. In groups, students create a concept map to depict their understandings.

Activity 2.3: Constructing the Argument
During the last activity of Unit 2, students write an evidence-based position paper to respond to the problem: "To what extent should we build or rebuild coastal communities?"

Teaching Notes and Tips

Below are general teaching notes and tips for Unit 2. A more detailed description of the Teaching Notes and Tips is located in activity pages for 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3.

  • Students can complete this individually, if additional time is given.
  • This activity, in part, could be adapted for use in an online or hybrid setting.

Assessment

Below is a summary of the assessments for Activity 2. A more detailed description of the assessments is located in activity pages for 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3.

Formative Assessments:
Activity 2.1: OWL Chart and Muddiest Point
Activity 2.2: Concept Map/Model and "I used to think, but now I know"
Activity 2.3: Position Paper

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These materials are part of a collection of classroom-tested modules and courses developed by InTeGrate. The materials engage students in understanding the earth system as it intertwines with key societal issues. The collection is freely available and ready to be adapted by undergraduate educators across a range of courses including: general education or majors courses in Earth-focused disciplines such as geoscience or environmental science, social science, engineering, and other sciences, as well as courses for interdisciplinary programs.
Explore the Collection »