InTeGrate Modules and Courses >Earth's Thermostat
 Earth-focused Modules and Courses for the Undergraduate Classroom
showLearn More
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 materials are free 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 »
How to Use »

New to InTeGrate?

Learn how to incorporate these teaching materials into your class.

  • Find out what's included with each module
  • Learn how it can be adapted to work in your classroom
  • See how your peers at hundreds of colleges and university across the country have used these materials to engage their students

How To Use InTeGrate Materials »
show Download
The instructor material for this module are available for offline viewing below. Downloadable versions of the student materials are available from this location on the student materials pages. Learn more about using the different versions of InTeGrate materials »

Download a PDF of all web pages for the instructor's materials

Download a zip file that includes all the web pages and downloadable files from the instructor's materials

This material was developed and reviewed through the InTeGrate curricular materials development process. This rigorous, structured process includes:

  • team-based development to ensure materials are appropriate across multiple educational settings.
  • multiple iterative reviews and feedback cycles through the course of material development with input to the authoring team from both project editors and an external assessment team.
  • real in-class testing of materials in at least 3 institutions with external review of student assessment data.
  • multiple reviews to ensure the materials meet the InTeGrate materials rubric which codifies best practices in curricular development, student assessment and pedagogic techniques.
  • review by external experts for accuracy of the science content.


This page first made public: Nov 18, 2016

Summary

Climate change is one of the most critical issues facing society today. The 2013 IPCC report states that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, yet the the underlying solar, atmospheric, cryospheric, and oceanic processes governing Earth's climate remain poorly understood by the public at large. Our module seeks to bridge this gap in knowledge by helping students understand Earth's energy balance and climate, its sensitivity to changes in its drivers, and how it interacts with Earth's other systems with a data- and model-driven approach.

Strengths of the Module

  • Students work with with real geoscience data to investigate changes in Earth's climate and the factors affecting Earth's energy balance.
  • Students build a conceptual model to predict how Earth's climate would respond to a catastrophic volcanic eruption in the module capstone.
  • Students interpret and create graphs and maps of key climate variables to evaluate patterns, trends, and physical processes.
  • Students become truly engaged in group work, looking at real data, and developing stories/explanations of what the data suggest.
  • The interactive engagement encouraged by these activities make them exciting learning experiences for both students and instructor.
NGSS Logo Very Small

These materials have been reviewed for their alignment with the Next Generation Science Standards. At the top of each page, you can click on the NGSS logo to see the specific connections. Visit InTeGrate and the NGSS to learn more about the process of alignment and how to use InTeGrate materials to implement the NGSS.

NGSS in this Module

This module includes six units and an optional activity in which students use systems and systems models to develop concepts about Earth's energy balance and how it influences climate systems. Students analyze and interpret authentic data from a variety of sources to develop concept digrams, infer cause and effect, and communicate information. A final capstone project tasks students with designing a conceptual model that estimates the climatic and societal implications of a future, large scale volcanic eruption.

A great fit for courses in:

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • Global Change
  • Meteorology
  • Physical Geography
  • Sustainability Science

This module is designed for introductory or intermediate students who are potential earth science majors, undecided, or general education students at a variety of university-level institutions. These materials have been used as a two-week module in geoscience and and atmospheric science courses. However, any of the activities could be used independently. Activities can be used in class or lab, as homework, or online with small or large classes. Most of the activities demonstrate and give students experience working with real data. Recent examples are used, and many links to data sources are given so future instructors can adapt the materials with the latest examples. Materials are designed with particular emphasis on societal relevance.

Supported community developed, nationally recognized Earth Science Literacy Principles:

  • Earth Science Literacy Big Idea 1: Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet.
  • Earth Science Literacy Big Idea 3: Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life.
  • Earth Science Literacy Big Idea 4 and Atmospheric principle 4: Earth is continuously changing.
  • Earth Science Literacy Big Idea 5: Earth is the water planet.
  • Earth Science Literacy Big Idea 9: Humans significantly alter Earth when they look at changing risks as population and infrastructure increase.

Supported community developed, nationally recognized Climate Science Literacy Essential Principles:

  • Climate Science Literacy Essential Principle 1: The Sun is the primary source of energy for Earth's climate system.
  • Climate Science Literacy Essential Principle 2: Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system.
  • Climate Science Literacy Essential Principle 3: Life on Earth depends on, is shaped by, and affects climate.
  • Climate Science Literacy Essential Principle 4: Climate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes.
  • Climate Science Literacy Essential Principle 5: Our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling.
  • Climate Science Literacy Essential Principle 6: Human activities are impacting the climate system.
  • Climate Science Literacy Essential Principle 7: Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives.

Addressed community developed, nationally recognized Atmospheric Science Literacy Principles:

  • Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 1: Earth has a thin atmosphere that sustains life.
  • Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 2: Energy from the Sun drives atmospheric processes.
  • Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 3: Atmospheric circulation transports matter and energy.
  • Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 4: Earth's atmosphere changes over time and space, giving rise to weather.
  • Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 5: Earth's atmosphere continually interacts with other components of the Earth system.
  • Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 6: We seek to understand the past, present, and future behavior of Earth's atmosphere through scientific observation and reasoning.
  • Atmospheric Science Literacy Principle 7: Earth's atmosphere and humans are inextricably linked.


Instructor Stories: How this module was adapted
for use at several institutions »



      Next Page »

Already used some of these materials in a course?
Let us know and join the discussion »

Considering using these materials with your students?
Get pointers and learn about how it's working for your peers in their classrooms »

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 »