# Penguinpocalypse climate modeling practice

Initial Publication Date: September 18, 2020 | Reviewed: April 13, 2021

## Summary

This is a programming exercise that walks students through developing a very small model before we start

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## Learning Goals

Students will gain practice with MATLAB and the basics of model development from this activity.

## Context for Use

This activity is designed as the second step in an introduction to MATLAB for upper-level undergraduate students who will be using it in a series of climate modeling projects over the course of the term. In this activity, students will get practice with indexing, loops, conditional logic, masks, plotting, and breaking a larger programming challenge into smaller pieces.

It is a lab activity, expected to take 1-3 hours. Students with some programming background will complete it fairly quickly, and may add additional features to their penguin-apocalypse models. Students without any programming experience (except the initial tutorials) will need additional help and encouragement along the way, but will gain a lot of confidence when they can watch their penguin maps update.
Students will need to be pointed to the ncread function to access the land mask.

## Description and Teaching Materials

In this upper-level lab activity, students follow the instructions in the pdf handout to develop a model of a penguin-covered ocean surface where penguins flip belly up or down based on the ones around them. It is a lighthearted introduction to model development and programming basics.

A MATLAB script for part 1.3 (the final step) is provided for guidance.

Student instructions for Penguin-pocalypse model assignment (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 11kB Sep18 20)
Reference MATLAB script (Matlab File 2kB Sep18 20)

## Teaching Notes and Tips

Students who are new to programming and Matlab will ask a lot of questions. I have found it important for this lab to encourage them to try something and to work with their peers in order to keep students moving forward.

## Assessment

If students have a working, commented script that produces the penguin flipping outcomes, they will have succeeded in getting practice with model development in MATLAB.