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This student-led inquiry explores the element carbon as a building block of matter, a source of energy and a key culprit in greenhouse gas production and climate change. Following an introduction to these key themes, students generate essential questions and proceed through nine lessons and a range of engaging activities to find answers.
Students will conduct hands-on investigations, participate in simulations, carry out a field investigation, conduct a survey, view and respond to video presentations, carry out research using a variety of sources, share information and ideas and create a media project to inform a community audience. The underlying goal is to have students accurately informed on climate issues relating to carbon and feeling empowered to make a difference.
Along the way specific attention is paid to a number of core topics and concepts including, carbon as building block of matter, the structure of carbon compounds, the carbon cycle, energy transfer, greenhouse gases, climate change and our ecological footprint.
While individual lessons and activities can be used effectively to address specific science outcomes (grades 5 and 6) finding time to complete the entire unit is recommended in order to achieve the goal of well-informed students regarding the importance of carbon in their environment and its role in climate change. Here are some optional links to 'footprint' calculators' required in Lesson 5 - Greenhouse Gas and Ecological footprint
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives||Very Good|
In this inquiry students explore scientific principles, models and data. They raise and then investigate questions. They reach conclusions based on observation and research with the goal of understanding the relationship between energy use, greenhouse gases and climate change. Differing points of view are less applicable to this approach.
|Consideration of Alternative Perspectives: |
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions||Satisfactory|
The ecological footprint and media analysis activities provide significant opportunities to address the environmental, social and economic dimensions of the relationship among carbon, energy and climate change.
|Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions: |
Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.
|Respects Complexity||Very Good|
This is a strength of the resource.
|Respects Complexity: |
The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.
|Acting on Learning||Good|
After investigating the connection between energy use, CO2 emissions and climate change, students work cooperatively to create a multi-media campaign based on their analysis that will educate a wider audience with the goal of bringing about positive change. This project is well supported by the resource.
|Acting on Learning: |
Learning moves from understanding issues to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community, or for the planet
|Values Education||Very Good|
Students are required to discuss and express both verbally (peer discussion) and in writing (literacy projects) their feelings about, and understanding of, what they are learning and experiencing throughout the unit.
|Values Education: |
Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans||Poor/Not considered|
Some attention is paid to the plight of poorer countries in the ecological footprint exercise. This activity certainly provides opportunity to discuss equity and promote empathy.
|Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).|
|Personal Affinity with Earth||Good|
Lesson 5 and its ecological footprint activity in particular will foster stewardship and an appreciation for the natural world
|Personal Affinity with Earth: |
Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.
|Locally-Focused Learning||Very Good|
Lesson 4 features a field trip to a local forest during which students measure carbon capture and release first-hand. Other hands-on activities in this lesson and others, do a good job in connecting students to carbon and its importance in their everyday world. Students also take action to bring an important message about what they have learned into their community.
|Locally-Focused Learning: |
Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community.
|Past, Present & Future||Very Good|
The lessons in total do a good job of addressing this criterion.
|Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.|
|Open-Ended Instruction||Very Good|
The resource adopts and supports an inquiry model. Students investigate, analyze and come to their own conclusions. The teacher's role is clearly defined as that of a facilitator.
Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.
The lesson is primarily focused on science outcomes. There are activities that connect to outcomes in mathematics and social studies and each lesson includes suggestions and / or activities to address literacy.
|Integrated Learning: |
Learning brings together content and skills from more than one subject area
|Inquiry Learning||Very Good|
The resource has an inquiry focus. Early on, students must develop essential questions to investigate concerning carbon as a chemical component, carbon as a source of electricity and the consequences that come from using carbon to produce energy. These investigations are supported through the activities.
|Inquiry Learning: |
Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.
A wide range of activity types (video instruction, demonstration, hands-on learning, simulation, game formats, experimentation/hypothesis testing, peer discussion, research & analysis, journaling) will address the needs of different learning styles. Some attention has been paid to more gifted learners in Lesson 3.
|Differentiated Instruction: |
Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.
There are a number of hands-on investigations (science labs, field work, survey research) sprinkled throughout the resource.
|Experiential Learning: |
Authentic learning experiences are provided
|Cooperative Learning: |
Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
|Assessment & Evaluation||Good|
Although rubrics are not included, lessons offer specific suggestions for both formative and summative evaluation.
|Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.|
Some of the student to student teaching is incidental. The multi-media action in Lesson 6 places responsibility for teaching a community audience, directly on the students. In Lesson 7 each student shares their "essential question" and the results of their inquiry with their classmates.
|Peer Teaching: |
Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
Lesson 5 requires students analyze and graph experimental data from actual studies in an effort to demonstrate rising CO2 levels over time. Elements of the ecological footprint activity also rely on actual data.
|Case Studies: |
Relevant case studies are included. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore concepts in an authentic context.
|Locus of Control||Very Good|
The resource emphasizes and supports student-driven investigation. The teacher's role is clearly defined as that of facilitator.
|Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.|