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Getting to the Core

The Link Between Temperature and Carbon Dioxide

Secondary

Description

This lesson gives students first-hand experience in analyzing the link between atmospheric temperature and carbon dioxide by looking at ice core data spanning hundreds of thousands of years. It will help them understand the earth's carbon cycle, its relationship to the greenhouse effect and its role in regulating the earth's climate.

After class discussions describing ice cores, examining diagrams on the production of greenhouse gases, and watching a video on climate change, students graph ice core data collected at the Vostok Research Station in Antarctica . They draw graphs of carbon dioxide concentrations and temperature over time. They then answer questions based on the graphs.

As an extension activity, students watch a video of the science behind core sampling, and write a paragraph explaining how examining ice cores helps scientists to better understand today's climate.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Graphing techniques
  • Analyzing and interpreting results
  • Inferring and explaining relationships
  • Making predictions from sets of data
  • Represent relationships using graphs
  • Working cooperatively with team members

Strengths

  • Math outcomes for data management addressed
  • Effectively links real world science and environmental problems 
  • Provides step by step instructions for drawing graphs, sample graphs, and a glossary of terms
  •  The video clip on global warming provides an excellent review of climate change basics, and includes the impact on our planet, and suggestions for individual action
  • The extension video offers a real-life view of the process of ice core sampling
  • Promotes student awareness

Weaknesses

  • No authentic action opportunity provided
  • Little attention to whole group or small group reflection
  • Rubric not  included for graphs or worksheet questions

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource supports the teaching of those learning outcomes in science associated with global warming, climate change, fossil fuels, and (green) energy. It could also be used in geography classes to emphasize the link between human activity and the economic and environmental problems caused by climate change. Those math outcomes involving graphic representation and interpretation of data are addressed by this resource. The cross-curricular approach makes it a very useful resource for launching Earth Day.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
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        • Analyzing the validity, reliability, and representation of data enables us to compare and interpret.
        • Continuous linear relationships can be identified and represented in many connected ways to identify regularities and make generalizations
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Human activities cause changes in the global climate system
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Specialized Science 12: Climate change impacts biodiversity and ecosystem health
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Human Geography 12: Human activities alter landscapes in a variety of ways.
        • Physical Geography 12: Interactions between human activities and the atmosphere affect local and global weather and climate

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (2)

    • Air Pollution
    • Climate Change
  • Energy (1)

    • Energy Generation

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

Some background information is given on the reasons why the planet is warming, a video on climate change basics is shown, and students graph data on the earth's carbon dioxide levels and temperature changes over the past several hundred thousand years. Students will draw their own conclusions based on the interpretation of the graphs.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Satisfactory

The resource links human activity with the rise of carbon dioxide levels and global warming .This has many environmental consequences associated with sustainable ecosystems, and extreme weather.  Choices to limit greenhouse gas production and implement green energy projects have economic implications.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

Although no authentic action plan is given, the resource does promote an awareness of planet stewardship and the video suggests several potential lifestyle changes which will be required to decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

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

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

Students have opportunities for some incidental discussion on their beliefs and values.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
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 Satisfactory

The underlying message is that the warming of the planet has many dangerous implications for the future. Students are asked to take a role in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

Students, through guided inquiry, will see the link between their own energy consumption habits, the production of greenhouse gases, and the effect that these have on global warming. They will see that changes start with individual action in their own community.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

Both the video clip and the ice core sample data give a good picture of the past and present. The future is seen as positive if action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, so current trends will not continue.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

A combination of structured and guided inquiry is used. Students develop their own thoughts and opinions after interpreting real-life data.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

This is primarily a science and environmental science resource, but there are opportunities to address outcomes in math and geography.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Teacher-led class discussions, reading background information, watching videos and using data management skills to interpret and analyze real -life data are included in this lesson. 

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

Real-life ice core sample data is represented and interpreted.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

Questions are included with the graphing exercise (with suggested answers), but there are no rubrics to evaluate student work, or for peer or self 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.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

Students are using real-life data stretching hundreds of thousands of years. This ice core sample data offers a case study in itself.

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 Satisfactory
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.