Search for Resources

What is the Future of Earth's Climate?

Secondary

Description

Through a series of guided questions, students explore the question, what will Earth's climate be in the future? Students will not be able to answer the question at the end of the lesson, but they will be able to explain how scientists can be certain that Earth is warming while not being entirely certain about how much Earth will warm.

The unit consists of 6 activities.

Activity 1: Constructing an Argument: Climate 

Activity 2: Earth's Changing Climate

Activity 3: Interactions Within Earth's Atmosphere

Activity 4: Sources, Sinks, and Feedbacks

Activity 5: Feedbacks of Ice and Clouds

Activity 6: Using Models to Make Predictions

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Students will gain strengths in those skills associated with data analysis, hypothesizing from data available and constructing an argument in defense of a hypothesis.

Strengths

The strength of this lesson is that students are dealing with real time data about climate change, while learning about the scientific method. Background information for the teacher is included in each activity and links are included to relevant articles and profiles.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The resource has students examine the science of climate change and therefore sets the stage for a study of the  environmental, social and economic consequences of climate change and what we might be doing to meet the challenges of climate change.

The resource consists of six activities and the authors suggest that all of the activities be done in the sequence suggested. Teachers may opt to be selective in the activities they have their students undertake but should include Activity 1 since it establishes a framework for what follows.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Environmental Core
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Knowlege And Employability: Patterns and Relations
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Environmental Systems
        • Science 14:Investigating Matter and Energy in the Environment
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Analyzing the validity, reliability, and representation of data enables us to compare and interpret.
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Foundations of Mathematics and Pre-calculus: Representing and analyzing situations allows us to notice and wonder about relations.
        • Workplace Mathematics: Representing and analyzing data allows us to notice and wonder about relationships
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Foundations of Mathematics 11: Statistical analysis allows us to notice, wonder about, and answer questions about variation
        • Workplace Mathematics 11: Representing and analyzing data allows us to notice and wonder about relationships
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth Science 11: The transfer of energy through the atmosphere creates weather and is affected by climate change
        • Science for Citizenship 11: Scientific understanding enables humans to respond and adapt to changes locally and globally
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 12: Human activities cause changes in the global climate system
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Statistics 12: Statistical analysis allows us to explore, describe, model, and explain variation.
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Specialized Science 12: Climate change impacts biodiversity and ecosystem health
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical Geography 12: Incorporating data from a variety of sources allows us to better understand our globally connected world
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21st Centurty: Geographic Literacy
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Gases and the Atmosphere
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interdisciplinary Topics in Science 40S: Science, Technology, Society and the Environment
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physical Geography 110: The Atmosphere
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Advanced Environmental Science 120: Earth Systems
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 120:A Geographic Perspective on a Current Canadian Issue
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 1202: Natural and Human Systems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: The Atmosphere and the Environment
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography 3200/3202: World Climate Patterns
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Experiential Science 10, Terrestial Systems: Climatology and Meteorology
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Environmental Systems
        • Science 14:Investigating Matter and Energy in the Environment
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Atlantic Canada in the Global Community: Environment
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10: Atmospheric Environment
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Knowlege And Employability: Patterns and Relations
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Experiential Science 10, Terrestial Systems: Climatology and Meteorology
        • Science 14: Investigating Matter and Energy in the Environment
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20: The Changing Earth
        • Science24:Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Studies 35: Northern Climate
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Interactions in the Physical Environment
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Interactions in the Physical Environment
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Earth and Space Science: Climate Change
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Chemistry
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Hydrocarbons and Energy
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Human Impact on the Environment
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Forces of Nature: processes and Disasters (Univ./College Prep.): Systems: Interactions and Interdependece
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Preparation): Geographic Foundations: Space and Systems
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Mathematics for Work and Everyday Life: Reaoning with Data
        • Mathematics of Data Management (Univ. Prep.) Organization of Data for Analysis
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 521A, Global Studies: Physical Patterns of the World
        • Geography 531A (World Geography): Physical Patterns of the World
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 621A Global Issues : Inquiry- What are the issues?
        • Geography 631A Global Issues: What are the issues?
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The Contemporary World: Environment
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applied Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
        • Science & Technology: The Earth and Space
        • Science and the Environment: The Earth and Space
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Contemporary World: Environment
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Math 9:Patterns and Relations
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10: Climate
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth Science 30: Atmosphere and Hydrosphere
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Analyzing the validity, reliability, and representation of data enables us to compare and interpret.
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Foundations of Mathematics and Pre-calculus: Representing and analyzing situations allows us to notice and wonder about relations.
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Workplace Mathematics 11: Representing and analyzing data allows us to notice and wonder about relationships
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth Science 11: The transfer of energy through the atmosphere creates weather and is affected by climate change
    • 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
        • Physical Geography 12: Incorporating data from a variety of sources allows us to better understand our globally connected world

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

The lesson is intended to have students explore the question, what will Earth's climate be in the future? Rather than answer the question, the lesson provides the students with data that will help them formulate an answer, but the answer is qualified because students are working with climate models that are dependent on the information entered. This is the strength of the lesson. Students learn that they will continuously encounter questions that ask them to make a claim, explain their answer, rate their certainty with their answer, and explain their rating.

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 activities are concerned with the science that investigates the causes of climate change and what projections we can make about the future climate based on the data available. This should not be regarded as a weakness of the lesson, since an understanding of the causes is a necessary pre-requisite to investigating the social and economic consequences of climate change and other resources that focus on these considerations are readily available. 

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 Very Good

The activities help students realize that science has a great deal of data on which to make claims with considerable confidence that the climate is changing and what is driving that change, but because of the complexity of the issue, scientists must qualify their predictions about future climate change. In looking at the science data work with students may be expected to appreciate the various factors at play and how those factors contribute to an understanding of what is happening with our climate.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

The lesson should be rated "not considered" rather than "poor" with respect to action opportunities because the lesson has clearly defined goals that limit its reach. It does a most effective job in realizing the goals established and puts in place the type of understanding that will help inform student action when such action is undertaken.

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 Poor/Not considered

The lessons are not asking students to make judgements regarding the many ethical considerations that are part of the larger discussion of climate change but to first understand what science is saying about the issue and on what basis they are making their claims. 

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Promoting empathy and respect for humans is outside the boundaries of the lesson plan objectives but again this does not devalue the worth of the lesson. The lesson does, however, set the stage for other lessons where such issues are addressed.

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

The focus of the lesson is the science of climate change and it helps students understand what is going on in the natural world both in terms of the causes and consequences of climate change but does not deal with the ethical considerations of climate change.

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

The lesson asks students to analyze data such as scientist would work with in order to determine global trends with respect to the factors that are affecting climate. Since these global trends will have local consequences, interest in and concern for such consequences naturally follows and may be pursued in lessons that might follow.

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 Very Good

Students have an opportunity to examine data that reaches back into the past to understand what has been happening with respect to climate for some years. Other data provides evidence of what is happening today and models built on this data helps us project future scenarios.

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 Very Good

The activities are intended to have students explore data, evaluate the information the data provides and consider the limitations of conclusions based on the data. The conclusions, however tentative, are those of the students.

Open-Ended Instruction :

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

Integrated Learning Good

Students examine data supplied by a number of science disciplines and the skills developed in doing so are generic and related to making claims, defending those claims with relevant information, and acknowledging the limitations of those claims.

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 Very Good

The activities in the lesson strike a good balance between process and content. The content is focused on climate change and the process centers on the scientific method or how scientist gather and analyze data to answer questions. The activities place the student in the role of the scientist and guides them through the inquiry process.

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 Good

Students work with graphs to analyze climate change data over the years. They manage interactive models that illustrate the impact of various factors that influence climate. They operate a human emissions slider to determine  how much humans need to change their CO2 emissions to reduce the global temperature. They watch videos hosted by climate scientists.

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

The activities cast students in the role of climate scientist, provides them with "real" data and asks them to investigate the implications of that data. 

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

The activities include a number of occasions when students work in groups to analyze data and to develop claims based on that data.

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 Poor/Not considered

Each of the activities provide students with climate data and questions they are to answer based on their understanding of that data. Student answers allow teachers to assess students level of understanding. Student answers can also be recorded digitally or can be submitted to a data base established by the developers of the lesson.

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

The group assignments offer opportunities for a degree of peer teaching.

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 deal with the data that scientists are using to understand what is happening to our climate. This includes the impact of carbon dioxide, solar radiation, infrared radiation, water vapor, ocean temperatures, ice melt and the interactions among these factors.

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

While each of the activities set out an agenda in which students analyze data, answer questions and hypothesize from that data, the pace is somewhat self directed.

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.