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UCAR/NSTA Web Seminars:

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Teaching Climate with Models: Breathing of the Earth

All web seminar participants use online tools that allow them to mark-up presenter's slides or share desktop applications in addition to engaging in chat with others online and answering poll questions This Web Seminar took place on June 11, 2012 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The presenters were Dr. Randy Russell, Educational Designer with the Office of Education and Outreach at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and Dr. Scott Denning, Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dr. Russell and Dr. Denning presented information on climate models and shared a number of interactive simulations that can help teachers increase student understanding of key concepts.

The PowerPoint, related resources from the NSTA Learning Center, and web links from the presentation are now contained in the above resource collection. Clicking on the collection link will place it in your Learning Center, My Library, neatly organized under the My Resource Collections tab.


This web seminar is the first in a series examining the use of models (both conceptual models and computer models) for teaching about the science of climate and global change. Dr. Russell and Dr. Denning discussed the exchanges of carbon between Earth's atmosphere, the oceans, and land plants, then explained how human activities have altered those exchange rates. The presenters also showed participants several interactive animations that describe the "climate bathtub" model as a way to help students understand the flow of carbon between various "reservoirs" or "stocks." Finally, the two presenters gave examples of how the bathtub model can help students overcome their misconceptions and understand the importance of timely action to reduce our impacts on future climate.


Fifty-two (52) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition to the presenter and NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Two participants joined from locations outside of the United States: Canada and Turkey.


Seminar participants received one of the NSTA SciGuides. A certificate of attendance was deposited into participants' My PD Record and Certificates area in the NSTA Learning Center for completing the evaluation form at the end of the program.


Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • “Excellent visuals for teaching climate.”
  • “Increased my learning and confidence level for presenting climate change.”
  • “The carbon cycle diagram was deeper than any I've ever seen!”
  • “Gave me valuable ways to use models (bathtub, faucets and drains) to help my students in their understanding of the concept of carbon cycle.”

Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!




For more information contact webseminars@nsta.org


UCAR logo Underwritten by University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)