Idea Bank: Climate Change Inquiriesby: Ryan Bowman

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How can students engage in authentic inquiry on global climate change if they are not able to do the actual experiments? Many questions about climate change emerge over large areas and long periods of time. The good news is that much of the data from these experiments is available for free online. Students can use this data to answer their inquiry questions and compare their results to those of the scientific community. This article suggests some online resources that will engage your students in true inquiry about the science of climate change—without the added expense of traveling to Antarctica!

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Reviews (5)
  • on Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:13 PM

This is a great article that presents information on an online data collection accessible to K-12 teachers. The online data portal provides data on atmospheric CO2 and global surface temperature anomalies. The article provides information on how to access this data and suggestions on inquiry activities that can be done by students using this data.

Kathy Sparrow  (Delray Beach, FL)
Kathy Sparrow (Delray Beach, FL)

  • on Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:21 PM

The education team from The Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets has created a portal that allows educators to access real time data for K-12 grade levels. Teacher can use this data to allow students to view the data, make observations, ask questions, create generalizations and share them with other students. Students can build their understanding of global climate change and at the same time understand the nature of science.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Wed Apr 13, 2011 3:19 PM

This is an excellent resource if you want to bring real global climate change data into your classroom for your students to analyze. The author presents a brief description of resources to teach an inquiry based lesson plan on global climate change using scientific data. A sample lesson plan sequence is provided. The author refers teachers to the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS), which studies the impact of climate change on polar ice sheets. CReSIS has created a website to connect educators with climate change data, the K-12 Data portal. One correction, the website provided for the K-12 Data Portal in this article is no longer an active link. The CReSIS K-12 Data Portal can now be found at Background information and lesson plans with sample questions and graphs are provided at the K-12 Data Portal. The data set is formatted for K-12 classroom use so does not require teacher processing. Another r

Dorothy Ginnett  (Stevens Point, WI)
Dorothy Ginnett (Stevens Point, WI)

  • on Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:52 PM

I train students as “Climate Change Scientists” every year as part of a preparation for Climate Change Student Summit held yearly. I was very excited to see this article because I am always looking for more inquiry based lesson plan ideas on how to teach climate change. I really like the suggestion presented in this article – to have the students investigate climate change data. This is a unique approach, and it is one I believe I can use even with my middle grade students with sufficient preparation. I especially like that the author has provided questions to help drive the inquiry. While this is a different approach to inquiry – usually we have the students gather the data – I believe this is a very effective way to raise student interest in data that sometimes can overwhelm them in a sea of numbers without meaning. This is real science - finding meaning within authentic data in relation to climate change. What a great way to prepare students to become climate change speciali

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:15 PM

This article presents lesson ideas using climate change data gathered from remote sensing of the ice sheets. The author presents the framework for unguided inquiry, students are given data sets and asked observational questions. The idea of the lesson is to mimic the process scientist use to look at data and discover trends.

Angelika Fairweather  (Bradenton, FL)
Angelika Fairweather (Bradenton, FL)

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