Decenber 2013/January 2014 Teacher's Guide for Global Climate Change: a reality Check Table of Contents



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In-class Activities


(lesson ideas, including labs & demonstrations)


  1. The University Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) has a series of activities that will help students understand various aspects of climate change. Although some are designed primarily for students in grades 6-9, they can easily be adapted for older students. These include

    1. The Difference Between Climate and Weather: http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_2_2_8t.htm

    2. Climate Variability: http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_2_2_9t.htm

    3. Paleoclimates and Pollen: http://spark.ucar.edu/activity/paleoclimates-and-pollen

    4. Time and Cycles—Dendochronology: http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_2_2_11t.htm

    5. What Is a Greenhouse? http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_3_2_12t.htm

    6. What Factors Influence a Greenhouse? http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_3_2_13t.htm

    7. What Do Concentrations Mean? http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_4_2_14t.htm

    8. What Is the Carbon Cycle? http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_4_2_15t.htm

    9. Where In the World Is Carbon Dioxide? http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_4_2_17t.htm

    10. Human Activity and Climate Change: http://www.ucar.edu/learn/1_4_2_20t.htm

  1. Students can do lab activities that illustrate reactions that produce or consume carbon dioxide. For example, you can do a demonstration in which you burn a candle in a large beaker. After the candle is lighted, cover the mouth of the beaker with a large watch glass or glass plate. After the candle goes out, remove it carefully and add limewater to the beaker and swirl. The limewater will become cloudy, indicating the presence of CO2 in the beaker as a result of the burning.

  2. This activity allows students to plot CO2 data from Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and determine rate of increase: http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/interactive/examples/co2.html.

  3. Lawrence Hall of Science produced a complete teacher guide to climate change science, including numerous activities: http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/gss/rev/TeacherGuides-PDFs/2CC-TG.pdf.

  4. You can show the formation of acidic water by bubbling carbon dioxide gas through water. Use a pH indicator like bromothymol blue.

  5. This is a series of climate change lessons from ARM in Alaska. Most interesting are the lessons later in the unit on the changes in Alaska caused by global warming. (http://education.arm.gov/teacherslounge/lessons/climate_change.pdf?id=89)

  6. The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) has a series of activities about climate change. The activities include the Earth’s energy balance, carbon dioxide emissions, paleoclimatology, ice core sampling and energy sources. (http://cleanet.org/clean/educational_resources/index.html)

  7. This guide to climate change is offered by Stanford University and includes several modeling exercises using climate change data. (https://pangea.stanford.edu/programs/outreach/climatechange/curriculum/high-school)

  8. From Google Sites, a listing of 24 exercises and activities about climate change: https://sites.google.com/a/globalsystemsscience.org/courses-lifelines/teaching-resources/activities.






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