History of Climate Science
Students work in small groups to conduct online research on a random set of important historical events in climate science then categorize whether these events were "scientific", "cultural", "economic", or "political". As a whole class the events are then compiled into a comprehensive timeline.
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered:
How the activity is situated in the course:
National or State Education Standards addressed by this activity?:
NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea: Global climate models used to predict changes continue to be improved, although discoveries about the global climate system are ongoing and continually needed.
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Critically read scientific literature adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas or conclusions and/or to obtain scientific and/or technical information to summarize complex evidence, concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms. Ask questions to clarify and refine an explanation. Evaluate the claims, evidence, and/or reasoning behind currently accepted explanations or solutions to determine the merits of arguments. Apply scientific reasoning to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion. Evaluate the claims, eidence, and/or reasoning behind currently accepted explanations or solutions to determine the merits of arguments. Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument or counter-arguments based on data and evidence. Respectfully provide and/or receive critiques on scientific arguments by probing reasoning and evidence, challenging ideas and conclusions, responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, and determining additional information required to resolve contradictions.
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Students observe patterns and cite patterns as empirical evidence for causality in supporting their explanations of phenomena. Students suggest cause and effect relationships to explain and predict behaviors in complex natural and designed systems. They also propose causal relationships by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system. They recognize changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects. Students can investigate or analyze a system by defining its boundaries and initial conditions, as well as its inputs and outputs. They recognize that predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in the models. Students understand much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable. They quantify and model changes in systems over very short or very long periods of time.
Content/concepts goals for this activity:
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity:
Students are expected to synthesize ideas and critically evaluate the current social perspectives of climate science and social decision-making.
Other skills goals for this activity:
Research, Collaboration, Respectful discussion, Analysis and Synthesis of students' own ideas with their new learning.
Description of the activity/assignment
Day 1: Students work in small groups to conduct online research a random set of important historical events in climate science. Students record the date, event details, and any other possible historical details correlated to the event.
Day 2: Students categorize their researched events as "scientific", "cultural", "economic", or "political". They write the date and a title of the event on the appropriate sticky notes (yellow = science, pink = culture, green = economic, blue = political). As a whole class, a timeline of the events is created. When the timeline is complete students go back to their small group and identify when major changes in the categorization of the events changes, keeping notes of their ideas individually. Possible small group discussions questions:
- What are the time frames for the different event categories, "scientific", "cultural", "economic", or "political"?
- When do we see a change in the categories that dominate the timeline? (When do we start to see economic events becoming predominant?)
- What are the perceived causes in those changes of predominance? What factors may be causing this
- Do you know of other events that we should include in this timeline? Why?
Homework: Individually, students synthesize what they have learned by writing a research paper on a set of at least 5 events that they perceive to be connected. These are assessed for clarity and precision, use of appropriate vocabulary and scientific thought, and avoidance of emotional or inflammatory language
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
Student Handout 1437508308 (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 148kB Jul21 15)
Set up the timeline by decades with more space given to more recent times.
Print out the timelines at aip.org and nytimes.com, cut the events into strips, and divide the strips evenly among the groups.
Be sure that students have access to online research tools.
Hand out the sticky notes and be consistent about assigning sticky note colors (yellow = science, pink = culture, green = economic, blue = political).
Have students briefly describe the event and when it happened as they hang the sticky notes on the timeline. As they are doing this, have the other students listen respectfully and possibly take notes.
- Solution Set: