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Sea Ice Extension for the Earth as a System Learning Activity

Gary Randolph, GLOBE Program, Walt Meier, National Snow and Ice Data Center, SERC On The Cutting Edge Collection

The purpose of this activity is to identify global patterns and connections in environmental data contained in the GLOBE Earth Systems Poster, to connect observations made within the Earth Systems Poster to data and information at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and to understand the connections between solar energy and changes at the poles, including feedback related to albedo.

Activity takes two class periods plus possibly additional time for preparation and extension activities.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Earth's Energy balance
About Teaching Principle 1
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Sunlight warms the planet
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World's climate definition
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Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
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Definition of climate and climatic regions
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Energy Literacy

The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
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1.2 Thermal energy.
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
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2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
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A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
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C) Systems and connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:D) Flow of matter and energy
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D) Flow of matter and energy.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Most of the activity is written in the assignment file
  • Activity focuses on 2007 sea ice minimum, so teacher will need to update activity with data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ or other sources.
  • Requires a substantial amount of teacher preparation to ensure students don't get lost in the material.
  • Install required software on school computers prior to doing activity to save time.

About the Science

  • Data-rich activity that pulls from a number of different sources. Will need good preparation to ensure students don't get lost in materials.
  • This activity combines two other activities that have also been reviewed for the CLEAN collection and provides an extension to those activities.
  • Data in activity is for 2007, but concepts still apply as do skills developed by activity; data sources links provided so instructor could easily update the activity to current data.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Conveys how solar energy varies with latitude and by season, shows albedo affects how much solar energy gets absorbed.
  • Uses sea ice as an example to show changes in the surface can dramatically change the amount of absorbed energy.
  • Resource based on assumption of a cloud-free environment.

About the Pedagogy

  • Involves visualizations and spreadsheet data manipulation.
  • Data modeling and output make this activity interesting to students.
  • Activity extensions and follow-ups are suggested in Word handout.
  • Assessment suggestions are general, and educators may need to develop appropriate strategies.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Hand-out materials give detailed instructions to students and are easy to follow.
  • A basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel will help students.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

This activity is related to another CLEAN activity called "Whither Arctic Sea Ice" found at http://cleanet.org/resources/41826.html. Updated 2007 Earth Systems poster available here: http://classic.globe.gov/page?earth_system

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