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Cool Cores Capture Climate Change
http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/cores/index.html

Jean Pennycook, Earth Exploration Toolbook/TERC

This Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter is a detailed computer-based exploration in which students learn how various climatic conditions impact the formations of sediment layers on the ocean floor. They analyze sediment core data from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica for evidence of climate changes over time. In addition, they interact with various tools and animations throughout the activity, in particular the Paleontological Stratigraphic Interval Construction and Analysis Tool (PSICAT) that is used to construct a climate change model of a sediment core from core images.

Activity takes five 45-minute periods. Computer access required.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

mate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes
About Teaching Principle C
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Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b
Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models that represent the climate system and make predictions about its future behavior. Results from these models lead to better understanding of the linkages between the atmosphere-ocean system and climate conditions and inspire more observations and experiments. Over time, this iterative process will result in more reliable projections of future climate conditions.
About Teaching Principle 5
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Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:F) Working with models and simulations
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F) Working with models and simulations.
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.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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Scientific investigations usually involve the collection of relevant data, the use of logical reasoning, and the application of imagination in devising hypotheses and explanations to make sense of the collected data.
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Computer modeling explores the logical consequences of a set of instructions and a set of data. The instructions and data input of a computer model try to represent the real world so the computer can show what would actually happen. In this way, computers assist people in making decisions by simulating the consequences of different possible decisions.
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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

  • Pair ELL students with non-ELL students at the computers if possible. Teachers should download the PSICAT programs to computers ahead of time.
  • Spend some extra time guiding students through the PSICAT program.
  • Reinforce that the oldest sediments are at the bottom of the core and the youngest sediments are at the top of the core; this is particularly important when students build their own core to illustrate a warm climate and open water in the Ross Sea followed by a period of cooling, the advance of an ice sheet, and finally a period of warming with a retreat of the ice sheet.
  • Refer through the activity back to the guiding questions at the end of the case study Climate is indicated by the type of sediment found in the cores.
  • To shorten this activity, students can do parts of the step-by-steps such as viewing the cards with images of the core
  • If time for the complete activity is not available, having students interact with the interactive animation in Step 4, showing an ice shelf advancing and retreating, is recommended http://andrill.org/system/files/web/images/edu/iceshelfadvanceretreat.swf
  • A related core investigation activity which is not computer-based and is less involved is http://www.andrill.org/flexhibit/flexhibit/materials/activities/Activity5A-ChartingTemperatureChanges.pdf

About the Science

  • A detailed and challenging series of activities that engage students in the science of analyzing ice cores to study paleoclimate using the types of tools used by scientists to analyze data.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Very good material. Puts actual research tools to use. I like the interpretive steps in the activities.

About the Pedagogy

  • The lesson is scaffolded so that students learn about ocean sediment cores, which they then apply to actual data sets. The multiple extensions and links to other explorations and visuals meets the needs of an academically diverse classes.
  • Very complete treatment of this subject with background, case study, step-by-step instructions, information about the data and tools, and extensions to take the exercise further.
  • Best practice use of applied technology and models to study past climates.
  • The "Going Further" section provides a number of suggestions for inquiry-based learning. The step-by-step is guided inquiry.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The PSICAT download program may be a technical concern for teachers. Pre-loading this software and testing the tool before class is highly recommended, and this may be an issue for some schools.
  • Pop up windows in the PSICAT software aid help learners understand and follow the directions to use technology in the activity.
  • Interactive animation is a Shockwave file that might need a plug-in for some computers
  • There is a tutorial movie for the PSICAT application in the Going Further section.
  • If images look fuzzy on the page, click on them to enlarge.

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