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The Changing Geographic Distribution of Malaria with Global Climate Warming

Mary Savina, Kendra Murray, Carleton College, SERC Teaching Quantitative Skills in the Geosciences Collection

This activity engages students in the analysis of climate data to first find areas in the southern United States that are now close to having conditions in which the malaria parasite and its mosquito hosts thrive and then attempt to forecast when areas might become climatically suitable.

Activity takes about two weeks of class time including homework assignments. Computer with Internet access required.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Human health and mortality rates will be affected to different degrees in specific regions of the world as a result of climate change. Although cold-related deaths are predicted to decrease, other risks are predicted to rise. The incidence and geographical range of climate-sensitive infectious diseases—such as malaria, dengue fever, and tick-borne diseases—will increase. Drought-reduced crop yields, degraded air and water quality, and increased hazards in coastal and low-lying areas will contribute to unhealthy conditions, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.
About Teaching Principle 7
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mate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives
About Teaching Principle C
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Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations
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G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
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E) Organizing information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
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A) Human/environment interactions.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
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E) Environmental Issues.

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

  • An extensive list of tips is provided on the activity sheet.
  • Pairing students that are skilled in working with spreadsheets and GIS with students that struggle with these tools will be helpful.

About the Science

  • Data sets end in 2003 but still accomplish the objective learning goals for the activity. Instructor may challenge students to find more recent relevant data and update the spreadsheets provided.
  • Thoroughly-written background information with plenty of good citations.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students read and internalize scientific literature in order to put together a class presentation using PowerPoint.
  • Students gain experience analyzing real data sets using Excel. There is a guide for using Excel for this project that is very helpful.
  • This activity involves two or more students working together on a project and presentation.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Spreadsheet skills are necessary.
  • Access to spreadsheet software and GIS by students is required to complete the activity.
  • A couple of links in the background materials are broken but data can still be accessed by using a search engine.

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