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Greenhouse Emissions Reduction Role-Play Exercise
http://serc.carleton.edu/sp/library/roleplaying/examples/34147.html

K.M. Theissen, University of St. Thomas, Pedagogy in Action Collection from SERC

In this role-play activity, students take the roles of various important players in the climate change policy negotiation including politicians, scientists, environmentalists, and industry representatives. Working in these roles, students must take a position, debate with others, and then vote on legislation designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Can be used in a variety of courses including writing and rhetoric, and social sciences.

Activity takes two 2-hour class periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 3 Performance Expectations, 5 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 4 Cross Cutting Concepts, 4 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Humans affect climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Humans affect climate

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
Access to energy resources affects quality of life.
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7.5 Access to energy affects quality of life.
Some populations are more vulnerable to impacts of energy choices than others.
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7.6 Vulnerable populations.
Decisions concerning the use of energy resources are made at many levels.
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5.1 Energy decisions are made at many levels.
Energy decisions are influenced by economic factors.
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5.4 Economic factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by political factors.
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5.5 Political factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by environmental factors.
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5.6 Environmental factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by social factors.
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5.7 Social Factors.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:C) Political and economic systems
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C) Political and economic systems.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:D) Global Connections
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D) Global Connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
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A) Human/environment interactions.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:A) Identifying and investigating issues
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A) Identifying and investigating issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:B) Sorting out the consequences of issues
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B) Sorting out the consequences of issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
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C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:D) Working with flexibility, creativity, and openness
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D) Working with flexibility, creativity, and openness.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.2 Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills:C) Planning and taking action
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C) Planning and taking action.

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

  • Activity should be done at the end of a unit on climate change, after students have learned some of the science behind the issue.
  • See tips provided by the developer in the activity sheet.
  • It might be interesting to collaborate with a politics/government studies class when doing this activity, with each group being a mixture of students from both classes.
  • The convention can be made more realistic with a simple PowerPoint described in activity sheet.
  • Link for Stern Report referred to in activity is: http://www.ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/20061104_stern.pdf

About the Science

  • Uses Copenhagen Diagnosis 2009 to engage students in role-play discussion of climate change.
  • To stay up-to-date on the science, educators can use summaries from the most recent IPCC reports instead of the 2009 report in the activity.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The activity's strength is that it does provide a real-world setting for understanding the complexity on climate change mitigation as a policy issue. It's a great choice for K-12 and early undergraduate courses. However, there's a mismatch between the activity and the goals. The IPPC report would be a better choice for the science than the Copenhagen Diagnosis and Stern Report. This is true for content and also for authority, which is especially relevant for this activity.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students explore roles that may challenge their personal feelings or beliefs; helps bring into focus the complexity of global energy issues and politics.
  • Educators are cautioned to steer away from denial-type debate about the existence of climate change. Strive for discussions that allow perspectives to be aired, while facts and evidence remain as the basis for decision-making.
  • A rubric and teaching notes are included for the instructor.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The assignment handout is well-written and clear, and includes assessment information.
  • To run a "good convention" a lot of preparation is required of the instructor.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Performance Expectations: 3

HS-ESS3-4: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

HS-ETS1-1: Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.

HS-ETS1-3: Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 5

HS-ESS3.A2:All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors.

HS-ESS3.C1:The sustainability of human societies and the biodiversity that supports them requires responsible management of natural resources.

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

HS-ETS1.A2:Humanity faces major global challenges today, such as the need for supplies of clean water and food or for energy sources that minimize pollution, which can be addressed through engineering. These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities

HS-ETS1.B1:When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 4

Cause and effect, Systems and System Models, Stability and Change

HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

HS-C2.3:Systems can be designed to cause a desired effect.

HS-C4.4:Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models.

HS-C7.2:Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible.

Science and Engineering Practices: 4

Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P4.6: Analyze data to identify design features or characteristics of the components of a proposed process or system to optimize it relative to criteria for success.

HS-P6.5:Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.

HS-P7:

HS-P8.2:Compare, integrate and evaluate sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a scientific question or solve a problem.


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