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A Reader's Guide to Climate Change

Consortium for Ocean Leadership

In this activity from the Deep Earth Academy, students divide into groups to read and discuss one of nine short articles (1-2 pages) about research done by the Ocean Drilling Program. These articles discuss our understanding about past climate based on collected data. These articles briefly describe the research conducted and the findings. Students use the information from the article to complete a write-up that they share with other students. An extension activity involves examining ocean drilling data using Google Earth.

Activity takes one to two class periods.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4d
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
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Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

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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Sometimes, scientists can control conditions in order to obtain evidence. When that is not possible, practical, or ethical, they try to observe as wide a range of natural occurrences as possible to discern patterns.
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The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
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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

  • Related ocean drilling activities and resources on paleoclimatology can be found at ANDRILL: http://www.andrill.org/flexhibit/index.html
  • The headline where it says (Not for the science wimpy!) should be covered before photocopying. No need scaring students who don't love science.
  • Showing a short movie about ocean drilling as an introduction to the topic could help engage students.
  • At pre-college level, one may want to use AVID or UDL reading strategies for assisting students with comprehension.

About the Science

  • The reports are on research into what the past can tell us about the present and future.
  • Students write down from where in the world and which geologic time period cores originate. Puts articles and cores in context.
  • Some of the articles contain brief (incomplete) citations of the original research.
  • There is no guidance for the instructor or background support for the readers on these difficult articles.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Students must work in groups to understand the material and reach conclusions about what they have learned before presenting these results to their peers.
  • Students are required to read scientific literature and break it down into pieces: investigation question(s), hypotheses, and methods.
  • Students must learn new scientific terminology and define it based on context prior to consulting a scientific dictionary.

About the Pedagogy

  • Worksheet-based reading comprehension activity with short scientific articles and questions that are particularly penetrating or interesting.
  • Reports are available as a single long pdf at http://www.oceanleadership.org/files/pdf-files/OceanDrillingProgramClimateChangeHighlights.pdf
  • These articles can be read and analyzed independently during class or as homework. They can also initiate a lively and provocative class discussion.
  • If groups discuss the same paper, there is potential for some peer learning.
  • The basic intention is for students to learn how to read these kinds of papers with support from dictionaries, reference materials, and their peers.
  • Good reading framework that could be adapted to other sets of scientific articles.
  • No bibliography or references, beyond the articles being from Ocean Drilling Program, are provided. Since students are usually required to document sources, this should be done here as well to ensure and illustrate how to document credible sources.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • This is a very low-tech exercise – students only need the short research papers and reference materials.
  • As an extension, students can use Google Earth to explore some of the drill sites and data that were recovered.

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