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Climate Change on the Antarctic Peninsula

Juanita Constible, Luke Sandro, Richard E. Lee Jr., M.U. Ohio and Seen in The NSTA Science Teacher magazine

In this activity about climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula, learners investigate environmental changes in the living and nonliving resources of Antarctic peninsula and the impact of these changes on Adélie penguin communities. The activity stresses the importance of evidence in the formulation of scientific explanations.

Activity takes about 2 class periods (2-3 hours).

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate's role in habitats ranges and adaptation of species to climate changes
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3a
Life affects climate; climate affects life
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Life affects climate; climate affects life
Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7e

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:A) Organisms, populations, and communities
Other materials addressing:
A) Organisms, populations, and communities.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.

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

  • Consult text for several different strategies for shortening this lesson
  • Additional format for lesson available at NSTA Science Teacher Magazine 2007.
  • To supplement the Adélie penguin data set in the lesson, educator could add http://oceantoday.noaa.gov/adeliepenguins video.

About the Science

  • The activity stresses the importance of evidence in the formulation of scientific explanations.
  • Students investigate the ecological evidence/data sets (temperature data, numbers of breeding pairs of Adélie penguins, sea ice, precipitation, and krill densities) surrounding the decline in breeding successes of Adélie penguins along the western Antarctic peninsula.
  • Data provided is from a credible source.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This activity illustrates the interconnected nature of modern science requiring students to think about ocean, atmosphere, and biological processes.
  • The link between the role of increased cloud condensation nuclei (due to reduced sea ice) and increased precipitation is not correct.

About the Pedagogy

  • Uses a cooperative learning technique called a jigsaw.
  • Background information for teachers is concise and accurate.
  • A second version, printed in the NSTA's Science Teacher 2007, is a more polished version of this lesson, but it is not available online.
  • Engaging format for students with a basic assessment component. Data analysis and the nature of science are emphasized within the lesson, familiarizing students with how scientists work.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Student materials are well done.
  • Student materials are provided along with basic data sets and are well done.

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