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Using GLOBE Data to Study the Earth System

Nick Haddad, Tamara Shapiro Ledley, Center for Science Teaching and Learning, TERC

In this activity, students are guided through the process of locating and graphing web-based environmental data that has been collected by GLOBE Program participants using actual data collected by students in Pennsylvania and comparing them to their local climatic boundary conditions. This activity highlights the opportunities for using GLOBE data to introduce basic concepts of Earth system science.

Activity takes three or four 45-minute class periods.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

World's climate definition
About Teaching Principle 2
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Definition of climate and climatic regions
About Teaching Principle 4
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Climate is not the same thing as weather – defining difference
About Teaching Principle 4
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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
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A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.

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

  • Instructions are very cookie-cutter/step-by-step in nature. It might be worthwhile to include some additional questions that ask students to explore the available data sets more on their own.
  • Link to a data source for local climate data from NOAA: http://www7.ncdc.noaa.gov/CDO/CDODivisionalSelect.jsp.

About the Science

  • Students use real data to understand regional climatic variability. The example that is used in this activity is data collected by students in Pennsylvania and the activity prompts students to compare the presented data with their local climatic conditions.
  • Data that is used as a sample set in this activity is unfortunately fairly old. The school was most active in collecting data between 1996-2003. The examples ask the students to look at data from 1999. However, the data are as valid as more recent data to understand regional climatic boundary conditions.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity is guided inquiry and mainly engaging because the students are asked to compare the data from the sample school in Pennsylvania to their own region.
  • The link from the local to the global understanding is fairly weak and can be strengthened by looking at data from different GLOBE schools along the same latitude and another activity on global climate modeling.
  • Very student-friendly approach to accessing and graphing data collected and submitted by same age students is a nice touch for middle school students
  • Very scripted and might be challenging for visual learners.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Technically well-done activity with good descriptions.
  • Access to GLOBE website and graphing tool is free.

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