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Paleoclimate Reconstruction Lab
http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/cc/sequence/day13.html

Environmental Literacy and Inquiry Working Group at Lehigh University

In this activity, students reconstruct past climates using lake varves as a proxy to interpret long-term climate patterns and to understand annual sediment deposition and how it relates to weather and climate patterns.

Activity takes one to two lesson periods.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate change is a significant and persistent change in an area’s average climate conditions or their extremes. Seasonal variations and multi-year cycles (for example, the El Niño Southern Oscillation) that produce warm, cool, wet, or dry periods across different regions are a natural part of climate variability. They do not represent climate change.
About Teaching Principle 4
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Scientific observations indicate that global climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and will change in the future. The magnitude and direction of this change is not the same at all locations on Earth.
About Teaching Principle 4
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mate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes
About Teaching Principle C
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Environmental observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system. From the bottom of the ocean to the surface of the Sun, instruments on weather stations, buoys, satellites, and other platforms collect climate data. To learn about past climates, scientists use natural records, such as tree rings, ice cores, and sedimentary layers. Historical observations, such as native knowledge and personal journals, also document past climate change.
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understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling
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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:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
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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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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

  • Instructors may want to do the lab exercise before showing the PowerPoint.
  • Access to the assessment can easily requested via an email from the developers.

About the Science

  • Students are introduced to examples of paleoclimate proxies and analyze varves to understand seasonal climate changes and environmental conditions.
  • Students use scientific data, and teacher notes contain the relevant diagrams of ice extent; however, the actual data source is not cited.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Activity is based on real data and involves measuring and graphing, which are important skills students need.

About the Pedagogy

  • Through video powerpoint slides, handouts, and supplemental reading documents, educators can implement this lesson to support learning how scientists use proxies to interpret past climate changes using varves.
  • Powerpoint file gives a great overview with lots of images on varve chronology.
  • Good background materials for teachers.
  • Student handouts are complete and available in pdf and Word format, which allows a teacher to tweak them to the needs of each class.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The supporting materials for educators provided within this lesson facilitate use in any middle school classroom.

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