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Natural Climate Change

WGBH, Teachers' Domain

This short video, adapted from NOVA, explains how Earth's position relative to the Sun might be responsible for the dramatic shift in the climate of what is now the Saharan nation of Djibouti.

Video length 3:48 min.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Milankovitch/orbital cycle
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1d
Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4d
Climate is variable
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate is variable
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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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

  • Be sure to point out that diagrams are NOT to scale in the season animation.
  • In middle school, can be used in a climate unit or a unit on cycles of Earth. Would also fit in a unit on the water cycle.
  • High school educators may want to use this video to augment an ecology unit.

About the Science

  • Several lines of evidence for climate change 9000 years ago in this Saharan region are examined.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Contain a good explanation of precession (orbital cycle). The accompanying essay is good. The resource links to national science standards.

About the Pedagogy

  • A good essay and discussion questions accompany the video.
  • Female scientist is featured.
  • Scale, as in most animations of Earth's orbit around the sun, is highly exaggerated.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Picture is grainy if viewed online in full screen mode.

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