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Hitting Home: Climate Change in Colorado
http://learnmoreaboutclimate.colorado.edu/pdf/lesson-files/hitting-home-lesson.zip

Laura Bicknell, Kellie Courtney, Jessica Campbell, John Gerber, University of Colorado at Boulder

In this lesson, students examine and interpret varied observational datasets and are asked to determine whether the data supports or does not support the statement: climate change is occurring in Colorado.

Activity takes about three 50-minute class 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
Other materials addressing 4d
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.
About Teaching Principle 5
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Growing evidence shows that changes in many physical and biological systems are linked to human-caused global warming. Some changes resulting from human activities have decreased the capacity of the environment to support various species and have substantially reduced ecosystem biodiversity and ecological resilience.
About Teaching Principle 6
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Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations
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G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:D) Evaluating accuracy and reliability
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D) Evaluating accuracy and reliability.
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.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:A) Identifying and investigating issues
Other materials addressing:
A) Identifying and investigating issues.

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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Human activities, such as reducing the amount of forest cover, increasing the amount and variety of chemicals released into the atmosphere, and intensive farming, have changed the earth's land, oceans, and atmosphere. Some of these changes have decreased the capacity of the environment to support some life forms.
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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

  • Consider not showing a video to begin the lesson. Do the activity first and use the videos as an extension or summary of the concept.

About the Science

  • To investigate whether climate change is happening in Colorado, students examine and analyze various datasets concerning changes in peak river flow, glaciers, temperature, fire frequency, snowpack, changes in birds and plants.
  • Uses real data: observations of various natural systems.
  • Snowpack and fire data are several years old.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students engage in a guided version of the scientific process, beginning with observations of real data and continuing through analysis and hypothesis testing, ending with validation or invalidation of hypothesis. Students then do a performance assessment at the end of the activity (write an article to the newspaper).
  • Various handouts used for the analysis of the research question provide good scaffolding.
  • Videos (online) are suggested as additional materials.
  • Aligns with Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS.

Technical Details/Ease of Use


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