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Time Series: Uncovering the Hidden Processes in Science
http://pal.lternet.edu/docs/outreach/educators/instructional_materials/time_series_lesson/Palmer%20LTER%20FINAL%20Time%20Series%20Teacher%20Ver2013.pdf

Beth Simmons, Palmer LTER

In this activity, students review techniques used by scientists, as they analyze a 50-year temperature time series dataset. The exercise helps students understand that data typically has considerable variability from year to year and to predict trends or forecast the future, there is value in long-term data collection.

Activity takes about one 45-60 minute period

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

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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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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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:A) Questioning
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A) Questioning.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
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E) Organizing information.

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

  • Educator can use this activity in a variety of ways as a formative or summative assessment, or stand-alone activity during any time of the year as it addresses science processes.
  • Great activity to use in any discussion of why, at least in climate science, data collected over long periods of time is valuable.

About the Science

  • This lesson uses long-term sea surface temperatures to help students understand the benefits of using long-term data to make scientific observations and identify trends, as opposed to selecting a short-term occurrence. Strengths lie in its short to-the-point format.
  • The concept is simple - demonstrating why single snapshots of data are not suitable for finding trends or patterns that occur over long time periods, as in changes in climate. Richard Alley illustrates this concept nicely in one of the Earth: The Operator's Manual segments, choosing individual data points in his lifetime.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Straightforward simple activity that very quickly demonstrates to students the importance of looking beyond a snapshot of data.
  • This lesson is intended to be an introductory activity to a science methods/process unit as stated by the author.
  • The assessment is successful completion of the worksheets used to analyze the temperature graphs.
  • Group discussions both in small groups and with the entire class round out the exercise.
  • Resources for those interested in learning more are provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Available in pdf format.

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