CLN > Climate Change Education Projects > Earth System Science: A Key to Climate Literacy

Earth System Science: A Key to Climate Literacy

Principal Investigators: Tamara Shapiro Ledley, Kathy Ellins, Julie Libarkin, Karen McNeal
Project Website: EarthLabs website; Earth System Science module funded here not available yet.

Project Description

The Earth System Science: A Key to Climate Literacy project responds to the NASA Office of Education's Global Climate Change Education (GCCE) NRA, which seeks to enhance the teaching and learning of global climate change and Earth system science. It specifically addresses Funding Category 2 in the NRA: "Strengthen the Teaching and Learning About Global Climate Change Within Formal Education Systems."

Earth system science is a key to climate literacy. Understanding climate change requires understanding that Earth is a holistic system of dynamic, interacting components. In order to directly address this, we propose to create an Earth Systems Climate EarthLabs
( module comprised of nine sequential, inquiry-based lab activities that introduce students to Earth system science and climate change which are based on the Exploring the Connections activities of the Earth as a System chapter of the GLOBE Teachers Guide. The lab experiences will feature a combination of fieldwork and classroom activities integrating NASA visualizations and data, and will demonstrate the rigor and depth of true lab courses. The module will be freely accessible on the web, will integrate teacher professional development support, and will serve as a lab component for capstone high-school Earth science courses. It will facilitate the emergence of lab-based Earth science courses certified for college admissions and increase the number of students who study global climate change.

To ensure scalability, sustainability, and widespread adoption, the Earth Systems Climate EarthLabs module will be supported by a three-tiered professional development/classroom implementation program, coupled with an evaluation and research program to determine the usefulness of the professional development materials and the effectiveness of the module for students in the classroom. The first tier of the professional development is direct engagement with an initial group of teachers and face-to-face workshops, the second is online teacher enhancement materials embedded in each lab activity, and the third is guidelines that enable trained teachers to provide in-service support to their peers for the module's classroom deployment.

The first tier takes advantage of the teacher professional development program and enhancement workshop of the TXESS Revolution, allowing us to get input into the development of the materials, and gather feedback once the materials are developed to refine content, pedagogy, teacher support, and ease-of-use. Tiers two and three focus on the module's online professional development components to ensure teachers can effectively deliver Earth system science and climate change labs without the need for workshops, making the materials scalable to a national audience. Evaluation/research questions we will address through these activities include

  1. are the online material effective in helping teachers use the module with their students;
  2. is the guide helpful for teachers to introduce the module to other teachers; and
  3. does the module help students develop a fuller understanding of Earth system science and climate literacy.

This project will address three of the four goals of the NASA GCCE program:

  1. improve the teaching and learning about global climate change;
  2. increase the number of students using NASA Earth observation data/NASA Earth system models to investigate and analyze global climate change issues; and
  3. increase access to high quality global climate change education among students from groups historically underrepresented in science.

In addition, it will contribute to addressing NASA's major educational goals of

  1. Strengthen NASA and the Nation's future workforce and
  2. Attract and Retain students in STEM disciplines.

Contact Information: Tamara Shapiro Ledley Tamara_Ledley at terc dot edu