Randy Russell, Windows to the Universe
Activity takes about 30-45 minutes.Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»
Activity can possibly be a homework assignment at high school level, but should be done in class at the middle school level.
This Activity builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.
Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.
- Climate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes
- Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives
Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- Intro to activity: Ideally educator would start activity by introducing how lesson fits into climate science (albedo, ocean circulations, migration patterns).
- Wrapping up the activity: "Why do we care about sea ice extent? How does this affect life on Earth?"
- Information on sea ice and sea ice formation should be provided by the educator as well as information on what the role of sea ice is for global warming and the thermohaline circulation.
- Educators might want to copy and paste data into Excel format to include a technology piece.
- Up-to-date data and imagery is available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) site and can augment this activity.
About the Science
- Carefully designed activity that introduces students to the concept of seasonality of sea ice and its extent, both in terms of seasonal variations and longer term trends.
- Quality of data is excellent (well-referenced, up-to-date).
- Information on more current data is provided in activity.
- Great practice - have the students make predictions on the graph before plotting the data. This will address the misconceptions that the maximum sea ice extent occurs during the coldest month (December) and the minimum sea ice extent occurs during the warmest month (June), which is not the case.
- Lesson provides a "teachable moment" to address the misconception of similar seasons in the two hemispheres.
About the Pedagogy
- Students are using the scientific process of forming a hypothesis, collecting data, and interpreting the results.
- Forming a hypothesis, graphing data, and discussing results will engage students with different learning styles.
- Very thorough background materials and educator's notes provided.
- Great extrapolation at the end of the activity of predicting sea ice extent into the future.
- This resource engages students in using scientific data.
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