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Sea Ice Extension for the Earth as a System Learning Activity

Gary Randolph, GLOBE Program, Walt Meier, National Snow and Ice Data Center, SERC On The Cutting Edge Collection

The purpose of this activity is to identify global patterns and connections in environmental data contained in the GLOBE Earth Systems Poster, to connect observations made within the Earth Systems Poster to data and information at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and to understand the connections between solar energy and changes at the poles, including feedback related to albedo.

Activity takes two class periods plus possibly additional time for preparation and extension activities.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 5 Cross Cutting Concepts, 7 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Earth's Energy balance
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1b
Sunlight warms the planet
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1a
World's climate definition
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2a
Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Definition of climate and climatic regions
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4a

Energy Literacy

The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
Other materials addressing:
1.2 Thermal energy.
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
Other materials addressing:
2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
Other materials addressing:
C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:D) Flow of matter and energy
Other materials addressing:
D) Flow of matter and energy.

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

  • Most of the activity is written in the assignment file
  • Activity focuses on 2007 sea ice minimum, so teacher will need to update activity with data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ or other sources.
  • Requires a substantial amount of teacher preparation to ensure students don't get lost in the material.
  • Install required software on school computers prior to doing activity to save time.

About the Science

  • Data-rich activity that pulls from a number of different sources. Will need good preparation to ensure students don't get lost in materials.
  • This activity combines two other activities that have also been reviewed for the CLEAN collection and provides an extension to those activities.
  • Data in activity is for 2007, but concepts still apply as do skills developed by activity; data sources links provided so instructor could easily update the activity to current data.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Conveys how solar energy varies with latitude and by season, shows albedo affects how much solar energy gets absorbed.
  • Uses sea ice as an example to show changes in the surface can dramatically change the amount of absorbed energy.
  • Resource based on assumption of a cloud-free environment.

About the Pedagogy

  • Involves visualizations and spreadsheet data manipulation.
  • Data modeling and output make this activity interesting to students.
  • Activity extensions and follow-ups are suggested in Word handout.
  • Assessment suggestions are general, and educators may need to develop appropriate strategies.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Hand-out materials give detailed instructions to students and are easy to follow.
  • A basic knowledge of Microsoft Excel will help students.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

This activity is related to another CLEAN activity called "Whither Arctic Sea Ice" found at http://cleanet.org/resources/41826.html. Updated 2007 Earth Systems poster available here: http://classic.globe.gov/page?earth_system

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 5

Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Energy and Matter, Stability and Change

HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

HS-C2.4:Changes in systems may have various causes that may not have equal effects.

HS-C3.5:Algebraic thinking is used to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth).

HS-C5.2:Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system.

HS-C7.3:Feedback (negative or positive) can stabilize or destabilize a system.

Science and Engineering Practices: 7

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.1:Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

HS-P3.4:Select appropriate tools to collect, record, analyze, and evaluate data.

HS-P3.5:Make directional hypotheses that specify what happens to a dependent variable when an independent variable is manipulated.

HS-P4.2:Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including determining function fits to data, slope, intercept, and correlation coefficient for linear fits) to scientific and engineering questions and problems, using digital tools when feasible.

HS-P5.4:Use simple limit cases to test mathematical expressions, computer programs, algorithms, or simulations of a process or system to see if a model “makes sense” by comparing the outcomes with what is known about the real world.

HS-P6.1:Make a quantitative and/or qualitative claim regarding the relationship between dependent and independent variables.

HS-P8.2:Compare, integrate and evaluate sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a scientific question or solve a problem.

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