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Gulf Stream Heat Budget and Europe's Mild Climate: A Problem-based Learning Activity

Warren C. Tomkiewicz, Plymouth State University , From the On The Cutting Edge activity collection

In this role-playing activity, learners are presented with a scenario in which they determine whether the Gulf Stream is responsible for keeping northern Europe warm. They must also address the potential future of the Gulf Stream if polar ice were to continue melting. The students work in small groups to identify the issue, discuss the problem, and develop a problem statement. They are then asked what they need to know to solve the problem.

Activity takes two class periods plus homework assignment. Computer with internet access necessary.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.

Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations
Other materials addressing:
G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:A) Questioning
Other materials addressing:
A) Questioning.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
Other materials addressing:
E) Organizing information.
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.

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

  • Different research questions could be assigned to different students so that during the final presentation knowledge about different topics is shared.

About the Content

  • From the activity summary: "The United Nations International Research Program has assigned your research group the task of making a recommendation as to whether the Gulf Stream is responsible for keeping Europe anomalously warm and the potential effects if polar ice were to continue melting."
  • Activity can be modified to answer numerous research questions.
  • Great way for students to learn the scientific process. A good activity before term papers are assigned.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Specific strengths include: - students find resources and real data - students are expected to analyze real data - students work together to expand their understanding of the topic - assessment includes both written and oral presentation of findings - students predict future results based on their own working knowledge of a physical system as it functions currently, but with key physical parameters altered in response to climate change.

About the Pedagogy

  • Assigning the activity to groups of students will be very effective.
  • Assessment via a rubric is suggested but one is not provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Easy and straightforward to use

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

This resource also addresses thermohaline circulation and climate change: http://essea.strategies.org/module.php?module_id=148
Entered the Collection: July 2013 Last Reviewed: September 2016

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