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Teaching Climate Science by Studying Misinformation

Daniel Bedford, Weber State University

In this activity, students critically evaluate the arguments about climate change raised in a climate contrarian newspaper op-ed. This exercise is intended to strengthen student critical thinking and content knowledge at the end of unit on the climate system.

Activity will take about a class period.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 4 Cross Cutting Concepts, 5 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate science improves informed policy and decision-making
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPa
Reducing human vulnerability to and impacts on climate requires multi-disciplinary, integrated understanding
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPb
Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4d
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

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

  • Educators should read carefully the author's comments about the dangers of using these kind of opinion pieces.
  • Educators can apply the same methodology described in this activity to other opinion pieces that challenge estimated climate science.
  • Educator should be knowledgeable about typical climate denier arguments.
  • Additional materials on the http://www.skepticalscience.com/ website will support the educator in teaching this lesson.

About the Science

  • This resource contains no climate science content of its own. It supports an understanding of the role of scientific evidence and peer-review in scientific practice.
  • This activity contributes a very important aspect that is not found in may other teaching materials - how to provide students with tools of discussing climate change with deniers.

About the Pedagogy

  • This activity is a culminating project. Because of the required skills and concepts, it will likely best fit late in the semester.
  • Outstanding resource that needs to be used only by someone who is knowledgeable about arguments from climate change deniers.
  • Very careful use is required to not enforce misconceptions in students.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The activity web page includes an activity description/assignment, instructor's notes, and solution all tied to the particular op-ed piece referenced in the activity.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Cross Cutting Concepts: 4

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

HS-C1.2:Classifications or explanations used at one scale may fail or need revision when information from smaller or larger scales is introduced; thus requiring improved investigations and experiments.

HS-C3.3:Patterns observable at one scale may not be observable or exist at other scales.

HS-C5.1:The total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved.

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

Science and Engineering Practices: 5

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.7:Ask and/or evaluate questions that challenge the premise(s) of an argument, the interpretation of a data set, or the suitability of a design.

HS-P4.3:Consider limitations of data analysis (e.g., measurement error, sample selection) when analyzing and interpreting data

HS-P6.4:Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.

HS-P7.2:Evaluate the claims, evidence, and/or reasoning behind currently accepted explanations or solutions to determine the merits of arguments.

HS-P8.4: Evaluate the validity and reliability of and/or synthesize multiple claims, methods, and/or designs that appear in scientific and technical texts or media reports, verifying the data when possible.

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