The Findings From Mauna Loa
The Lawrence Hall of Science
This activity takes about one to two 45-minute lesson periods.Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»
See how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 2 Science and Engineering Practices
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- Educator may want to use the text that accompanies this activity http://www.globalsystemsscience.org/studentbooks/cc/ch6 to establish context.
- While part of curricula designed for high school, the activity could be appropriate for upper middle school students, with appropriate supports and modifications.
- Graphing programs could be used or graphs made in advance for students to interpret if an educator wanted to focus on analysis and not making graphs.
- Instructions and link are provided at the end of the activity to access current 30+-year data and graphs on carbon cycle gases from NOAA ESRL, which keeps the resource from becoming outdated: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/.
- This activity is from the Climate Change guide, which is part of the Global System Sciences curriculum education theme Key Global Problems.
About the Science
- The activity uses real data to analyze and compare atmospheric carbon dioxide levels recorded at monitoring stations in Mauna Loa and Antarctica for a 2-year period (2006-2007).
- The 30-year average (1975-2005) of monthly average carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa is observed and the change in concentration over time is calculated.
- The effects of seasonal variations and differences in land cover on carbon dioxide levels are introduced but not explained in detail.
- Comments from expert scientist:
- Graphing real world data
- comparing graphs
- interpreting results to understand the ecological significance
- Also would be a great extension for students to try using Excel to plot their graphs
- Update the data to reflect more current years
About the Pedagogy
- This activity is very straight-forward; students plot CO2 concentration data provided from the two locations, compare variations/patterns from month to month and over 2 years, and answer several questions about why the patterns might be different in the two locations. Then they compare data from both sites over 30 years and consider what longer-term data indicates about overall trends common to both locations.
- Questions posed to students require them to examine the data and explain what they find.
- Prerequisite background information is available at: http://www.globalsystemsscience.org/studentbooks/cc/ch6
- This resource engages students in using scientific data.
See other data-rich activities
Technical Details/Ease of Use
- This is a straightforward activity involving interpretation of data tables and corresponding graphs. Very low tech and easy to follow.
- Free teacher guide with downloadable files and additional activities is available upon request at: http://www.globalsystemsscience.org/teacherguides.