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Forecasting Climate Variability and Change: A Matter of Survival

Cindy Shellito, SERC, Carlton College

In this activity, students explore past examples of climate variability in three locations: the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes, Central America, and coastal Greenland, and consider differences between climate variability and climate change.

Activity takes about one 50-minute class period.

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, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 1 Science and Engineering Practice

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

  • This activity contains several parts, each of which is well-described and could stand alone or be combined with other activities. Educators can use all of the steps here or excerpt the parts that are most relevant to their situation.
  • The activity includes a detailed list of teaching tips.

About the Science

  • This unit is designed to engage students in the topics of climate variability and climate change by introducing them to impacts of changes on human society and cultures in the past.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - Understanding concepts of positive and negative feedbacks
    - Students learn the impacts of climate variability
    - learning forced vs. unforced climate change
    - hopefully a lot of time is allotted for students to understand all aspects presented, it is a lot of (awesome) information.

About the Pedagogy

  • This is the opening unit for a module on climate change for introductory-level college students.
  • This activity begins with a reading assignment that has embedded questions after each section. Students then take a reading comprehension quiz. Next, students further explore these topics via a gallery walk that allows students to rotate through different stations where they contribute ideas and input. During the gallery walk, students further explore the effects of climate change in these three locations, and they go on to examine positive and negative climate feedbacks. A guided class discussion helps reinforce the concepts. Questions to consider are provided to the students before the discussion so they have time to engage in higher-order thinking.
  • A study guide provides vocabulary words, recall questions, and conceptual questions for students to review.
  • Assessment methods are described, and an answer key is included.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • This activity is well thought out and carefully described. Each step of the process is thoroughly documented.
  • Some of the files are restricted access for instructors only. Instructors can fill out a form to gain access. Those that have a SERC account and are members of NAGT will have automatic access.

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

This activity is part of a larger unit on climate change called Climate of Change: Interactions and Feedbacks between Water, Air, and Ice.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS2.E1:The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

HS-ESS3.A1:Resource availability has guided the development of human society.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Stability and Change

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

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P8.1:Critically read scientific literature adapted for classroom use to determine the central ideas or conclusions and/or to obtain scientific and/or technical information to summarize complex evidence, concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.

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