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Oceans and Atmosphere Example

Cheryl Manning, CLEAN

This unit allows students to investigate past changes in Earth's climate. Students first explore relationships in climate data such as temperature, solar radiation, carbon dioxide, and biodiversity. They then investigate solar radiation in more depth to learn about changes over time such as seasonal shifts. Students then learn about mechanisms for exploring past changes in Earth's climate such as ice cores, tree rings, fossil records, etc. Finally, students tie all these together by considering the feedbacks throughout the Earth system and reviewing an article on a past mass extinction event.

This series of 10 learning activities each take one 45 min class period.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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 approach is helpful for teachers in that it pulls together many different, high-quality resources to build a comprehensive unit. This unit is built around NGSS performance expectations.
  • Educators may want to consider which resources they will use and organize them in advance as it may get challenging to keep track of them. Links to all necessary resources are included in the unit.

About the Content

  • In this comprehensive unit, students: 1. Analyze data and graphs showing changes over time of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and temperature 2. Identify correlations between geologic, biologic and astronomical impacts with the conditions of the oceans and atmosphere 3. Model possible feedbacks between Earth's systems that create changes in the atmosphere and oceans 4. Explore mechanisms of climate change and the feedbacks.
  • As students visit different types of paleoclimate data sets, they become familiar with different time scales. For example, tree ring records show us changes on the order of years and decades, while older geologic records are more useful on longer time scales, such as thousands or millions of years.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - Resource connects what we can learn about the past to infer about the future of our oceans and atmosphere
    - Incorporates a large foundation of contextual information including: the Paleocene- Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), Milankovitch cycles, paleoclimate proxies (ice cores, sediments, lake varves), and the chemical constituents of the ocean and atmosphere
    - Introduces feedback cycles

About the Pedagogy

  • A tight linkage with NGSS shows teachers how to build lessons around NGSS performance expectations.
  • Several different instructional methods are used in this activity, such as data analysis, a jigsaw, and analysis of a professional media article.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • This unit utilizes other CLEAN resources and lays out a framework to follow, rather than a black-and-white lesson plan. It's assumed that teachers know how to use a jigsaw, and what the NGSS are all about.
Entered the Collection: August 2018 Last Reviewed: July 2018

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