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Student Exploration of the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States

Dana Brown Haine, Stefani Dawn, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

This module follows the 5E instructional model to promote student discovery and learning about the complex interactions between climate change, the environment and human health. Students describe the impacts of changing climatic conditions on human health with emphasis on vulnerable populations and apply systems thinking to create a visual model of various health implications arising from climate change.

This learning activity takes two to three 45 minute class periods.

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

  • Teachers may want to have multiple versions of the readings available for different reading levels within a classroom.
  • Linked reading for students ranges from full report to abbreviated brochures. Teachers are offered several choices on the instructional design based on time and student reading level. Several topics or one topic can be addressed based on student interest, instructional time and desired depth and breadth of content.

About the Science

  • This activity allows students to investigate the US Global Change Research Program's 2016 report, "The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment". Students consider how environmental conditions such as flooding or drought create environmental hazards which impact health effects. They also investigate how climate change will affect environmental conditions and therefore health outcomes. Groups explore the different chapters of the report, making conceptual models of these connections. These are put together to showcase how complex the system is when considering how climate change impacts public health.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Provides a lot of good scientific information, has a well laid out lesson plan where students have to engage with the material and use systems thinking. I wonder if all high school science courses could use this lesson plan as the material is so interdisciplinary that it would not fit into many standard high school science classes.

About the Pedagogy

  • This activity allows students to read (at different levels) a scientific report and try to synthesize information from that report. They do so through conceptual models and discussion-based activities. The various options for reading materials and evaluation strategies allow teachers to implement this in a variety of classrooms with diverse time frames. In the final evaluation activity, students can write summaries, evaluate mitigation and adaptation strategies, or develop their own resilience building project, adding to the place-based project nature of this activity.
  • The extension activities suggest a place-based project for students to develop a resilience building project for their community, allowing many different learners to consider the relevance to their own lives. This strategy of place-based projects has been shown to be engaging for culturally diverse audiences.
  • The authors also provide the reading materials at various levels of reading ability to allow for more students to participate.
  • Many variations on instructional pathways are provided, including depth of content exploration, accommodations for learning modalities and styles, and links to companion materials to support the learning progression.
  • Prior knowledge and misconceptions are addressed. Small group work, enhances the class learning. Students create visuals, models and graphic organizers of the content to structure learning and share new knowledge. Assessments are varied and allow for diverse learning styles.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • This activity clearly lays out all the details teachers will need to implement this activity. The authors provide various options throughout the module, which helps teachers implement the activity in diverse classrooms.
  • Computers for students are useful but materials are downloadable and printable.

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

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