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Scientific Consensus: A Tsunami of Evidence

National Center for Science Education

This is the first lesson in a series of 6 lessons about climate change from the National Center for Science Education. The "Tsunami of Evidence" module directly addresses common preconceptions and misconceptions, and provides students with a foundational understanding of the relationship between science and media.

This learning activity takes four to six 50 minute classes.

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 lesson is largely conceptual in nature and should be used to establish an common understanding of the scientific process (including peer review) and how scientific knowledge is integrated into our everyday lives. Although it does provide an understanding of certain climate-related topics, it does not teach explicit earth systems or climate change lessons.
  • This lesson is broken up into sections A-E. Consider taking one class period per section and assign leftover material as individual or group homework.
  • Teachers may want to consider guiding students through Project Drawdown (https://drawdown.org/) or other solution-based resources to help them avoid feeling hopeless or overwhelmed at the end of this unit.
  • From the lesson set: "It's recommended that students work through the NCSE Nature of Science lesson sets at some point during the year. However, if this is not possible, be sure to introduce students to FLICC, a framework for understanding science denial, prior to presenting this lesson set."
  • To really understand graphing, modeling, and peer-review, students and teachers will need more background than the lesson provides. Read through this unit and consider what your students will need to understand and work work through it. Some classes may need extensive preparation.

About the Content

  • This introductory lesson defines common vocabulary like misconception, peer review, greenhouse gases, anthropogenic, consensus, and logical fallacies through the FLICC framework.
  • This lesson uses evidence from reputable organizations like NASA and NOAA, and guides students in graphing and interpreting climate data. All primary resources are cited at the conclusion of the lesson.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This unit provides a great "hook" to engage students. Students are first introduced to the concept of outlier, scientific consensus, and peer review by evaluating a non climate related case study. Students then use a mix of videos, internet investigation, class discussion, simulations, question generation, and graphing to understand how data and graph interpretation are used to create and answer scientific questions.
  • Students should already have a foundational understanding of climate change and how earth systems (including the water/carbon/nitrogen cycle) and choice of energy production relate to climate change. All modules involving climate data or simulation are related back to the central principle of critical evaluation.
  • The investigations are well-structured and thorough.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • A teacher account must be created to access the complete lesson plan. All additional materials are accessible from a Google Drive and embedded links to these documents are included in the original lesson plan for easy access.
Entered the Collection: September 2023 Last Reviewed: June 2023

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