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Understanding Global Change Interactive

Jessica Bean, Mark Nielsen, University of California Berkeley Museum of Paleontology

This interactive module allows students and educators to build models that explain how the Earth system works. The Click and Learn application can be used to show how Earth is affected by human activities and natural phenomena.

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

  • The teacher's guide (under Educator Materials) is well-organized and thorough: it introduces the activity's key concepts, learning goals, materials, teaching tips, and an example instructional sequence.
  • The example instructional sequence is very helpful, since it may take a lot of class time to explain how to use the system model at the end of the activity. The example suggests that students pair up to create their own models, though the activity could be done as individual work or in groups of 3-4.
  • The interactive activity may be best used as a capstone activity or assessment tool concluding a unit on how changes in our earth systems occur.
  • Instructors should try the interactive before using it in class to ensure it works as needed in their browser or on their computers.
  • The activity can be adapted to different levels based on complexity of model and detail expected in connections. Adaptable for advanced middleschoolers and undergraduates.

About the Content

  • In this activity, students learn about climate system relationships and build their own system model. The activity shows how essential climate processes and phenomena are connected.
  • The background information does a good job introducing examples of climate processes and how they affect each other. The science itself is covered very simply and the model is very conceptual - no real data are used or cited.
  • The activity and information are peer-reviewed and affiliated with universities, though no scientific references are provided.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The activity engages students to develop an understanding of processes and connections, but it does not clarify which processes are most important and it is not quantitative.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students should know how to use arrows to represent cause-and-effect relationships in a diagram and understand system relationships well enough to map the interactions between the components of that system.
  • The activity seems broadly appealing since students can customize their models by using a different background (e.g., underwater scene, aerial shot of their hometown, a forest) and focus on themes within climate change (e.g., the human impact, impacts on endangered species).
  • The interactive would be a strong assessment or end-of-unit activity since it requires background knowledge.
  • If adapted to the middle school level, it might need extra guidance on which variable(s) students should use/select to build their system.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Firefox or Chrome must be used for interactive to work, there is limited usability with Safari.
  • The student model can be downloaded as powerpoint slides, poster, or image.
  • If the internet is not available, students can still complete the activity offline with the Desktop App.
  • The Ocean Acidification Model (ZIP) file provided on the web page did not work. Instructors may want to create their own example.

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

Additional background information and ideas for how to create instructional units using this interactive can be found on the CLEAN site: Understanding Global Change
Entered the Collection: May 2021 Last Reviewed: March 2020

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