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Rising Tides: Protect Your Home from the Waves

Kate Carter, National Center for Science Education

Warming oceans and melting landlocked ice caused by global climate change may result in rising sea levels. This rise in sea level combined with increased intensity and frequency of storms will produce storm surges that flood subways, highways, homes, and more. In this activity, visitors design and test adaptations to prepare for flooding caused by sea level rise.

This activity takes one 45-90 minute 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

  • For use after some front-loading about global warming and rising sea levels with provided extra resources or outside resources. Have students hypothesize what will happen to structures beforehand.
  • Preparation and organization of the materials beforehand is necessary.
  • One could add a 4th design challenge and implement student-made materials to represent innovative new construction technologies.
  • Younger grades K-3 would benefit by having an extra adult volunteer to help manage the materials and emptying of trays as students try out their designs. Instructor may want to consider modeling how to build the homes along the coastline.
  • For elementary learners, instructor may want to refer to the Elementary Teaching Strategies pages for strategies on framing impacts associated with climate change for younger learners.
  • Teachers could easily use a substitute material to represent structures instead of Monopoly houses.

About the Science

  • Students explore how climate change is causing sea levels to rise by developing a model that ensures houses remain safe from a storm surge or flooding.
  • The extra resources provide data and more understanding about how the rising sea levels are affecting the coastlines in the US. Graphs, maps, and models show how the sea levels are rising.
  • The engineering design process is well implemented to address the concept of engineering for sea level rise. Links are provided for three high-quality resources that support the impact of rising sea levels.
  • The activity introduces participants to the concept of adaptation to climate change impacts.
  • The poster activity links water expansion to sea level rise, but does not link it to melting glaciers.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Progressive hands-on engineering design challenges geared towards building an understanding of the potential effects of sea level rise and intensifying storms on human built structures.
  • No prerequisites listed or needed to complete the activity.
  • The facilitator's guide is clear and easily applied.
  • Easily applicable for diverse learners, but would need an ESL capable teacher for translation.
  • This is an activity designed for use in informal education events and situations, so it is not formatted as a complete formal education lesson. However, NGSS alignments are included.
  • The instructional video shows how to set up the model environment, and provided materials include a "price list" for the basic model elements to show that real world solutions have cost limitations.
  • This would appeal to K-12 with different levels of understanding and depth.
  • Learning objectives are misleading unless the extra resources are used to teach about global warming and rising sea levels. This activity focuses mostly on the design process as well as how people can help solve problems.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The scaffolding in this activity is easy to follow with step by step directions. There is a short training video that highlights the set up and walks viewers through the process. The training video refers to a box with materials that facilitators will receive, but note that instructors using this resource will need to source materials on their own.
  • Tablets/computers could be a limiting resource if playing the NOAA videos.
  • Access to clean water, water disposal, and clean-up materials is needed.
  • Includes links to website and video resources describing science concepts supported by the activity. Posters, handouts and additional materials are provided.
  • One of the resources for background is a scientific paper that most people won't have access to (need to have journal access). However, if you e-mail the first author and ask she may provide the paper, otherwise a longer version can be found here: https://bf2c3291-4d95-49de-ab39-63299848ac28.filesusr.com/ugd/66d8d1_64c2cd22707c48d5ac3919189b4c1075.pdf

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