Eduhelpnet World Education Forum Australia Science Teachers Association Tasmania

What’s climate change got to do with me?


This learning sequence focuses on developing students’ understanding of the positive and negative impacts that they and others can have on climate change.

It considers the causes and implications of climate change, the methods by which data is collected and used by scientists and how this data may be used to influence human behaviour.

Year level/s: 7/8 Standard: 4

Focus Essential

World futures - Understanding systems

Key element outcome: Understands the interdependency of systems and their function within local and national communities.

Supporting Essentials

World futures – Creating sustainable futures

Thinking – Reflective thinking

Communicating – Being information literate

Throughlines

  1. Students will understand that, ecologically, the Earth needs to be considered as one biosphere rather than separate systems.

What is the biosphere concept and why is it important?

  1. Students will understand some of the ways in which human activity at a local level can have global implications.

How can local activity have a global impact?

Understanding goals

  1. Students will understand what is meant by the term ‘greenhouse effect’, including what causes this effect and how scientists measure it.

What is the greenhouse effect and how do we get information about it?

Introductory performances

UGs

Performances of understanding

Ongoing assessment and feedback from performances of understanding

Students will need a copy of ‘ Understanding greenhouse science frequently asked questions’. This publication can be read online or downloaded from: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/science/faq/

Some schools may have hard copies of this publication.

You can dowload a .pdf copy here.

Assessment of, for and as learning

Throughout this learning sequence, ask students to maintain a reflective journal. Thoughts can be recorded in it as the teacher requests or when individual students wish to. The journals will allow both teacher and students to reflect on what has been learnt and what clarification is still needed.

1

Have students brainstorm things that keep them warm, e.g. blankets, curtains, sitting behind a window. Students may make visual diagrams to demonstrate their ideas and share these with others. Students could brainstorm in small groups and then share ideas through a class discussion.

If necessary, the teachers should help move the discussion forward to the bigger picture.

Assessment for learning

Use students’ responses to gauge their level of understanding of the role of the Sun and the Earth’s atmosphere in allowing life to exist on Earth. Provide ongoing feedback to students during the whole class and small group discussion and intervene as required.

1, 3

Read and discuss p.5 of Understanding Greenhouse Science with the class.

Show students a video or video segment which discusses how humans are impacting on greenhouse gas emissions.

Conduct focused teaching on ozone depletion – to avoid confusion between the concepts of ‘greenhouse effect’ and ‘ozone depletion’. There is some information on p.15 of Understanding Greenhouse Science.

Have students participate in a discussion of ozone depletion – causes and effects, what could be done about it.

Ask students to make notes in their journals that explain the greenhouse effect in their own words. Tell students that their notes should:

  • explain the diagrams
  • describe why the greenhouse effect is an important natural phenomenon
  • comment on human impact and recent changes in the greenhouse effect
  • identify the most important greenhouse gases.

Assessment for learning

On the basis of their journal notes and contribution to class discussions, assess the degree to which students can:

§ describe the greenhouse effect phenomenon

§ recognise familiar examples of greenhouse gas emissions

§ recognises differences between natural and human impacts.

Provide ongoing feedback to students during the discussions, and on reading their journal entries, and intervene as required.

Guided inquiry performances

1, 2

Organise for students to interview people from an older generation to collect stories of how older people think the weather has changed in their lifetime. Depending on students’ previous experience, focused teaching on interview techniques may be appropriate.

Schedule students to share these stories with the class.

As each story is shared, have students think-pair-share gl any beneficial or detrimental effects that they think this change may have had. Students could do a PMI.

If time permits, have students consult meteorological records to determine if the records provide support for changes in the weather having/not having actually occurred.

Ask students to reflect in their journals on the implications of some of the changes in weather that were identified in the above interviews. For example, what would a reduction in rainfall mean to the people and areas affected?

Assessment for learning

On the basis of students’ presentations, assess the degree to which students have considered and reflected on the possible consequences of the climate change identified in the interviews. Provide students with feedback and intervene if required.

Assessment as learning

Have students reflect on the purpose of this activity and how it has given them a greater understanding of perceived climate change at a local level.

2

As a class, begin to develop a Futures wheel gl on a display board. This futures wheel should show some of the possible consequences/implications of climate change. The class futures wheel should be kept on a display board, so that students can add to it as the learning sequence progresses. A futures wheel is a graphic organiser that places a future event in a circle in the centre of a document. Consequences from this first event are placed in a second ring of circles, then a third, and so on. The futures wheel identifies expanding consequences.

Assessment for learning

Use students’ additions to the wheel to assess their understanding of possible consequences of climate change, and the interdependency of human behaviour and the environment. Provide students with ongoing feedback and intervene if required.

Assessment as learning

Have students reflect on how the Futures wheel has assisted them to realise some of the implications of future climate change for them personally.

2, 3

Using library and internet resources ask students to research the implications of some specific example of things that are being affected by climate change. For examples of possible research topics, see the Climate change research task sheet.

Following their research, ask students to produce a two page report or a PowerPoint describing what they have learnt from their research. This should be presented to the class orally. A skills lesson on note taking skills/strategies might be useful.

Assessment for learning

On the basis of their presentations, assess students’ ability to:

§ understand the impact of climate change

§ understand the impact of human activity.

During their research and report preparation, provide students with ongoing feedback and intervene if required.

Assessment as learning

Have students reflect on how this activity has assisted them to understand some of the implications of climate change on a global level.

1, 2, 4

Use the graphs on p.6-7 of Understanding Greenhouse Science to introduce the idea of ‘uncertainty’. A prior lesson on interpretation of graphs may be needed.

Using the graph on p 7, help students to understand the relationship between CO2 and temperature.

Discuss the graph on p.15 with students, considering the different predictions about sea level and global warming.

Have students use the information they have learned from studying the above graphs to complete the worksheet Interpreting graphs 1.

Organise a class discussion on the concept of ‘uncertainty’. What consequences does uncertainty about climate change have at local and global levels?

Allow time for students to add information gained from this work to the ‘Futures wheel’.

Extension:

Have students complete Interpreting Graphs 2 sheet. The relevant graphs are on p.14 of the IPCC report Climate Change 2001 The Scientific Basis, and can be downloaded from:

http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/pdf/WG1_TAR-FRONT.PDF

Assessment for learning

Assess students’ ability to:

§ explain what the graphs are showing with respect to the greenhouse effect and climate change

§ understand and explain why we can’t predict future climate change with certainty

§ consider the consequences of future climate change being uncertain in nature, from the point of view of humans implementing solutions.

Provide ongoing feedback to students during discussions and intervene as required.

1, 2, 3

Have students complete the Global warming and rising sea levels activity sheet.

Organise a class discussion around the observations modelled in the experiments - ice melting, sea level rise and global warming.

Assessment for learning

On the basis of their response and contributions to class discussion, assess the extent to which students:

§ compare and discuss the implications of the results that they obtained in these activities

§ complete the prediction sections of their worksheets.

Provide ongoing feedback and intervene as required.

Assessment as learning

Have students reflect on how this activity has assisted them to understand some of the implications of climate change on a global level.

2

Introduce students to Google Earth, and have them use it to get a feeling for where there are low lying countries. Google Earth can be downloaded from : http://earth.google.com/

Conduct a lesson focussing on introducing students to contour lines. You might like to do this using a set of Tasmaps of your local area.

Have students visit The List website: http://www.thelist.tas.gov.au/. Ask them to select a particular spot that they are familiar with, such as their home or favourite beach. Then ask students to print out a map of this area and mark where new sea levels will be if climate change proceeds as predicted.

The Sea level rise sheet has instructions for this activity, including ones on how to use this website.

Assessment for learning

Assess the extent to which students are able to predict how rising sea levels will affect their chosen area. Provide ongoing feedback as students work through this activity and intervene as required.

Assessment as learning

Have students reflect on how this activity has assisted them to understand some of the implications of climate change on a local level.

2

Visit a coastal area. Show students how to use string and spirit levels to measure up 9 cm and then 88 cm. From this, ask them to comment on the impact that these predicted sea level rises would have on the area in question.

Assessment for learning

On the basis of informal discussion, assess students’ ability to predict the impact of future sea level rises. Provide ongoing feedback and intervene as required.

Assessment as learning

Have students reflect on how this activity has assisted them to understand some of the implications of climate change on a local level.

1, 3

Provide students with a copy of a carbon cycle diagram that has had the arrows removed.

Provide focused teaching or notes that will allow students to complete the carbon cycle diagram using arrows and colour, and to then describe the carbon cycle in their own words.

Organise a class discussion on the carbon cycle – What is it? How important is it? How does/might human activity affect it? Etc.

Assessment for learning

Use students’ responses and contribution to class discussion to determine their understanding of the carbon cycle and its importance. Provide ongoing feedback and intervene as required.

1, 2

Have students participate in a field study, estimating where CO2 emissions will be high and where they will be low. The teacher may select the location and area, e.g. school, community. The Local Carbon Cycles sheet could be used here.

Students should be able to colour in a map of their study area where they apply the same colours from the original carbon cycle diagram, to estimate sources and sinks of carbon dioxide. They should then discuss the implications of their findings.

Assessment for learning

Use students’ response to identify the extent to which they have developed an understanding of the carbon cycle. Provide ongoing feedback and intervene as required.

3, 4

Using the information on p.8 of Understanding Greenhouse Science as a basis for information, have students engage in a class discussion speculating on the likely causes of the rise in greenhouse gases (eg industry, cars, population growth) and how further rises might be prevented.

Introduce the idea of exponential growth in populations. This could be done by having students draw up a chart similar to the Population Tree sheet, showing the growth that will occur in their family if they and future generation have a particular number of children.

Have students work in pairs to draw a tree diagram based on a scenario of each person having 3 children for the next three generations. Students then speculate about the resources required by this population in 2100. Students should consider the resources mentioned during class discussion. Consider what impact this demand is likely to have on greenhouse gases/climate change. Each group reports their findings to the class.

Alternatively, different groups could explore different scenarios. If everyone in the class had three children, how many extra people would there be in the world after 1, 2, 3, etc. generations? What if they each had two children? What if half had two and half had three? etc.

Assessment for learning

Use students’ responses to identify their level of understanding of the greenhouse effect and its causes. Provide ongoing feedback to students during whole class and small group discussions and intervene as required.

Assessment as learning

Have students reflect on how this activity has assisted them to understand some of the implications that continued population growth has for climate change.

3

Select activities that will lead to some discussion about alternative sustainable energy sources in daily life, such as nuclear, hydro wind, solar. These should be compared with non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels.

Organise a class discussion around the advantages and disadvantages of various energy sources.

Have students reflect on their energy consumption as individuals.

Assessment for learning

Identify students’ levels of understanding of the impact of energy production has on climate change. Provide ongoing feedback to students during whole discussions and intervene as required.

1, 2, 3

Conduct a teacher-led discussion to give students an understanding of how scientists use data such as that from ice-cores, tree growth or coral to measure the history of CO2. This will probably need to include some focused teaching.

Where appropriate, invite a scientist from the University of Tasmania or CSIRO to come and talk about their experiences collecting such data. The scientist might be able to show photos of their trips to Antarctica and the ice cores, for example. Tasmania is one of the world leading centres for this work. An appropriate contact might be the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre at the university.

3, 4

Have students use one of the carbon calculator websites, to calculate their personal or global carbon emissions

and/or

have students fill out a checklist, such as that in the book Greenhouse Alert! – A Learner’s Handbook to develop their awareness that they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Ask students to record their observations and thoughts on their individual greenhouse gas emissions in their journals.

Ask students to compare their results with the results provided from another developed country and with results from a developing country. It may be possible for the class to establish electronic contact with a class form another country and to discuss the reasons for differences in their results.

Arrange a class discussion on how fair it is that developed countries produce more greenhouse gas emissions than developing countries and on the difficulties that developing countries face in trying to respond effectively to climate change e.g. crop failure and rising sea levels.

From their carbon calculator have students draw a bar graph on the

sources of their own carbon emissions

and/or:

from the information about comparative carbon emissions, students draw a pie chart

and/or:

students may draw a bar graph comparing carbon emissions of other countries.

Ask students to use their journals to reflect on how their emissions may compare to someone with a different lifestyle. Ask them to also consider how they might be able to modify their lifestyle to reduce their impact.