Engaging in Argumentation with a Science Seminar: Regional Climate in the Atacama Desert

Contributor
The Learning Design Group, The Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Professional Development , Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

Engaging in Argumentation with a Science Seminar: Regional Climate in the Atacama Desert is a three-day lesson in which students apply their understanding of how ocean surface temperatures, prevailing winds, and topography affect regional climates through participation in a Science Seminar and in designing a scientific argument. A PDF file contains student pages and a teacher’s guide. The guide, created by the Learning Design Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science, contains three pages of professional development for the teacher on general instructions for preparing for and engaging students in a Science Seminar and argumentation. Science background information is provided for the teacher.

Intended Audience

Learner
Educational Level
  • Middle School
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 6
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-ESS2-6 Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how patterns vary by latitude, altitude, and geographic land distribution. Emphasis of atmospheric circulation is on the sunlight-driven latitudinal banding, the Coriolis effect, and resulting prevailing winds; emphasis of ocean circulation is on the transfer of heat by the global ocean convection cycle, which is constrained by the Coriolis effect and the outlines of continents. Examples of models can be diagrams, maps and globes, or digital representations

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the dynamics of the Coriolis effect.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students use maps and diagrams (models) to look at the impact of sea surface temperature (unequal heating) and prevailing winds on regional climates in South America. To develop a model students could be asked to generalize the worldwide pattern of substantial rainfall along the equator and deserts located 30° north and south of the equator at the conclusion of the lesson. The Coriolis Effect isn’t addressed in the lesson, but resources such as NOAA and http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/earth/coriolis.html describe how the rotation of the Earth causes patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The lesson provides general instructions for scaffolding argumentation as well as specific modeling of the steps of developing an argument, and instructions for assisting students. Students are encouraged to use sentence starters and information from a Language of Argumentation poster to connect evidence to claims in writing. They work with partners to revise and strengthen their claims. In a Science Seminar students engage in oral arguments as to which claim is the strongest. The lesson doesn’t address solving problems, but a 3-page guide for generalizing argumentation to other lessons provides information that could be used to solve a problem in another lesson.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
During the Science Seminar, half of the class discusses the topic, while the other half listens and takes notes, then the groups switch. During the discussion students provide and receive critiques about their explanations for which claim is the strongest. They cite evidence and pose and respond to questions about relevant details. Procedures and models are not part of this lesson.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students use data from maps and diagrams to provide evidence to support a claim about the Atacama Desert.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students study maps and diagrams of surface ocean temperatures, prevailing winds, and topography to assess their impact on atmospheric flow patterns and the resulting climate in the Atacama Desert in South America. Teachers could help students ascertain the difference between weather and climate as well as the impact of solar energy (sunlight) on ocean surface temperatures. The impact of ice and living things on climate are not addressed in the lesson and would need to be addressed in other lessons. Oceanic flow patterns could be addressed using the lesson “Adopt a Drifter: Do Ocean Surface Currents Influence Climate?” - http://www.adoptadrifter.noaa.gov/lessons/ADP_LessonPlan_Climographs_Cook.pdf.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The movement of water in the atmosphere is illustrated in a diagram and in a map showing how prevailing winds, topography and ocean surface temperatures determine the amount of rainfall in the Atacama Desert. The study of ocean currents can be addressed using the lesson mentioned above in the other Weather and Climate Disciplinary Core Idea.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students examine the cause and effect relationships between ocean surface temperatures, topography and prevailing winds and the climate in South America. Cause and effect in designed systems would need to be addressed in another lesson.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students examine the patterns of ocean surface temperatures, topography and prevailing winds to determine their effect on the climate in South America, specifically the Atacama Desert. They engage in argumentation to determine which cause is best supported by evidence.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The lesson contains multiple grade-appropriate elements of the Science and Engineering Practices, the Crosscutting Concepts, and the Disciplinary Core Ideas. The three dimensions support argumentation from evidence to make sense of causes of regional climate differentiation. Argumentation involves asking questions, analyzing evidence, constructing explanations, and explaining their reasoning and using the Crosscutting Concepts of Cause and Effect as well as Patterns.

  • Instructional Supports: Students engage in a meaningful scenario based on real-world data. They develop a deeper understanding of the Science and Engineering Practice of Engaging in Argumentation as they develop claims based on evidence and discuss the strengths of the arguments in a Science Seminar. This process involves multiple practices and disciplinary core ideas as students express, clarify, and justify their claims as they respond to feedback. All three of the claims provided are legitimate, so students are correct in choosing any of the three – see the background information provided for the teacher as well as https://faculty.unlv.edu/landau/desertgeography.htm. The teacher’s guide provides both lesson-specific and general instructions for the development of argumentation skills. The source includes a three-page guide for teachers to use in generalizing the process of argumentation to other lessons; as well as short sections on a) scaffolding argumentation instruction to make the process accessible for all students, b) supporting English Language Learners, c) supporting writing, and d) formative assessment.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Students provide both oral and written claims supported by evidence. During the Science Seminar, the teacher and other students monitor student use of the three dimensions. A student guide is provided with an outline for them to use in choosing a claim, describing its evidence and justifying their reasoning. A peer feedback checklist on scientific argumentation and a rubric for writing a scientific argument is provided in the student pages. The Argument about the Atacama Desert and Comparing Two Arguments activities (Day 3) could be used as assessment tools of individual understanding.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: No technology is required for the lesson, although the teacher will want to display the maps on a classroom computer or provide electronic access so the color key is apparent.