Next Generation Climate - Grades 6-8 - Lesson 2

Contributor
Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Curriculum , Instructor Guide/Manual
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.

Description

Next Generation Climate contains six lessons on climate change for middle school students. In the curriculum, the students investigate causes of global temperature change, research the major repercussions of climate change, and find out how they can monitor and minimize those repercussions. The PDF is free for downloading from the Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy web page.

This review will focus on Lesson 2, other lessons will be featured in other reviews. In Lesson 2, students focus on data analysis, engage in argumentation from evidence, and evaluate information. In the first part of the lesson, they study the greenhouse effect by playing a game that demonstrates how solar radiation is transformed into heat and may be captured by carbon dioxide. Students determine how human population increase and per-capita consumption are contributing to the rise in global temperature and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere when human impacts are added to the game.

Students then look at various graphs such as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, greenhouse emissions, world population graphs, and solar activity over time. Working in groups, they construct an argument using the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning format to answer the question of why Earth’s climate is changing. They compare multiple arguments, and analyze or interpret the facts presented by other groups.

As the concluding activity, students investigate and write about the human versus natural influences on the climate and make connections to the data provided in the graphs.

 

Intended Audience

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

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.

Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence include grade-appropriate databases on human populations and the rates of consumption of food and natural resources (such as freshwater, mineral, and energy). Examples of impacts can include changes to the appearance, composition, and structure of Earth’s systems as well as the rates at which they change. The consequences of increases in human populations and consumption of natural resources are described by science, but science does not make the decisions for the actions society takes.

Assessment Boundary: none

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

Tips for Including the Performance Expectation
In the Greenhouse Effect Game, the students are introduced to the effects of per capita consumption of natural resources on the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Although the increase in human population isn’t directly addressed, the teacher can ask about its impact as the “What do humans do?” cards are drawn. Students work in groups to analyze data in graphs including the levels of heat-trapping gasses, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over the last 800,000 years, world population levels since 1950, carbon emissions since 1950, and energy consumption in the US since 1776. In different groups, they compile 4 pieces of evidence in a Discussion Diamond worksheet. Individually, they write a claim, provide evidence, and explain their reasoning to construct an argument showing how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems. The Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning (CER) Framework is a research-based instructional strategy that assists students in communicating and justifying their ideas. It provides structure for students to develop their arguments.

MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.

Clarification Statement: Examples of factors include human activities (such as fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and agricultural activity) and natural processes (such as changes in incoming solar radiation or volcanic activity). Examples of evidence can include tables, graphs, and maps of global and regional temperatures, atmospheric levels of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, and the rates of human activities. Emphasis is on the major role that human activities play in causing the rise in global temperatures.

Assessment Boundary: none

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

Tips for Including the Performance Expectation
Students’ present their interpretation of data from graphs providing evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century. Other students are to ask two questions during each presentation to clarify the evidence provided. The teacher may need to model the types of questions to be asked. A resource the teacher might find useful can be found at http://www.indiana.edu/~global/deliberation/Handouts/CLARIFYING%20AND%20PROBING%20QUESTIONS%20HANDOUT%20STEP%202%20DEFINE.pdf.

Science and Engineering Practices

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

Tips for Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students present oral arguments in groups supported by empirical evidence from the graphs provided. They employ scientific reasoning to support an explanation for the phenomenon of climate change. The lesson doesn’t ask students to refute an explanation, just to support an explanation with evidence. The lesson is designed to strengthen arguments not disprove explanations. Graphical models are used, but not developed. Solutions to the problem are not addressed in this lesson, but monitoring and minimalizing climate change are the focus of Lesson 6.

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

Tips for Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The students critically examine scientific data in graphical form. The graphs were obtained from various sources (US Environmental Protection Agency, National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee, etc.) and are adapted for classroom use. Students use the data to determine the central ideas and obtain scientific information to describe patterns in and evidence about the natural world. Evidence in designed worlds is addressed to some extent in later lessons when students discuss solutions to climate change. Three scientific texts are provided in the Extension activities for students to examine.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Tips for Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Data on carbon dioxide emissions, changes in world population and energy consumption of petroleum, natural gas, and coal address the first part of this Disciplinary Core Idea. The teacher would have to ask students about human activities and technologies that may be used to mitigate negative impacts on Earth.

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

Tips for Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In this lesson students examine how human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature. Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability are the focus of later lessons in the unit.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Tips for Including the Crosscutting Concept
The final activity in Lesson 2 is the analysis of a graph showing the separation of human and natural influences on climate. The cause and effect relationship of the human factors (energy consumption, population growth, etc.) and the climate change are used to predict future climate change. Cause and effect relationships in designed systems are part of lesson 6.

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

Tips for Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students examine various factors affecting the stability of Earth’s climate. Relatively sudden events such as the rapid increase in the level of carbon dioxide and the doubling of Earth’s population in the last 50 years are instrumental in climate change. These are not rapid when compared to the life span of a human, but the graphs show how rapid the rate of change is within that time span. Long-range trends are examined as well – in the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels for the last 800,000 years.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Lesson 2 of the Next Generations Climate unit addresses multiple grade-appropriate elements of the Science and Engineering Practices, the Disciplinary Core Ides and the Crosscutting Concepts. Students use the Practices of engaging in argumentation and obtaining, evaluating and communicating information to examine the Crosscutting Concepts of cause and effect relationships in and the stability of Earth’s climate system. Other elements of the three dimensions were used as well, but were not discussed in this review for the sake of brevity. The Science and Engineering Practices of asking questions and developing and using models and the Crosscutting Concepts of patterns, systems and system models, and energy and matter were also used.

  • Instructional Supports: The lesson engages students in the study of authentic graphical data in order to create arguments about climate change based on the evidence. The data provided was relevant to middle school students. A lot of data was shared, but having students collaborate in groups provided opportunities to make sense of each piece of data and through argumentation to grasp the big picture. The student’s understanding of the process of developing an argument was supported through the use of the Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning Framework. Students shared their interpretations of the phenomena and the Discussion Diamond process allowed them to clarify and justify their thinking. Students are asked if additional information is needed to support their argument and whether they would revise their claim at the conclusion of the activity. Supports for differentiated instruction were not provided, although with students work in groups would assist some students with language or mathematics difficulties. The teacher can modify the amount of data to be analyzed or provide more scaffolding in the CER framework such as sentence starters. Extension activities are suggested for students wanting to pursue more information about climate change.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The lesson elicits observable evidence of three-dimensional learning, Students use the practices and crosscutting concepts to develop an argument about causes of climate change. The worksheet asks students to write claims, evidence, and reasoning statements to address changes in Earth’s global temperature. The Discussion Diamond worksheet guides students through the presentation of pieces of evidence, the asking of questions to clarify information, and the compilation of evidence. Formative assessment is embedded throughout the lesson in worksheets that the teacher can use to assess student progress. There are no rubrics or scoring guidelines for interpreting student performance. Assessment of student proficiency is evaluated through peer review in group collaboration when students listen and ask clarifying questions. Since this is the second of six lessons, more formative and summative assessment tools may be provided in other lessons.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: No technology is required to complete this lesson.