People and Climate Change: The Data Is In

Contributor
Population Connection
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Article , Data
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

In the lesson “People and Climate Change: The Data Is In,” students interpret information in various formats (graphic, written, and visual) and draw conclusions based on the data. They hypothesize cause and effect relationships between human population growth and increasing greenhouse gas emissions and hypothesize correlational relationships among temperature rise, ice melt, and sea level rise. As they examine various pieces of information, they group the evidence and link relationships.

The students analyze 14 data bank items, so the lesson may take several days to complete.

The teacher needs a Newsela account to access two of the resources. They will also need to provide color copies of some of the data bank pages and provide computer access for pairs of students. The article “After Losing Huge Amount, Greenland Ice is Melting Faster Than Ever” is available at https://newsela.com/read/greenland-iceloss/id/13769. The second article “Earth is Getting Hotter, Scientists Say, Pointing to 2014’s Record Warmth” cannot be found using the search function in Newsela, but can be found here - http://missushanks.weebly.com/uploads/3/7/8/5/37853861/earth_is_getting_hotter.pdf.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 12
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 9
  • High School
  • Grade 6
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 8
  • 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

HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

Clarification Statement: Examples of Earth systems to be considered are the hydrosphere, atmosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, and/or biosphere. An example of the far-reaching impacts from a human activity is how an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide results in an increase in photosynthetic biomass on land and an increase in ocean acidification, with resulting impacts on sea organism health and marine populations.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include running computational representations but is limited to using the published results of scientific computational models.

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

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students weigh evidence of the relationship between human population, levels of greenhouse gases, and the rise in global temperatures over the past century and beyond. Emphasis is on the major role that human activities play in causing the rise in global temperatures and how that change affects the relationships among Earth systems.

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.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students examine 14 pieces of evidence relating to climate change. Students weigh evidence of the relationship between human population, levels of greenhouse gases, and the rise in global temperatures over the past century and beyond. Evidence includes articles, graphs, and maps of population growth, global temperatures, sea level rise, and atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases. Emphasis is on the major role that human activities play in causing the rise in global temperatures.

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
Students analyze data in maps, charts, graphs, and news articles to make claims about climate change. The data provided are from valid and reliable resources.

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

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students examine maps, charts, graphs, and news articles to identify temporal relationships between population growth and greenhouse gases and the changes occurring on Earth. Various spans of time are addressed. Changes over a 400,000 year span are examined using ice core data. Changes over the last 140 years are examined in maps showing variations in global surface temperatures. Spatial relationships are examined when students compare photos of glaciers in Alaska.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students analyze data related to the ocean and the atmosphere and modifications that result from human activities and the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
After examining the data sets, the students group the information into categories and connect the correlative relationships between human activities and the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuel and the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature. The portion of the Disciplinary Core Idea on reducing both the impact of climate change and human vulnerability would need to be addressed in another activity, such as “What is the Future of Earth’s Climate?” which is reviewed in the NSTA Hub at http://ngss.nsta.org/Curator/ViewResource.aspx?ResourceID=132.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
After examining empirical data in the data sets, students are asked about the link between population growth and the rise in greenhouse gases in the discussion questions. Students hypothesize correlational relationships among temperature rise, ice melt, and sea level rise. The questions do not directly address whether the relationships are causal or correlational, but the teacher could explain the difference between the two types of relationships and ask students to make a claim about whether they are cause and effect or a correlation.

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 population growth and greenhouse gases in activities such as the World Population History simulation. For example, students examine the impact of greenhouse gases on Earth’s surface temperatures in ”Global Temperatures,” sea level change in “Relative Sea Level Change Along U.S. Coasts,” and ice melt in the Antarctica simulation. The lesson doesn’t address designed systems.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Making sense of the phenomena of climate change drives student learning. Students use the Science and Engineering Practice of Analyzing and Interpreting Data and the Crosscutting Concept of Cause and Effect to examine the Disciplinary Core Idea related to climate change. The teacher will need to revise the questions to make the activity truly three-dimensional. For example asking about the cause and effect relationship between greenhouse gases and climate change. Students’ prior experiences related to climate change are mentioned in the introduction, but are not a key component of the lesson. The authors mention that students should have a working knowledge of the causes and impacts of climate change prior to the lesson. The teacher could ask students to share their prior knowledge in a class discussion.

  • Instructional Supports: The lesson engages students in authentic climate change phenomena through media representations that reflect the practice of science as experienced in the real world. The lesson uses scientifically accurate and grade-appropriate scientific information, phenomena, and representations to support students’ three-dimensional learning. The lesson does not include suggestions for how to connect instruction to the students' own experiences, community or culture. The teacher should ask at the conclusion of the lesson how climate change impacts their region as well as implications for the future. They could also use the lesson mentioned above in the Disciplinary Core Idea section as a follow-up. The lesson provides opportunities for students to express and justify their ideas. The author suggests that the students show each piece of evidence to the teacher for a quick check before getting another piece of data. The lesson provides some guidance for teachers to support differentiated instruction by including suggestions for simplifying the lesson for younger students. The same modifications may work for students who are English language learners, have special needs, or read well below the grade level. The follow-up activities could be used by students with high interest or who have already met the Performance Expectations to develop deeper understanding of the practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Students provide observable evidence of using the three dimensions while completing the data sheets in pairs, in answering the assessment question and in completing the Follow-up Activities. Students are using the Practices with Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts to make sense of climate change data. Formative assessment throughout the lesson allows the teacher to evaluate student learning to inform instruction as long as the students’ work is checked before they move onto another piece of evidence. No rubrics or scoring guidelines are provided, although suggested answers are given for the discussion questions. The question, data analysis methods, vocabulary, representations, and examples are accessible and unbiased for all students.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The lesson does not incorporate technological interactivity. Students are required to use a computer in order to access certain data pieces. The teacher needs to access two articles online.