Demystify the data and create authentic learning experiences for your students.
As part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), students need to "ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century." Yet, many teachers have little to no formal training in how to teach about climate change. Along with the ever-changing research and the controversy that comes with it, it's understandable that some teachers may shy away from the content, or even prevent students from digging in too deep.
Some have suggested that teachers might be getting climate change all wrong. While teachers often can't rely on books to stay current with all the new research, digital resources can be an effective way to stay on top of such a dynamic field. Consider these practices when using technology to teach about climate change:
- Students must use models to understand the fundamental processes that help shape Earth's climate.
- Just as scientists have long argued the causes of global temperature rise, students should be holding those same debates.
- Students need hands-on time with data to practice interpreting real evidence and arriving at their own conclusions.
Here are five classroom-ready tools that incorporate these practices so you can help your students become true climate change scientists.
Give students a comprehensive look
MIT Climate Science, Risk & Solutions is an interactive, online textbook from MIT that can be used as a supplemental resource for high school teachers approaching the topic with their classes. The site offers a historical timeline, graphs, and images to tackle the science, and the slick interactive features will be engaging to teens. Students can scroll through the entire text, or jump among the topics, which are divided into sections: Climate Science, Climate Change, Risk, and Solutions. Each chapter uses different elements to engage students; read-aloud sections, interactive graphs, and short quizzes help break up the dense text.
Read our review of Climate Science, Risk & Solutions.
Explore satellite evidence
NASA Global Climate Change is a go-to site for beautiful expert climate content. While the site is mostly for reference, the well-designed content is engaging enough to make the experience rich and approachable. Beginners can get only the facts, while advanced learners can dig deep into the dynamic data; everyone will enjoy the visuals. Images of Change allows students to compare satellite images of glaciers for evidence of warming, and geoscience data will help students master the NGSS performance expectations.
Engage early learners
Students don't need to wait until middle school to learn about climate change, so NASA has created a site that will appeal to young learners. Climate Kids tackles topics similar to those on its companion site, NASA Global Climate Change, but amps up the engagement through cartoons and games. In addition to digital content, Climate Kids has resources to get kids building and designing. The Climate Change Time Machine interactive allows students to travel through time and see mapped evidence of sea-ice and carbon-emission changes.
Price: Free; toolkits available for purchase
The Global Oneness Project houses resources that explore life experiences around the world. One of their collections deals with the impact of climate change on people and communities. Through a series of films, photo essays, and articles, students can be witnesses to the ecological challenges affecting small island nations and other cultures. This collection not only provides evidence of a changing world but also helps build empathy toward other people.
Analyze real data
As part of the NGSS Science and Engineering Practice "Analyzing and Interpreting Data," students need to work with real data sets to better construct arguments and make meaning. Earth-Now is a hub for current climate data obtained from Earth satellites. Through the app, students can manipulate color scales on a 3D model of Earth and see up-to-date reports for air temperature, carbon dioxide, sea level, and other climate factors. Interpreting real evidence will help students make sense of potential global issues and can be a great supplemental tool in the classroom.
Our Climate Our Future motivates and empowers students to learn about and take action on climate change. Through videos, animations, activities, and more, students can study and discuss the science of climate change, the sources of the change's acceleration, the history of our planet's climate, actions already being taken, growing climate science fields, and what students themselves can do to help. The site teaches that all students can take action against further climate change.