Project-Based Climate Modules
Amphibian Phenology: Impact of Climate Change on Amphibian Phenology
Apples in NYS: Apple Orchards now and in the future, how climate change will affect the trees in New York State
Arctic Ice: Understanding Climate Induced Changes in Arctic Ice
Climate Connections: Exploring Actions that Affect our World in 2100
Dream Vacation: What is the greenhouse gas “cost” of your dream vacation?
Food Miles: How Far Did Your Cookies Travel?
Greenhouse Effect: Blackbody radiation and greenhouse effect
Lake Champlain Ice: Exploring Changes in the Ice Cover on Lake Champlain
Mitigation: Mitigating Global Climate Change: What will it take?
Power Profiler: Understanding Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electric Power Generation
This 4-part class is aimed at providing some basics about the science, causes, policies and very real social impacts of climate change. Attending all 4 classes is suggested, though not required.
Week 1: Climate Change: The Science Behind solar radiation, greenhouse gases, and greenhouse effect
Prof. Suresh Dhaniyala, Clarkson University
If you have heard about climate change, you have probably heard about greenhouse gases. Did you know that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are what make life comfortable on Earth? What are greenhouse gases and how are they important from a global climate point of view. This workshop will introduce attendees to basic atmospheric science governing Earth’s Climate and its relation to the gases in the atmosphere. We will use simple, interactive computer-animations to study and understand these critical climate science topics. Computers will be provided.
Week 2: Climate Change: Sources of greenhouse gases and your own carbon footprint
Prof. Susan Powers, Clarkson University
Did you know that the average US citizen is responsible for approximately 20 metric tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) each year, whereas the world average is only 4? Join us to learn more about sources of greenhouse gases and carbon footprint calculators, calculate your own footprint, and work with experts to help you learn how to interpret the results to most effectively reduce your carbon footprint. To make the most of this workshop, bring your 2012 year-end electricity and home heating bills and estimate the number of miles you drive each year. Computers will be available for your use.
Week 3: Climate Change: On the Front Lines
Prof. Jon Rosales, St. Lawrence University
Climate change is more pronounced and disruptive in the Arctic than anywhere else on the planet. It is especially obvious and disruptive to native people who live off the land. This class focuses on impacts of climate change with special attention given to coastal villages in Alaska. For the past four years, Dr. Rosales has been studying the biophysical and social impacts of climate change in two indigenous villages in Alaska on the front lines of climate change. This class summarizes what has been learned with his Alaskans Sharing Indigenous Knowledge (AKSIK) project and considers how the villages can receive aid in adapting to climate change.
Week 4: Climate Change: Integrating Science into the Policy Process
Prof. Stephen Bird, Clarkson University
How does public policy – which integrates politics, regulation, and science – work effectively for the public interest? This lecture examines the policy process and scientific uncertainty, and considers how the development of public policy should integrate science. A discussion of interests, consensus, certainty, and meta-analysis informs this discussion.
Prerequisites: quantitative and modeling skills (Matlab, Excel)
The primary objective of the course is to provide the necessary background that will permit engineering students to understand and accurately describe the workings of the Earth’s climate system, the interactions between the atmosphere, ocean, and climate, and human’s involvement in altering these processes. The specific goals of the course are to: 1: Educate students on the science behind Earth’s climate and the factors contributing to climate change; 2: Enable students to relate energy-use to climate change and identify opportunities for conservation, efficiency, and alternate energy sources; 3: Enable students to understand the current global policies as related to climate change; and, 4: Inform students of available data sets on global climate and educate them on their use for climate studies.
The highly quantitative course uses project-based experiences to allow each student an opportunity to complete a data acquisition/modeling project of their own design to show correlations between human activities, current atmospheric concentrations and resulting ecosystem change. For example, the global spatial and temporal distributions of greenhouse gases, clouds, aerosols, radiation, etc. Students use computational programming tools (Matlab) in combination with mapping tools (Google Maps API) to quantify, analyze, and display geographical variations of integrated and averaged values of quantities studied.
Investigators from Clarkson University, Potsdam NY, are teaming up with researchers from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Albany NY, on an exciting new project funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The project builds on existing strong programs in energy literacy at both institutions. Clarkson University has developed award-winning energy curricula for middle and high school students and is currently assessing the efficacy of project-based pedagogical approaches to increase energy literacy. NYSERDA has an effective model for disseminating energy education programs to K-12 teachers from across the state.
This project involves the creation and dissemination of new climate change curricular modules that are based on NASA data and models. The activities are all based on the use of project-based learning experiences to integrate across STEM disciplines and engage a broader range of diverse learners. The project extends across all three NASA goals related to improved teaching and learning about global climate change, use of NASA data and models, and improving the preparation of undergraduate students for careers relevant to global climate change. Our three-tiered approach, described below, is impacting audiences ranging from middle and high school students to college students to STEM teachers.
Undergraduate class: A new class, “Global Climate Change: Science, Engineering, and Policy,” was developed specifically for engineering students at Clarkson University. This class is providing undergraduates and graduate students from all engineering disciplines with the basic understanding of the science of climate change through the use of NASA data and models.
Summer institute for curricular module development: Middle school STEM and high school earth and environmental science teachers from across New York are developing project-based learning experiences and lessons that highlight and integrate NASA earth observation system data and models. In the summer 2010 workshop, teachers created project-based modules at the appropriate level for their students. These modules are being piloted by participating teachers during the 2010-2011 academic year. Revised modules will be adapted for the second summer institute, in which experienced teachers will assist with training and education of a larger group of teachers.
State-wide dissemination of climate change modules: Using a training and dissemination model developed by NYSERDA, the modules will be disseminated through a state-wide Climate Change Conference for Teachers, regional workshops, one-day workshops, and nationally/internationally through on-line tutorials.
Our assessment plan includes metrics for the numbers and types of students and teachers impacted as well as measurement of the change in STEM attitudes and climate literacy. We are developing a Climate Literacy Assessment Survey, which will provide a quantitative measure of students’ climate literacy based on the guidelines established in the Essential Principles of Climate Science Literacy, described fully in the Climate Literacy Handbook (McCaffrey, 2009) and summarized in the booklet Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Sciences (US Global Change Research Program/Climate Change Science Program; March 2009).
The undergraduate class and components of the teacher workshops will continue beyond the three years of the proposed project. Our project will include evaluation and dissemination of these modules across the state through teacher training, project evaluation, and distribution to teachers around the country and the world through the World Wide Web.
Increasing Climate Literacy is critically important for all citizens to enable informed decisions and personal choices that consider the effects on climate. McCaffrey et al. established seven guiding principles of climate literacy that formulate the basis for most of our project assessment plan.
The Essential Principles of Climate Science Literacy
1. The Sun is the primary source of energy for Earth’s climate system.
2. Climate is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system.
3. Life on Earth depends on, is shaped by, and affects climate.
4. Climate varies over space and time through both natural and man-made processes.
5. Our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling
6. Human activities are impacting the climate system.
7. Climate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives
Our assessment plan includes metrics for the numbers and types of students and teachers impacted as well as measurement of the change in STEM attitudes and climate literacy. During the initial stages of the project we are developing and piloting a Climate Literacy Assessment Survey, which will provide a quantitative measure of students’ climate literacy based on the guidelines established above .
The undergraduate class and components of the teacher workshops will continue beyond the three years of the proposed project. Our project will include evaluation and dissemination of these modules across the state through teacher training, project evaluation, and distribution to teachers around the country and the world through the World-wide Web.
 McCaffrey, M. (Lead Author); C.J. Cleveland, S.B. Wise, M. Surface, K. Trenbath (Contributing Authors); S.C. Nodvin (Topic Editor) (2010). "Climate Literacy Handbook." In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [First published in the Encyclopedia of Earth May 15, 2009; Last revised January 5, 2010;. <http://www.eoearth.org/article/Climate_Literacy_Handbook>