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Climate Change & Science Education: A Workshop NOYCE/ VolsTeach STEM February 21, 2012. Barry W. Golden Assistant Professor, Science Education University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Phone disclaimer!. Is Climate Change Controversial?. What does the scientific community have to say?

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climate change science education a workshop noyce volsteach stem february 21 2012

Climate Change & Science Education: A WorkshopNOYCE/VolsTeach STEMFebruary 21, 2012

Barry W. Golden

Assistant Professor, Science Education

University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Phone disclaimer!

is climate change controversial
Is Climate Change Controversial?
  • What does the scientific community have to say?
  • NAS (2005): "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
  • AAAS (2006): “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society”.
climate change consensus science
Climate Change=Consensus Science?
  • IPCC (4th report, 2007):
  • “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal…”(p. 50)
  • “Most of the global average warming over the past 50 years is very likely due to anthropogenic GHG increases…” (p. 50)
consensus science
Consensus Science?
  • Hansen et al (2006):
    • global surface temperatures have increased by .2 degrees C/decade in the past 30 years;
  • Karl and Trenberth (2003):
    • The main source of global climate change is human-induced changes in atmospheric composition. (p. 1719)
  • Rosenzweig et al (2008):
    • “…increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone (p. 353)”.
consensus science1
Consensus Science?
  • Oreskes, 2004:
    • Scientific journal articles that counter the consensus:
      • 0 out of 928 studies in a ten year period
scientific outliers
Scientific Outliers?

where s the controversy at policy level tn hb 0368 sb0893
Where’s the controversy? At policy level?TN HB 0368/SB0893

“This bill prohibits (school systems/administrators) …from prohibiting any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught, such as evolution and global warming.”(from HB 0368 Bill Summary via ttp://

Rep. Bill Dunn, Knoxville

where s the controversy policy
Where’s the controversy?(Policy?)
  • “(Santorum) said the notion of global warming is not climate science but ‘political science.’(Associated Press, Feb. 20, 2012)”
the status of climate change in education
The status of Climate Change in Education
  • Is GCC and/or Global Warming currently being taught in US K-12 education?
  • Not much! [(If curriculum frameworks are a good indicator (Golden, 2009)];
  • But should we…?
should we teach gcc yes based on
Should we teach GCC? Yes, based on…
  • Culturally ubiquitous nature of GCC references;
  • The importance of policy decisions implied by issues concerning greenhouse gas emissions, etc.;
  • The multi-disciplinary nature of GCC!
  • NAS Science Frameworks include much about GCC;
  • NAS Frameworks ESS 3.D:
    • By the end of grade 8:
  • Human activities, such as the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in global warming.
    • TN, like most states, is a signatory to write their own Next Generation State Standards (NGSS) based upon those NAS frameworks;
generating arguments about
GeneratingArguments About

by Barry Golden, Jonathon Grooms,

Victor Sampson, and Robin Oliveri

Science Scope, upcoming edition

Paleoclimate record of CO2 and Temperature[]
round robin
  • Each group will select one person to explain their group’s conclusions;
  • The other members of the group will rotate to a different group to listen to their explanations and ask questions (this is your job to ask questions!);
  • As you do this, keep in mind these questions/points:
    • Be skeptical!
    • Do the data fit their explanations? All the data?
    • Are there alternative explanations?
after round robin
After Round-Robin:
  • Consider what you learned from other groups:
  • Use what you learned to modify your own thinking!
now let s address data which may allow us to infer causes of the patterns previously discussed
Now let’s address data which may allow us to infer causes of the patterns previously discussed…

(from http://www.skepticalsc ic.gif)

sunspots http data giss nasa gov gistemp graphs v3 fig a2 gif
Sunspots []
round robin 2
Round Robin # 2
  • Again, select someone to explain your group’s thinking (make it a different person from the first time around);
  • The others will rotate, listen, and ask good questions!
  • Be skeptical!;
  • Try to point out what may be simple statements of belief, as opposed to statements supported by evidence;
lesson debrief
Lesson Debrief
  • Other aspects of the unit:
    • More round robin experience;
    • Peer review in written form;
    • Gradual scaffolding of skills;
    • Class Debrief;
  • Why not simply just “tell” the “facts” about climate change (or any other science subject)?;

NAS Science Frameworks (July 2011)National Research Council. (2011). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

nas sci frameworks 1 scientific and engineering practices
NAS Sci Frameworks-1. Scientific and Engineering Practices
  • Asking Q’s (science) & defining problems (eng);
  • Developing & using models;
  • Planning & carrying out investigations;
  • Analyzing & interpreting data;
  • Using math/computational thinking;
  • Constructing explanations (sci) & designing solutions;
  • Engaging in argument from evidence;
  • Obtaining, evaluating, & communicating information…
nas sci frameworks 2 cross cutting concept s
NAS Sci Frameworks-2: Cross-cutting Concepts
  • Patterns;
  • Cause & Effect: Mechanism & explanation;
  • Scale, proportion, & quantity;
  • Systems & system models;
  • Energy & matter: Flows, cycles, & conservation;
  • Structure & Function;
  • Stability & change…
findings from my research golden 2011
Findings from my Research (Golden, 2011)
  • Students already “know” many disconnected “facts” about climate change. However, they haven’t connected them well to any causal model.
  • Students often loosely categorize climate change under a general ‘Environmental Phenomenon’ category;
  • Students see GCC as something either entirely “man-made” or entirely “natural”;
findings from my research
Findings from my Research
  • Students’ views on GCC moved towards scientific consensus;
  • Students who learn GCC via such a unit adopt a more scientific view of what is appropriate evidence;
    • i.e., shift from anecdotesense-making of graphic data, etc.
  • Students improved in their ability to detect patterns in data, including the ability to appropriately cite causation.
examples move towards consensus
Examples-move towards consensus
  • View of GW had moved towards consensus, esp. re: anthropogenic warming;
    • Nigella(C-M int): “half of it was natural and half of it was not natural because half of it was from what we caused to do, all the gases and things, the pollutants we put in the air and things from like factories and cars, vehicles.”
    • Bono (post int, p. 4): “They (Co2/Temp graphs) show that our emissions from greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide and stuff like that have increased a lot, which humans are definitely contributing to, and the surface temperature, it shows that that’s rising.”
examples move from anecdotal to scientific evidence focus
Examples: move from anecdotal to scientific evidence focus:
  • Everybody’s climate changes. It gets cold, it gets hot, they have different stages. Like for example, in the morning here it’s cold, then it warms up during the day and it gets cool during the evening (Bey Pre int, p. 2).
  • Well you don’t really notice it when you’re walking around on a regular basis, but when you sit down and look at the data you see the temperatures actually rising, but you don’t really notice it” (Bey Post int, p. 5).
examples shift in analysis
Examples: shift in analysis
  • Trends: Students grew in their ability to perceive patterns, extrapolate into the future, and infer causality from graphic data;
      • Bono: (pre-test): “Solar radiance (Sunspots) causes the Earth’s warming…because Graph 5’s data shows that the solar radiance is usually similar to earth’s surface temperature.
      • Bono (post): “: It (graph) makes it look like the CO2 and temperature are related. …And recently the CO2 spiked up a whole lot today and hopefully the temperature won’t follow up. But based on the previous data it probably will.
  • Belief identification seemed to be a key. He identified with his family’s opposition to global warming.
    • (Darko C-M int): “My…parents and my sister do not believe in global warming. I’m kind of on the track that they are.”
    • However, even this child changed to the extent that he cited graphic data to support his views, even when they were inaccurate!
to conclude
To Conclude:
  • Learning Climate Change in an argumentation-centered format is helpful to students in that:
  • It gives them experience in learning GCC by doing things common in the community of science:
    • Thinking about & making sense of relevant patterns in data;
    • Practicing the epistemic norms of science;
    • Appropriately extrapolating into the future, finding causation, etc., from data;
    • Collaborating on a team to make sense of phenomena;
    • Peer Review!
  • Emphasizes the “how we know” aspects of science (i.e., the ‘Nature of Science’;
fin thank you
FIN-Thank You!
  • QUESTIONS/Comments?
  • Interested in helping to explore student learning in this area? Sign the sheet!
  • Barry W. Golden