The Science of Climate Change: Energy Budget Mini-Bundle

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Experiential Learning Depot
Grade Levels
9th - 12th, Homeschool
Formats Included
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21 pages
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Easel Activities Included
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    This bundle is a great opener to a larger unit on the science of climate change, which focuses specifically on NGSS ESS2-4 - Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of the Earth’s systems results in changes in climate.

    This bundle includes two student-directed resources on the solar energy budget as it relates to climate change. Students will start with an open inquiry science investigation on student-developed questions about the energy budget. Learners will demonstrate their understanding of the energy budget with a Maker PBL Challenge where students are asked to create a digital simulation of the energy budget and share it with an authentic audience.

    Age group: Open inquiry in theory is appropriate for all ages because it is personalized. Students ask their own questions and design their own investigations. The creation of a digital simulation is also possible for students of all ages, however, the guiding materials included in these two activities are geared more toward high school students as far as language and format are concerned. Having some experience with inquiry-based learning and experimental design is helpful but not mandatory. You are there to help guide them through this activity, as are the guiding materials included in this resource.

    Materials and prep: The inquiry activity will require gathering materials (material suggestions offered in this resource are likely readily available to you) and setting up the lab. The second activity requires very little prep if any. The creation of a digital energy budget simulation is entirely child-led. The only materials required are a computer and the internet. Some software programs might be helpful but are not required.

    Each resource in this bundle includes a digital Google Slides version. The resources are not editable at this time.


    Energy budget inquiry investigation:

    1. Teacher guide - implementation guide, discussion questions, materials options, etc

    2. Brainstorming activity

    3. Investigation planner guide/organizer

    4. Reflection guide

    Energy Budget Digital Simulation Maker Challenge

    1. Teacher guide

    2. Student guide

    - Exploration and brainstorming guide sheet

    - Prototype template

    - Reflection questions

    - Rubric

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    Total Pages
    21 pages
    Answer Key
    Rubric only
    Teaching Duration
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    to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
    Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth's systems result in changes in climate. Examples of the causes of climate change differ by timescale, over 1-10 years: large volcanic eruption, ocean circulation; 10-100s of years: changes in human activity, ocean circulation, solar output; 10-100s of thousands of years: changes to Earth's orbit and the orientation of its axis; and 10-100s of millions of years: long-term changes in atmospheric composition. Assessment of the results of changes in climate is limited to changes in surface temperatures, precipitation patterns, glacial ice volumes, sea levels, and biosphere distribution.
    Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity. 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 does not include running computational representations but is limited to using the published results of scientific computational models.
    Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems. Examples should include climate feedbacks, such as how an increase in greenhouse gases causes a rise in global temperatures that melts glacial ice, which reduces the amount of sunlight reflected from Earth’s surface, increasing surface temperatures and further reducing the amount of ice. Examples could also be taken from other system interactions, such as how the loss of ground vegetation causes an increase in water runoff and soil erosion; how dammed rivers increase groundwater recharge, decrease sediment transport, and increase coastal erosion; or how the loss of wetlands causes a decrease in local humidity that further reduces the wetland extent.


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