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Is this an unusual winter? The polar vortex's teachable moment.
Created by Russanne Low Last updated 3/19/2014
- I find that many of the freshman undergraduates I teach don’t have much experience with statistics, and many of the non-STEM majors are math-phobic. That’s one reason I’ve found the My NASA Data activity, “Is Grandpa Right, Were Winters Colder When He Was a Boy?” a great go-to resource. In this activity student use historic weather information and compare it with current data to determine if they can see a trend in temperature change over time. Undergraduates can use the My NASA Data Live Access Server and quickly plot data for the region they grew up in to see whether there is a trend line showing increasing temperatures. Its important to get them talking about their graphs, because some graphs will show statistically significant warming trends while others may not, but when you examine all the plots, the evidence is compelling, through visual qualitative comparison of the different data sets examined by members of the class.AAAS Benchmarks: 4B/H6
- I think the biggest challenge facing educators who are teaching about our warming climate is that climate change takes place at spatial and temporal scales far outside the student’s experience. For this reason, it’s hard for students to make a connection with the material. It’s for this reason that I’m an advocate of place-based climate change education, where we can take the “big idea” of global climate change and scale it down to what it means for a student and her community. This resource is a tutorial designed for educators who are interested in effective approaches to the teaching of climate change. Like the other 9 modules in the series, inquiry is structured using a 5E approach. The tutorial includes not only teaching tips but a data activity and links to other NASA resources that can be used in the classroom.